“How to Become the Center of Influence Through Nerdy Podcasting” with the Hosts of Show of the Professional Book Nerds Podcast

“Producing doesn’t stop at the sound quality. Make sure you create a brand for yourself so it’s recognizable. Try to use the same fonts and colors in your marketing and create a media kit for yourself with stats and information about the show.”


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us the “backstory” about why or how you got started as a podcaster?

Adam: We both work at Rakuten OverDrive, promoting literacy and reading with libraries and schools around the globe. Our office is full of librarians, teachers and just general lovers of reading. This means that at any given time, when you walk around the campus, you’re assured to hear conversations about the latest titles being read. It’s honestly like working in a massive book club.

One day, Jill came up to me and said, “We should record these conversations and make a podcast.” It made perfect sense. Thanks to our relationships with publishers and our connections with thousands of libraries and millions of readers, we felt confident we’d be able to bring frequent guests on. Also, given how many readers we work with, we knew we’d never run out of topics.

Can you share a story about the most interesting thing that has happened to you since you started podcasting?

Jill: We formed a partnership with our local library system to interview authors when they come through for their book tours. It benefits the authors, as they are always trying to get greater value during these visits. The library does an incredible job bringing in big names and their main branch has an auditorium that seats 500 people.

Usually, we do our interviews prior to the events, but occasionally these authors prefer someone on stage asking them questions as opposed to being up there alone. The library asked if we’d be interested in “hosting” these events and so we of course said yes. We’ve been fortunate to interview people like Harlan Coben, Jodi Picoult and Lee Child in front of packed houses, but the craziest event was with Alan Cumming.

We’re both huge fans of Alan’s work and his writing and so we freaked out just a little bit. Before the show we were in the green room as he was signing all the books for attendees and we were just standing quietly in the corner. Normally, this is a time for us to form a rapport with the guests, but he was so busy that we didn’t want to interrupt. He finally looked at us being peak awkward and asked, “Do you have any questions or anything? Or you good in the corner?” We both laughed and said we didn’t want to be a distraction.

The event went great and we ended it with Alan taking a selfie of the three of us and our 500 new friends in the background. It’s our favorite photo ever.

Can you share a story about the biggest or funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

Adam: We had a phone interview scheduled with an absolutely massive literary figure whose name shall remain unspoken because this is still to traumatic. We had a small window of time to speak with him and he was to call into our studio with a private number. His publicist didn’t give him the direct extension and so he got the receptionist (our studio is in our office). He said who he was calling for but omitted his name.

The phone we use showed that we were unavailable (because we set it up that way for this call) and so she sent him directly to the voicemail. He left us a message but didn’t leave his number for obvious reasons. His schedule is such that we haven’t had a chance to reconnect yet. We can laugh now, but in the moment, it was crushing.

The lesson? Make sure every potential touchpoint knows about an interview and always show yourself as available until the moment you’re on a call!

How long have you been podcasting and how many shows have you aired?

Jill: It will be four years this November and as of the end of June we’ll have 350 episodes.

What are the main takeaways or lessons you want your listeners to walk away with?

Jill: That reading is awesome! But also, we hope to help listeners discover books and authors they wouldn’t have known about otherwise. We work hard to make sure we’re bringing on authors from diverse cultural, social, and sexual backgrounds including not just bestsellers and big names, but also debut authors with important messages.

Adam: These conversations with authors mean so much to us and we appreciate them taking a moment to create a connection with us and our listeners. I hope people walk away not just with a book recommendation, but a better understanding of how stories can come from anywhere. Also, that libraries are amazing.

Can you share with our readers the five things you need to know to create an extremely successful podcast?

From your vantage point what are some of the reasons why a person should consider creating a podcast series?

Adam: Podcasts are wonderful because they let everyone have a voice. If you’re passionate about something, it’s a way to share your passion and connect with other people who may feel similar. It’s also a great way to get your expertise out in the world. Not every podcast can become LORE or Serial, but it can help you craft a voice and sharpen your verbal communication.

I feel we are lightyears ahead of where we were when we started in terms of interviewing skills and this has helped me think more critically about how I approach every conversation in my life.

Nowadays it seems as if everyone is trying to jump on the podcast bandwagon. Are there people to whom you would advise to avoid podcasting and instead focus on another medium?

Adam: I would say people who are shy conversationally. There is a difference between being a great communicator verbally and through the written word. Podcasting involves a fair amount of adlib and improv and you need to be able to comfortably “Yes, And”. This is something you can get better at as you go, of course, but if you find yourself not wanting to go in depth while discussing topics verbally, it might not be the best avenue for you.

Jill: Also, people who don’t like planning what they’re going to say ahead of time. This is important in the beginning, especially. Marc Maron can go into an interview with no previous knowledge or prep about a guest, but we are not all Marc Maron. If you don’t want to do prep work and think podcasting can just be a long-winded rant, you’ll likely find people turned off by that.

How has your position as a podcast host and a person of high authority, impacted your business, sales, and/or increased your opportunities? Can you share a story with us?

Adam: Our podcast is a part of our business and it’s greatly strengthened our partner relations with publishers and provided more content for our library partners. We had the idea a while back to make every author interview available to libraries for free in their digital collections. This means library users can “borrow” the episode and the library gets credit for the circulation and it introduces new people to the podcast.

What makes your podcast binge-listenable? What do you think makes your podcast unique from the others in your category? What do you think is special about you as a host, your guests, or the content itself?

Adam: The authors we bring on each week are what makes it binge-able. They’re storytellers at heart and the way they convey these stories will likely make you think about the stories in your own life. Our biggest episodes tend to be our preview of the biggest books that will be released in the next month. A lot of book podcasts review books but not as many preview them, and this gets our listeners excited about being the first to discover a new, buzzy book.

Jill: At the end of the day, people can tell that we are extremely passionate about books and reading and I think that comes through in our interactions with each other and our guests. Also, we’ve been told our intro music is extremely catchy.

Where can our readers find you on Social Media?

Jill: We’re on Instagram and Twitter! Tell us what interests you and we’ll send you some reading recommendations!

Is there a specific high-value guest (obviously still living) that you would love to interview on your show, and why? He or she might just see this when we tag them!

Both: Well that’s easy! J.K. Rowling, Stephen King, and Neil Gaiman. Our holy bookish trinity.

Authority Magazine

Leadership Lessons from Authorities in Business, Film, Sports and Tech. Authority Mag is devoted primarily to sharing interesting feature interviews of people who are authorities in their industry. We use interviews to draw out stories that are both empowering and actionable.

Tracy Leigh Hazzard

Written by

Co-host of 4 top-ranked podcasts: New Trust Economy, Feed Your Brand, Product launch Hazzards, WTFFF?!; Brand Strategist and prolific content Brandcaster.

Authority Magazine

Leadership Lessons from Authorities in Business, Film, Sports and Tech. Authority Mag is devoted primarily to sharing interesting feature interviews of people who are authorities in their industry. We use interviews to draw out stories that are both empowering and actionable.

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