≡ Menu


radio stories overnight showsThis is a true story.

I was there. It really happened.

It’s a story about a large market disc jockey whom I’ll call “Bob Roberts.”

Yeah, it was tough to decide among that and “Steve Michaels,” “Mike Stevens,” “Mike Roberts,” “Steve Roberts,” “Rob Daniels,” and “Dan Roberts.”

“Bob Roberts” is not the name of the jock who stars in this story.

There’s no point in trying to guess his true identity, because you won’t find any clues in the air name I’ve given him.

Although thanks to consolidation and syndication they’re now an endangered species, most full-time radio stations had an “overnight jock” who typically worked from midnight until 6am.

Those shifts could be a very long six hours: Few if any commercials to play. No contests. Few if any listener phone calls*.

(*I’m not including those two people who always called.)

But at least the overnight radio host was a valued member of the team, right?

Especially someone like “Bob,” who’d been working that station’s all-night shift for 5 years.

The morning show, afternoon drive, even the part-timers all comprised the station’s air staff, a team.

Comrades in arms, everyone doing their best to contribute to the station’s identifiable sound.

(Well, maybe except for a couple of the part-timers.)

Rarely the highest-paid people in the building, but a team dedicated to entertaining an audience and, when possible, avoiding members of the sales staff.

The large market station manager called a meeting of the entire air staff at 4pm on a Wednesday afternoon.

Pretty much the worst possible time for an overnight jock, but presumably “Bob” knew the job was dangerous when he took it.

“Bob,” the 5-year veteran of the overnight shift, showed up a few minutes before the meeting was scheduled to begin.

As he walked down the corridor, toward the conference room, the station manager approached him.

“May I help you?” asked the manager.


The responses I’ve received from audiobook narrators to Tuesday’s video confirm several common fears and misconceptions that fuel the aversion many industry pros have toward “self-promotion.”

If you haven’t already watched the video announcing the 2018 Aikido Self Promotion for Audiobook Narrators Home Study class, you can check it out here.

In this posting, I’ll share with you the most common misconceptions your fellow audiobook narrators have…

The biggest pitfalls they must avoid….

Some verbatim “reasons” for not engaging in any real marketing or promotion….

And the one valid excuse many audiobook narrators have for not using simple, non-yucky self-promotion to transform their careers from “a constant struggle” to “consistently rewarding.”

Bogus Reasons for an Audiobook Narrator Not to Learn How to Promote

“Other People Can, But….”

“Some people are a natural at that kind of thing; I’m just not any good at it.”


“Other people can learn how to market or promote their professional services, but I wouldn’t be able to do it.”

You don’t need to be “a natural” to become good at something. You simply haven’t learned what those other people have learned.

None of us is immune to that built-in self-doubt.

When you experience self-doubt, you can surrender to it and pay the price for underestimating yourself…

…or you can go ahead and learn something new despite that self-doubt.

You want an embarrassing example?

A couple of years ago I was working on a project with someone who said, “I’ll just put all the info into an Excel sheet for you,” to which I replied, “That won’t work. I’ve never learned how to use a spreadsheet.”

To which she replied, via email, “Sad.”

I can read a spreadsheet.

But I don’t know how to make those columns and rows do whatever magical things they can do for me.

I’m sure if I took the time to learn how to use spreadsheets, I’d be able to master it.

When I’m tempted to give in to the intimidation of the unknown, I confront myself:

“Do you really believe you’re that much dumber than all those millions and millions of people who know how to use spreadsheets?”

No, I don’t believe that.

Before I learned how to publish a Kindle book, I didn’t know how to publish a Kindle book.

Before I learned how to create an iPhone app, I wouldn’t have dreamed of actually creating one and I wouldn’t have enjoyed the pride that resulted from having a successful app that people (including me!) found useful.

Lesson: Avoiding learning how to promote your own audiobook career because you’re “not a natural at it” is a cop-out. It’s a bogus excuse.


Confusing Activity with Progress

This is a huge mistake that entraps most of us at times.

“I spent an hour talking about audiobook production in an online forum, another few hours researching the best microphones, various solutions for lowering the noise floor in my studio, and all the suggestions everyone on the Internet has for avoiding vocal fatigue while recording. And I looked for every free online article about ‘self-promotion or marketing for audiobook narrators.’ I’ve been really productive!

No, you’ve been busy but not productive.

You’ve been productive if you’ve actually advanced your career.

Otherwise, you’ve just been busy.

Verbatim Reasons Audiobook Narrators Have Given for Not Learning How to Promote Themselves

I’ll omit the names and any personally identifying information. But here’s a sample of the emails I’ve received in response to Tuesday’s video.

“I Took Other Classes That…”

“I’ve taken other classes from other people who claim to be ‘marketing experts,’ and they consisted mostly of clever-sounding ‘tricks’ and methods that don’t actually work in the real world.”

