Publishing houses don’t always have the time or human resources to devote to actively promote every client’s book. If you self-publish, the success of your book depends heavily on your ability to get the word out. Appearing on radio and TV talk shows can expand your potential audience, but only if you can clearly articulate to producers how your book is relevant to their audience and how the show will benefit from having you as a guest.
Create a Hook
Identify what’s unique about your book and your expertise to distinguish yourself from other authors. For example, if you specialize in a specific area of psychological research and have written a book designed to help lay audiences understand it; to develop an engaging hook, you must first understand the show’s audience. You’d create a different hook for a show aimed at women in their 20s than you would for one with an audience of retirees. If you’ve written a book about money, your hook for the younger audience might focus on saving money for a down payment on your first home or how to start a retirement account. For an audience of retired people, you might focus on estate planning or how to manage money on a fixed income such as social security. Your hook must be catchy and attention-grabbing, and short enough to keep the producer’s interest.
Cast a Wide Net
Contact as many shows as you can find whose audience will likely be interested in your book. Target both small and major media outlets. The more shows you contact, the better your chances are of landing a spot. Don’t overlook local radio and television talk shows; because they have a local focus, they might have fewer authors vying for airtime. They might also be eager for local talent to showcase, making it easier for you to land a spot. Offer to send a complimentary copy of your book or, if you’re contacting the producer by mail, include a copy with your letter.
You’ll likely have to work around the shows’ schedules, and must be willing to accept any time slot they offer you. Make it clear during your initial contact with producers that your schedule is flexible and that you can accommodate what works best for them. If you’re close enough to the studio, specify that you’re available for same-day appearances. Guests sometimes cancel at the last minute, leaving producers scrambling to fill the spot. Also, don’t get too attached to appearing on certain shows or adhering to a specific time line. You might have to start out small until you make a name for yourself and your book, and it may take longer than you want to book appearances. Take every appearance seriously, even if it’s a 90-second spot on a local show. You can say a lot in just a couple of minutes, especially if you’re prepared. Plus, any exposure increases the number of people who are aware of your book.
Hire a Publicist
You can do much of this on your own, but if you hire a publicist he can handle most of the legwork for you, including writing press releases and other promotional materials. In addition, a good publicist will have connections that would open doors you wouldn’t have access to on your own. Also, producers and hosts might be more willing to talk with a publicist than with an author, especially if the publicist has a positive reputation and is well-known in the industry.
Prepare for Your Appearance
Being a good guest is crucial to making a positive impression on viewers. Express enthusiasm for the subject matter, even if you’re nervous. To avoid speaking in a monotone, practice before the show to build comfort and confidence. Maintain steady eye contact with the host and avoid looking at the camera. If your mouth gets dry, take frequent sips of water, which is usually provided on-set for guests. Also, don’t worry if your delivery isn’t perfect. Audiences understand that mistakes happen on live TV, so it won’t ruin your image if you stumble over your words a couple of times or use fillers such as “um.”
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