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Publishers: Motivate Your Authors to Book Themselves on Talk Shows!

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(Editor’s Note: This article was adapted from D’Vari’s newly released book, Profiting With TV/Radio Promotion.)

Your authors dream of plugging their books on Oprah, and you dream of all the sales that TV and radio publicity will generate. But you can’t afford a publicist, and given your sleep-deprived schedule, can’t invest the time to promote each author individually.

What’s an ambitious but under-resourced publisher to do? Give your authors the tools to promote themselves!

Authors today know that they must be proactive in getting their own promotion. They just need you to provide expert direction. Turning your authors into publicity machines and their books into cash cows will be easy once you master the simple principles described below. Then just sit back, let your author excitedly plunge into creating his or her own promotion, and you’ll both reap the rewards free media exposure affords.

Step 1:Instruct your author to research and create a list of local and national TV and radio talk shows where a discussion on his or her book would be a good fit. Invite the author in for a meeting or schedule a phone chat to discuss this effort. Many authors, especially first-timers, have an unrealistic view that “everyone” needs their book. Gently explain that every book has a target market, and help the author form a firm mental picture of the ideal consumer–especially in terms of age, sex, and income. Ask the author to invest some brainstorming time in imagining what the ideal consumer of the book would watch or listen to on TV or the radio, and then tell the author to go after those same markets and shows.

Step 2: Teach the author how to obtain contact information without your help. Show the author where to go and what resources to use in order to get information about a TV or radio show. Give him or her the number of the city’s main library, and ask the author to call the reference librarian to verify that the library has media guides such as Bacon’s, Barron’s, Gale’s, etc. Tell the author to bring a laptop to the library if he or she has one so a media database can be created there. (Hint at your gratitude for receiving a copy on disk!)

Step 3: Give the author a physical “media kit” to emulate. Create a generic “sample” pitch letter and media kit you can give to each author. If you can spare the time, create a one-sheet with individualized suggestions for the particular author’s book. If not, ask him or her to take notes during the brainstorming meeting.

The Pitch Letter:

A pitch letter is a carefully crafted document explaining:

• Why the author is the best authority to speak on the subject;

• Why the subject would be of interest to the show’s audience.

It’s important to target the pitch letter as closely as possible to the TV or radio show that you want to approach. If it’s Oprah, this should be written in a language that fits the tone of the show (educated, somewhat sophisticated, female-oriented, literary). If it’s Jenny Jones, the author should be sure to capture its tone, which is high drama, conflict, lots of emotion, and much shock-value.

Remind the author that a subject line is of the utmost importance! Many producers read this and nothing else! Example: Subject — The Serial Killer Next Door!

The first paragraph of the pitch letter should elicit the interest of the producer. Perhaps use something like: According to Neighbor John Smith, Jack Jones was an all-around nice guy. But that’s before they found eight of his victims buried on Block Island…

Then add information on the book, the author’s experience, and his or her research. Provide a compelling argument as to why the producer should feature the author instead of a competitor, as well as what benefits the author can offer the audience.

Here’s an example: I’m the author of XYZ and an expert on serial killers. I’m enclosing a copy of my book and a media kit, and would very much like to make a guest appearance on your show and to help the audience learn what they can do to protect themselves from this menace to society.

Step 4: Encourage the author to make “call backs.” Remind the author that producers expect to be contacted after a reasonable period of time, such as a week or 10 days. Remind the author of the importance of writing a “script,” so he or she does not get tongue-tied when speaking to the producer or to Voice Mail. Instruct him or her to leave three brief messages before assuming the producer is not interested.

Authors enjoy seeing their books get publicity, and don’t mind doing the legwork themselves. Just create a template for their media success, and reward them for work well done!

Marisa D’Vari, aka “Muse Marisa,” is a talk-show host and the author of the newly released “Profiting With TV/Radio Promotion.” For a newsletter of free tips, subscribe by sending an e-mail to join-musemarisa@pluto.sparklist.com. Articles and suggestions may also be found on her website,


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