Aikido Promotion doesn’t rely on tricks or instant “push button” solutions. If you’ve paid your dues as a narrator/producer…

If you have the talent, training, and storytelling skills needed to voice and produce quality audiobooks for skilled authors who are looking for someone to trust with “their baby”….

You don’t need to resort to silly, hyped-up tricks.

Leave the “tricks,” the Easy Buttons and the spamming to the amateurs.

“I Bought a Database”

“I paid to take a class that ended up telling me I needed to buy their magical database of prospects. The only results I saw from that were getting tons of my emails returned as ‘not deliverable’ and having a few of the recipients report me as a spammer to my email hosting service.”

I’m sorry you fell for that scam.

Someone took advantage of your desire to succeed with audiobooks and made you believe that the best way is to spam as many people as possible.

In reality, that’s the fastest, surest way to brand yourself as clueless amateur.

It wasn’t your fault.

You didn’t know better, and you put your trust in someone who had your wallet and not your best interests at heart.

“I Pay To Give Away My Audiobooks”

“I already engage in self-promotion: I paid (Website) so I could send my ACX promo codes to their list so that their volunteer reviewers would post reviews of my audiobooks.

“(Website) said that in addition to the sales I’d get from those reviews being posted onlne, I’ll attract lots of new fans from the huge word of mouth I’d get from the people who get a free copy of my audiobook and then tell all their friends about it.”

If only.


You happen to overhear two drunks in a bar, talking about how great their doctor is.

Is that going to motivate you to seek out that doctor when you’re sick?

Probably not.

Not all word of mouth is created equal.

And not all audiobook reviews are created equal.

A key principle of Aikido Promotion is empathy — the ability to relate to another person’s emotional experience from their perspective, to imagine yourself “in their shoes.”

Audioboook Self Promotion tips for narratorsAudiobook narrator marketing class











So, let’s put ourselves in the shoes of someone who wants to learn…Oh, let’s say voice over.

As it happens (in this imaginary scenario), there are two books listed for sale on Amazon.com.

One is entitled VOICE OVER SECRETS and the other is called 101 VOICE OVER SECRETS.

You’ve never heard of either author.

VOICE OVER SECRETS has 8 positive reviews, all of which begin with the words, “I received this book for free in exchange for this review.”

Meanwhile, 101 VOICE OVER SECRETS has only four reviews…all of them positive, and all from real voice actors who actually purchased the book.

Which one are you going to buy?

Of course.

You’re going to choose the one that actually has been read by voice actors over the one that apparently has been read only by people who didn’t have to pay for it.

A bunch of reviews saying “I listened to this audiobook because I got it for free” also sends the unfortunate message that either no one actually is buying that audiobook or that no one who has bought that audiobook thinks enough of it to leave a review.

That type of website makes money by your paying them to allow you to give away your valuable promo codes.

The people on the site’s freebie list come out ahead because they get all the audiobooks they want…for free.

And you, the narrator?

You get to see some enthusiastic reviews of your title and try to pretend they’re from real customers.

Even more insidiously, you get to feel as though you’re doing something meaningful to enhance your career.

That’s a real trap that all of us can fall prey to if we’re not careful: confusing “busy work” that makes no real impact on our careers with smart marketing and promotion that fuels the genuine, constant growth of our business.

Your One Genuine Stumbling Block:
“I Don’t Know Where to Start”

“I don’t know where to start” is the one genuine stumbling block that everyone has to overcome to succeed.

If no one has shown you how to promote yourself effectively, of course you don’t know where to start.

The only way to overcome “not knowing where to start” is to have someone with a proven track record show you how it’s all done. Registration for the 2018 Aikido Self Promotion for Audiobook Narrators class has closed. If you’d like to be notified if I decide to teach this class again, just enter your name and email in Alert List use the box below.

Reviews from previous Aikido Self Promotion Students
(opens in new window)


Audiobook Narrator Promotion

You’re an audiobook narrator. You’ve paid your dues and learned your craft, but your career isn’t doing as well as you’d like.

Why not?

Is it due to bad luck?

Is there an industry-wide conspiracy against you?


The problem is you’ve bought into the idea that the only way to get work is to audition for as much stuff as you can…and hope that someone hires you.  

Registration for my Aikido Self Promotion for Audiobook Narrators has closed.

I’ll be glad to let you know if and when I decide to teach the class again. Just enter your name and email address into this charming blue box:



radio copywriting best practicesRecently a friend asked me if I had a list of Best Practices for radio advertising copywriters, for him to share with a client.

I didn’t have a formal list, so I told him I’d write whatever came to my mind, in the order it came to me.

No editing. No explaining. No justifying.

Just an incomplete, bare bones list of many of the elements required of a successful radio commercial.

The Quick, Incomplete “Best Practices” for Radio Advertising Copywriters

* The goal of a radio commercial isn’t to entertain; it’s to sell.

* The opening line of a radio spot is the commercial for the commercial.

It’s your one chance to attract the attention of your target audience.

* Single Core Message

Your Radio Spot’s Call to Action

* Don’t give your Call to Action until you’ve made the listener really want what you’re offering.

