When you’re just starting out on your author journey, it’s hard to build an audience for your book. This is especially true for self-published authors, but it also applies to authors working with traditional publishers. Gone are the days of simply writing your book and letting the professionals market it for you. Unless you’re already a big name, you’re going to need to hustle to build a platform for your book and your ideas, and that takes effort.
One of the best ways to build an audience for your book is to build relationships with other authors, experts, and thought leaders in your field. These are people who already have some kind of “influence” within your target readership, whether it’s from their name and reputation, their networks, or both. So I recommend you begin building a platform for your work by investing a decent amount of time and energy seeking out these influencers, building relationships with them, and ultimately asking them to help promote your book.
The question is, how do you do that?
Networking can be difficult and intimidating. Many authors are hesitant to put themselves out there by reaching out to influencers, especially because they don’t feel like they have anything to offer in return. They don’t want to ask favors if they can’t reciprocate themselves.
One trick for dealing with this conundrum is to start an expert interview series. Simply put, you — the author — can interview various thought leaders on topics related to your own work, and then publish the interviews online. So if you have a book on parenting, for example, you might want to interview other authors who have published books about similar approaches to parenting, or experts in fields that you think would be of interest to the parents you’re trying to reach with your book. These interviews can be published as videos or audios or both in various locations like social media accounts, your website, or your podcast (if you have one).
The key benefit of doing this, besides getting to speak with a variety of interesting people, is that you’ll now have something to offer people in return for their partnership. And most interviewees will be happy to share your interview with their own networks, which is a great way to get your work in front of tens of thousands of potential readers.
Also, if you’re worried that highlighting the work of others will diminish your own, you’re wrong. Interviewing others will help to highlight your own expertise through the conversations you’ll have. You’ll start to become a curator of interesting insights and ideas, and people will begin to look to you for useful information within your general field.
The good news is that it’s easier than ever to produce and publish interviews yourself. Here are a few tips for getting started.
Record Your Interviews with Zoom
One of the silver linings of the COVID pandemic is that we’ve all become very accustomed to Zoom meetings. Most, if not all, of the people you’ll want to interview will know how to use Zoom, and many will already have experience optimizing the experience with lighting, background, and supplemental mics. Plus, it’s very easy to send someone a Zoom link for an interview and then record both the video and the audio track on your own computer. If you’re unfamiliar with how to do that, a little googling will go a long way.
Keep Your Editing to a Minimum
Most of the interviews you conduct shouldn’t require much editing in order to publish them. You may need to chop off a little at the beginning and the end, and maybe even make a cut within the body of the interview if there are disruptions that will distract listeners. But this level of editing is easy to do yourself or you can hire someone to do it very affordably. Remember, authenticity is very big these days and people are okay with you including little “mess-ups” like a cat hopping up onto your lap or a misspoken word or two. It adds to the character of the interview. If you want to add another layer of professionalism to your videos and have the skill or budget to do it, you might consider adding an intro slide to the beginning of the video and an outro slide at the end. Here’s an example of one my company has produced.
Leverage Your Interviews Across Multiple Platforms
Once you’ve recorded and edited your interview, it’s a good idea to publish it across as many platforms as possible. Most social media platforms allow you to publish video directly. That includes YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, and Linked In. If you have a podcast, you can also publish the audio track of your interview there. And if you have a website with blog functionality, you can embed the video into a post (using either YouTube or Facebook) and even include a written transcript for people who would rather read, and a downloadable audio file for people who would rather listen. This way you’re getting the most bang for your buck. Experiment with live video (even if you’re not recording live).
Going live on Facebook, Instagram, or YouTube
Live video has become popular on a variety of social media platforms. It’s a great way to take advantage of social algorithms, because platforms like Facebook will be more likely to share live video content with your audience than other types of content. Doing a live interview can be tricky, but the good news is that you can use a pre-recorded video and essentially make it live on social media. Here’s a great article about how to do that.
Consider a Podcast
It’s never been easier to create your own podcast, and this can be a great way to promote your interview series. Having a podcast is a great way to make your interview series sound more “official” and to reach the growing audience of people who like to consume content this way. If you do this, I highly recommend that you record your interviews via both video and audio so that you can publish multiple versions of it across different platforms. There are some great resources on BuzzSprout about how to create and launch a podcast. My company can even help you with it, if you want!
Make Sure to Get Your Interviewees to Promote
Last, but not least, it’s crucial that for every interview, you ask your guest to promote it to their own networks. The key to doing this successfully is to make it as easy as possible for them to do it. Once you’ve published your interview across multiple platforms, send your interviewee an email with some simple promotional copy about the episode and links to the various places where they can find it. This is how to leverage all your hard work to reach new people!
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