How to Pitch a Podcast if You’re a Book Publicist

Over the 10 years, I’ve been working on The Unmistakable Creative Podcast, I have received 100’s of pitches for potential podcast guests. People frequently ask me what makes me say yes, and what makes me say no. As I said in this piece on The Art of The Interview, it’s always based on personal curiosity. I could care less about how famous someone is.

Because of the platform I’ve built and being an author myself, I get lots of pitches from book publicist. But there’s one publicist who I’ve said yes to every single time she pitches a guest. Why do I say yes? Keep reading.

Respect Our Standards

A few years ago, my OWN publisher pitched a guest for the podcast. Then, they said the guest didn’t have time for a one hour interview and would only give us 30 minutes. I replied and said, “I’m sorry. In that case, we’ll have to pass.” An hour later I got a reply saying they somehow found the hour.

The assistant of a famous author tested me on this. She said, “he’ll provide more value in 30 minutes than all your other guests have in an hour.” I wanted to say, “How do you know that? Have you ever listened to our show?”

The issue here isn’t the amount of time. While most of the podcasters you pitch are not Oprah-level big, they put a lot of work into their content. They’ve set expectations with their audience and standards for themselves. Please don’t overlook this when you pitch someone. This is an opportunity for your authors as much as it is for the podcast host.

Stop Demanding Air Dates

As a podcaster and author, I understand that you want your author’s episode to air on the day the book is published. Many of the interviews for my book launch weren’t released until long after my book came out.

More often than not, the air dates come across as a demand more than a request. Your author is one of the dozens of guests. Just like your author has a pub date, we have editorial calendars. Of course, we’ll do our best to accommodate you. Just because you’d never demand Oprah air her interview on pub day, it doesn’t mean you should with podcasters.

Stop Sending Cut and Paste Galley Letters

The typical approach of most publishing houses to sending out advance reader copies of the book is that the marketing or PR department sends out a standard email to a vast list of bloggers and podcasters and influencers, offering to send them a copy. I know, because I get these daily. These appeals are somehow breathless and bland at once. If you say “yes” to the book, they kindly send you a copy and then hope somewhere down the line you read it and mention it somehow. This strikes me as a huge waste of time and effort. The outreach is not thoughtful or targeted. Most of the time, there’s no follow-up to those who’ve received a copy of the book. — Michael_BungayStanier

I realize this is quick, easy, and allows you to reach tons of outlets quickly. But I encourage each of you to analyze your conversion rate. If your goal is to land as many appearances as possible, you might better of spending more time on the pitch and reaching fewer people.

I can assure you it’s never your galley letter that makes me say yes. It’s only because I’m interested in the subject. You’re not going to catch Oprah’s attention for your author by sending her and every media outlet the same galley letter.

Galley letters usually are nothing more than a description of the book, and a list of suggested topics to discuss in an interview. But sometimes none of those topics are relevant to our audiences. When I get a galley letter, I know I’m just one of the names in the database that got hit with this pitch.
I scan it and if nothing is interesting, I delete it.

It would be a tall order to expect you to listen to every podcast you’re pitching your authors for. But if you want to know the secret of the publicist I say yes to every time, you can see for yourself in her pitch below

Listening to your interview with Desiree Adaway — which was thought-provoking for me as a first-generation Taiwanese-American woman — gave me an idea for someone you’ve already had on the show.*

In 2016, you interviewed [Jennifer Brown]( on recommendation from Nikki Groom, and you two attempted to unravel why diversity and inclusion was still a problem.*

What I think is missing from your conversations with her and Desiree around this topic is a practical view of what it takes to change complex systems within organizations. Whether they’re small business owners or mid-level employees, people want to be inclusive, but they aren’t entirely sure how to do that.*

Beyond discussing how the landscape has changed since movements like #MeToo, talking points that I thought you would find interesting are:

  • How to spot systemic flaws without over-relying on those already struggling to be heard
  • How to bounce back when you fail to be inclusive after doing/saying the wrong thing*
  • What will help men lead and mentor women after #MeToo — and what it means to “prepare the ground”*
  • Strategies for weathering the storm when people have negative reactions to change
  • How to use your voice for stigmatized communities even if you haven’t experienced their unique challenges*

Plus, her new book **How to Be an Inclusive Leader**: Your Role in Creating Cultures of Belonging Where Everyone Can Thrive (Berrett-Koehler) comes out in August, and I would be happy to send you an advanced galley.*

Would you be interested in having her back on? Let me know, and thanks for your time!*

There was no mention of the book or galley in her first paragraph. Instead, she talked about an episode she heard. Then she mentioned a topic that might interest me. She doesn’t mention the book until the very end.

When she sent this pitch in, I said yes, emailed her, suggested she teach a class about this, asked if we could post it on our web site under our guidelines. Hardly anybody ever reads it. I still receive multiple galley letters a week.

The approach I’m suggesting is time-consuming. But given that an author puts years often into writing a book, it seems like this would be in their best interest.

Order An Audience of One: Reclaiming Creativity for Its Own Sake: Listen to the @UnmistakableCR podcast in iTunes

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