* If your Call to Action is to call a phone number, giving the number more than twice is an indication that you haven’t given listeners a strong enough reason to call.

* If your Call to Action is to call a phone number, it goes at or near the end of the spot.

* Who told you you never should begin a commercial with a question?

* Single Call to Action When you give people a choice of actions (e.g., “Call us or go to our website,”) you generate fewer responses than you would with a single, strongest Call to Action.


Choice Paralyzes Response.

Communicating to Your Targeted Radio Listeners

* Who told you you never should begin a commercial with a question?

* Speak the language your target audience speaks.

* Average American conversational speech: 3 words per second (90 words per :30, 180 words per :60).

3 words per second isn’t your goal; it’s a rule-of-thumb to determine the maximum number of words you should use in a typical commercial.

A well-written commercial usually requires fewer than 90 or 180 words. What to Say and How To Say It in Your

* Squeezing in more words by digitally speeding up the commercial is a good way to let people know the commercial was created by an amateur.

* Don’t talk about yourself (i.e., you, the advertiser). Nobody cares.

* When you speak in clichés, you give people permission not to listen.

* When you have someone pretend to be a customer, the audience can hear it, and they realize you’re lying to them.

* Present the information from the listener’s point of view.

* Radio Advertising Solves Problems. Talk to listeners about the problem you’re going to solve for them.

* The pictures your commercial paints in the listeners’ minds are what they’ll remember.

* “Visit Us Online” is a stupid thing to say.

If your Call to Action is to get the listener to go to your website, it should be either to get something or to do something.

No one wants to visit you online.

* Use music in a commercial only if it enhances the emotional impact of the spot.

* You don’t get a radio commercial by holding a brochure up to a microphone.

* Give people a reason to buy.

* Anticipate objections and overcome them in your commercial.

* Other than food, water and shelter, your listeners don’t have “needs.”


BMW radio adHere’s yet another example of a worthless radio campaign that accomplishes only one thing: It completely wastes the advertiser’s money.

The spot begins, “This is a radio ad for the first-ever BMW X2.”

The Sole Job of a Radio Commercial’s Opening Line

The opening line of your radio commercial is the “commercial for the commercial.”

Its sole purpose is to motivate the target audience to listen to the spot’s next line.

Did that opening line make you want to continue to listen?

Also, of course, it begins by telling listeners that they’re now hearing a “radio ad”…

…thereby relieving the audience of the frustration of noticing that suddenly they’re no longer hearing the station’s programming but instead to some mysterious sound.

After all, there’s no other way listeners would know that was a radio commercial.

In keeping with the tradition of “radio commercials for area car dealer associations,” a generic, meaningless, guitar-laden repetitive music bed accompanies the entire spot.

If the Music Doesn’t Enhance the Emotional Impact of the Spot or Somehow Enhance the Commercial’s Sales Message, the Music Shouldn’t Be There.

Slapping a generic rock-ish music bed under the announcer’s voice doesn’t qualify as “producing a radio commercial.”

The only thing that music bed does is compete with the announcer’s voice for the listener’s attention.

“Should I try to listen to that crappy music, or should I try to listen to the announcer’s droning voice talk about something or other?”

The ad attempts to speak to “millennials.”

Why, then, did the ad agency choose music that has just as little appeal to millennials as it does to any other demographic?

Criticizing the Spot’s Word Choice Is Like Criticizing the Color Scheme of the Titanic, But…

The spot refers to the people it’s trying to attract as “unfollowers.”

In today’s social media-dominated world, what does “unfollowers” mean to you?

A) The people who influence the influencers (as the commercial declares)

B) People who chase instincts instead of trophies (as the commercial declares)

C) (Your real answer goes here.)

What they mean is “non-followers.”

They’re trying to express the concept of “someone who doesn’t follow the crowd.”

An “unfollower” is someone who had been a follower and then stopped being a follower.

“Non-followers” would be no more effective than “unfollowers,” but at least it wouldn’t be inane.

And what does it mean for someone to “chase instincts”?

Instincts don’t need to be chased.

Instincts are right there inside you.

Kind of, y’know, instinctively.

I could continue to dissect this commercial, but I’m feeling the urge to “chase nausea.”

So I’ll conclude with the biggest mistake that spot makes.

A mistake that reveals a fatal ignorance of how effective radio advertising works.

What the Listeners Pictures is What the Listener Will Remember.

The creators of that BMW radio ad rely solely on the announcer’s voice to deliver the sales message.

The spot creates, at most, just one mental image:

Some guy talking into a microphone.

Ask targeted listeners what that guy was talking about and they’ll respond, “Uh, I dunno. A car or something?”

The Advertiser Received Absolutely No Benefit from that Radio Commercial.

Terrible copywriting.

Poor production.

Utter failure to generate visual images that carry to the listener the intended sales message.

On the other hand, radio stations got paid to air the spot.

And someone, somewhere, got paid to create it.

So at least it worked out well for them.