As the author of the bestseller 1001 Ways to Be Romantic (and nine other books), I offer the following special tips to people who want to promote their book, product, or service on radio and television talk shows.
1. Give away books. I always offer radio and television stations free books to give away on the air — and they love it. I send free books out by the truckload — about 6,000 a year. I’ve never understood why publishers send out so few books — they cost less than press kits and they’re the best way to get your name widely and immediately recognized.
2. Look at everything long-term. If you want to be a successful author, you have to look at what you’re doing long-term. It’s not just about selling books-it’s about having a career that you’ll live in for the next 20-30 years. That means getting known, developing lasting relationships, having a plan, and putting everything you’ve got into marketing and promoting your books.
3. Balance art with business. Authors need a balance between two things: (1) the vision and dream of the artist; and (2) the logical budgeting and marketing skills of the businessperson. If you don’t have both, bring in someone who can help you, because otherwise you’re not going to sell books.
4. Never stop doing interviews. As I see it, my job is not simply to write books. It is to communicate my message to as many people as possible. And this means conducting as many media interviews as humanly possible. I am constantly doing whatever I can to bring my message to the media. Radio interviews via phone are a great, convenient way to get the public to recognize your name and to build relationships with the media.
5. Entertain your audience. Media is about entertainment first, information second. So on-air, your primary goal is to entertain. Let the host know you’re interested in doing a great show and making the switchboard light up with callers, not just in pushing your book. Then you’ll be invited back. I’d much rather do 10 interviews with the same station over the next couple of years than simply have one opportunity to sell books.
6. Invent timely topics. Look at the calendar. Which topics can you talk about that are tied to timely events? One author created a “Do-It Day” and tied this into her book. Another used “Romance Awareness Month” to send a release and photo to producers. I once sent a release and photo out on April Fools Day about a “romantic gesture gone awry,” and the response was phenomenal.
7. Always have something new. A lot of authors make the mistake of thinking their work is done when the book is finished. No matter how good your book is, you need to start thinking about what you’re going to do next. I made the commitment to write one book a year, so I always have a new angle to give the media, and a reason for them to invite me back.
8. Get listed in Radio-TV Interview Report. Published three times a month, RTIR is the national trade magazine that 4,000 radio and television producers use to find hundreds of guests who are available for interviews. I have used this service regularly for more than six years and have been booked on more than 1,000 radio and TV interviews. My first call was from a national TV producer who booked me.
9. Practice guerilla marketing. Marketing and publicity are not only absolutely essential-they can be great fun. Self-publishers can think of it as David vs. Goliath. You don’t have Random House’s budget, so you have to be innovative and creative to sell your books. I eat, breathe, and sleep marketing. If you’re not aggressive and if you don’t start marketing long before your book is done, you won’t sell books. It’s that simple.
10. Turn up your energy. When I talk to producers, I’m always “on.” I make sure my energy level, enthusiasm, and drive come through, as though I am already on the air. I actually stand up when I’m talking to them on the phone. When they ask, “What do you do?”, I don’t just talk about my book. I tell them entertaining stories, the “top 10” lists, and the show I will do that will make their phones light up.
11. Be prepared for interviews. When I first started doing radio interviews, I had a “cheat sheet” in front of me. I pulled out “top 10” lists and best stuff from my books so I’d never go blank. It’s also important to have enough material. Could you talk for two hours on your topic? People can tell the difference between a guest who’s giving them the best of a wealth of material and one who’s already told them “all there is.”
12. Practice your interviews. If Oprah calls you the first week your book is out, don’t go. You don’t want to be good . . . you want to be awesome! You’ll need to get plenty of practice — in front of the mirror, in front of your spouse, on the air — so you can knock their socks off!
13. Know your host and the show. There are two keys to being a successful talk-show guest. First, you have to recognize your host’s style, and second, be flexible. Some hosts are crazy, loose, and fun. Others are very controlled. Still others just want to joke their way through an interview. You have to go on the right shows for your personality style. And you need to be flexible if a host gets stuck on point #2 of your list of 5 things you want to cover.
14. Be available. I do interviews any time of the day or night. I live on the West Coast so 7 am drive time on the East Coast is 4 am my time. No problem. And I tell producers, “If you ever get stuck for a guest, call me, even on a minute’s notice. Here’s my phone number. If you can reach me, I’ll do your show.” They appreciate that, and they call.