While most publicists agree that it’s challenging to get a fiction author on a talk show, three magical principles for crafting a compelling pitch letter will get you well on your way to media success!
Rule #1: Position the author as an expert.
A pitch letter to producers must clearly and immediately communicate the benefits the producer will receive from having the fiction author on the show. Producers want entertaining guests who will be of service to the audience. Many have been burned by authors who ignored the audience’s needs and turned the show into a book commercial.
To counteract this preconception, the fiction author should be positioned as an expert in his/her field–a person who will shed light on a key issue the audience might be struggling with. Good fiction writers carefully research the worlds of their books and thus can be considered experts.
Look to the larger issues of the book in order to get a stimulating hook and evoke producer and audience interest. On talk shows, author Jackie Collins’ expertise is that of a Hollywood insider who’s qualified to tell the audience stories of the rich and famous. Back before the media had heard of author Candace Busnell, her Sex and the City book, the TV show adaptation, or her columns, she might have been positioned best for a talk show as an expert on the subject of single women and their search for romance in the big city. The author of a murder mystery about a serial killer could position himself or herself as an expert on serial killing.
In these scenarios, the authors would create and rehearse message points that include facts, statistics, and anecdotes–as well as tips for the audience (e.g., five things women can do to find romance in the big city, 10 ways to protect yourself and your family from being victimized by random killers, etc.). Also, they would create demand for the book by saying the title often in connection to insights or tips tied to the fictional situations in their books. For example, the mystery writer would say something like: “In my book, Jet City, the main character shares the terror you all face…”
With the producer’s OK, fiction writers can also offer a free tip sheet or booklet to anyone who sends an SASE. That way, you can enclose an order form for the book and create a database of addresses of interested parties for future mailings.
Rule #2: Use facts and stats to prove audiences need the author.
A pitch letter is closer to a direct-mail piece than to a polite inquiry. Pull out all the stops! Address the producer as intimately as you dare. If the author’s story centers on disease X, which strikes innocent people at random, find statistics that support the possibility that the audience will be at risk unless your author appears on the show. Your pitch letter’s opening line can go something like this: “Producer! [producer’s name]. Do you realize that a full 30% of your audience is at risk for [disease X]? Author James Smith will give your [viewers/listeners] 10 ways they can protect themselves and their families from this dreaded disease!”
Rule #3: Brainstorm potential on-air gimmicks.
It’s important to keep TV and radio interviews lively to generate and sustain audience interest. For television, a fiction author should try to supply something visual that will add interest to the segment. For example, many murder mysteries feature gourmet chefs. Perhaps the author can prepare the protagonist’s recipe for “killer cheesecake.” For radio, the easiest way to add excitement is with giveaways. Tell the producer in your pitch letter how many books you’re prepared to give away. And instead of simply giving a book to the 11th caller, create a contest!
Producers want to satisfy their audience’s craving to hear their favorite fiction writers speak about their books, but they need assurance that you’ll do your part to create an informational, entertaining show. By following the tips above, you’ll be almost all the way there!
Marisa D’Vari is the author of “Media Magic: Profit and Promote with a Talk Show Host’s Secrets!” from which this article is adapted. A free ezine of valuable promotion tips and additional articles are available; you’ll find her Web site at http://www.GetBookedNow.com.