Behind the "Seens" Laura Vanderkam

Behind the “Seens” with Laura Vanderkam, Author and Time Management Expert

Laura Vanderkam shares how promoting books has changed and how her podcast helps her stay connected and grow her audience.

This has to be the biggest treat for my “Behind the Seens” interviews so far! Last week I was thrilled to interview author Laura Vanderkam (my client for more than 8 years!) who is a prolific writer and a time management expert. In the time that I’ve known Laura, she’s written and published at least 4 books, had 2 (more) kids, done a TedTalk (2.5 million views) and managed a family move from one big city to another.

Laura truly walks her talk and it’s been great fun to be on this journey with her. In our Facebook LIVE chat, we talked about her new upcoming book Off the Clock: Feel Less Busy While Getting More Done (May 29th, Portfolio), as well as all the things that go into promoting a new book.

Check out the video here:


Or read on for highlights of our conversation…

We’ve been through several book launches, and each time, it feels like things have changed a bit. What would you say has been a game-changer for you in the last year or so? I know you’ve seen a shift in how you grow your audience.

Well, the “Best of Both Worlds” podcast was started in the past year, and that has been a great way to bring in new audience members and it’s also helped me cement the relationship I had with existing audience members and readers.

There’s a lot of time between books, and not everyone is a blog reader. I continue to write on my blog all the time, but not all those who pick up my book read the blog. My publisher shared that my audiobook sales are a higher percentage of my book sales than the average title.

It’s because busy people are listening in their cars. I realized it was a good idea to be there in that space and podcasting was a great way to do it. My co-host Sarah Hart-Unger and I launched the podcast in August of 2017, and it’s been really fun to watch that grow.

What did that entail? You have a lot of content and information to share, so that part might not be hard. What would you share with others who might be thinking about podcasting?

I think it’s a great idea to have a co-host; someone that you have good rapport with and that has similar interests. They can bring a different take and you will always have something to talk about.

I also think it’s easier for listeners to be part of a conversation instead of listening to me talk on my own. It’s more engaging, and we feel like we are discovering things together as we have these conversations.

We do have a lot of guests, but we don’t always have to, and that’s helpful. The fact that the two of us can create an episode with just us talking about a topic gives us much more content than if it was just me, or just her, or always having to have a guest for every single episode— and do the work that is involved with that.

Do you feel like you’re picking up new audience members, or are you just reaffirming the audience you already had?

I think that many of our listeners were readers of my blog or Sarah’s blog, but I do think that there are people listening who weren’t readers of mine or Sarah’s blog because they are podcast listeners instead of readers.

I know this because Sarah was commuting and listening to podcasts, and didn’t find any that talked about her situation—we wanted to fill that niche in the market.

What is your favorite social media network?

Thanks to Nancy, I’m everywhere – but I would have to say the two I check the most are Instagram and Twitter. Facebook was fun, but I feel like it took a turn in 2016 to be more political and divisive in some ways. It became awkward because I have friends and family on both sides of everything.

I love Instagram, because I enjoy seeing the baby and children photos and pictures of friends and family. That’s what I’d always loved about Facebook, so now I do it there instead.

Twitter is the place to be for breaking news and I find myself there reading about what’s happening if there’s a major story in the news.

You do a lot of speaking, and I think Twitter is also great for that too. It’s a good way to connect with people who are attending, and it’s great to see what people are saying about your presentations.

I always check Twitter after an event and see who commented and what they said. It’s a great way to follow new people who are engaged and interested in the same kind of information. I’ve met a lot of really cool people that way.

What are you doing differently for this book launch?

We’re definitely doing more for pre-orders, although that’s not completely new. I don’t think it’s really different, but the fun thing is that with each book, your list continues to grow.

In 2010 when I started my email list, it was about 200 people whose emails I’d managed to get and that’s how we started. Now it’s about 40,000, and that’s great. It’s cool to email them and tell them you have a book coming out. That’s been pretty fun to watch as it has continued to grow with each launch.

Shameless plug – it’s not too late to pre-order and get the pre-launch goodies here (until May 29th)!

That’s true! I am hand signing bookplates that you can put into your book, since I can’t come to your house and sign your book personally! One reader posted that she got my thank you note with the signed bookplate and was dancing around the house, which was so sweet. It’s amazing to me that people are surprised to get a thank you for buying the book.

You have some very loyal fans and I’m sure they are excited to get Laura Vanderkam swag!
What do you think is your secret for engaging your audience? To get to a 40,000+ subscriber list and to keep your incredibly loyal audience on the blog – what is your secret?

Well, you keep showing up. I blog a lot, probably 4 times a week or so, and have been doing that for 8 or 9 years. People feel like they know you and are invested in what’s going on and the things we talk about.

Adding the weekly podcast episode and showing up there every week is another big step. I do think it’s also about giving people information that they aren’t getting anywhere else. The internet is full of repackaged stuff that you’ve seen before, so with the books, I try to break some new ground.

The past two books are based on original quantitative research on how people use their time, which you aren’t going to get from other books on this topic. I like to share that, and hopefully, it means readers will find some things out and learn about how the world really works.

I also share how real people are doing this. I’m especially looking to change or at least provide an alternative to the narrative that women can’t have a successful career and a family, or if they try, then their life will be a crazy mess. I aim to be straightforward while I present a new perspective on how to do this well.

Oops – we can’t forget to give a shout-out to your “new look” online.

I have a new website! It’s great. Nancy project managed this and it our 3rd iteration. It’s good to refresh from time to time.

Since your new book is about being Off The Clock, what do you do to disconnect?

I love to read, and I talk about this in the book; how I have been more intentional and how I’ve made more time to read. I also run. Running is a great way to unplug.

Every day.

Yes, 500 days straight. I also sing in a church choir, so I have rehearsals every Thursday night and sing on Sunday mornings, and that’s been fun.

We have a viewer question – she wants to know what Laura Vanderkam book she should read first and are they all on Audible?

I believe so. There is an audio version of every book on Audible, and the new book will release the Audible version about the same time as the print copy.

I think 168 Hours is a good intro into my time management philosophy. The e-book What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast is short and a good way to get started, as well.

Thank you so much, Laura, for joining me.

Thanks for having me, and for sharing the information about the books.

Here are the myriad of ways that you can connect with Laura and learn more about her approach to making the most out of your time and your life!

Follow her on Facebook, InstagramTwitter, and LinkedIn.