Re: I am a new author and self-publisher. I have written my first book and I am going on television for a 30-minute interview on Wednesday. Does anyone have any advice?
Dear Rob and ANY new author,
A couple words of advice for you from a veteran television talk show producer (Donahue, Maury Povich, Charlie Rose) who’s just joined the list. All of the other advice you’ve received is good stuff (with the exception of the advice to wave your book around. Please don’t.) and will help you come across well. But ultimately it’s about getting viewers to buy your book. And THAT comes when you can get the viewer to feel connected to what you say.
- You MUST realize that what will make people want your book enough to go buy it is if YOU are compelling and INTERESTING. What’s your topic? Do you have strong, specific stories to use as examples? Get some. Tell them well and with enthusiasm. Make the listener want to hear more about what you say. Not less. One of my worst guests at Donahue wrote a great book called To Hell and Back about scary life-after-death stories. The book was full of amazing stories. He told none of them well and offered little insight. I caught hell.
- Do you have an agenda to accomplish when you do this show? Or are you just going to answer whatever questions are asked of you? This is an easy one in theory, but tough on the air. REMEMBER: You don’t win unless you sell some books, and so I suggest you try this one on for size.
- (a) Give ’em the bad news. Scare ’em with your statistics. Make the audience realize they need to pay attention to what you’re there to say. For example, your book is Money & Marriage: Making It Work. If the first part of your agenda is to scare ’em, then hit ’em with the stats. “Why do four out of five couples admit that money issues outweigh sex issues when they fight? It’s because couples don’t know how to talk about money without making their partner feel badly or getting defensive.” Get the audience’s attention from the first thing you say.
- (b) Reassure them that there IS an answer to this dilemma you’ve brought to their attention, and you’ve got it. In fact, give ’em an example. “Last month I met with a couple from Santa Monica, California, who had talked with me when I first started writing Money & Marriage a year and a half ago. Back then they were actually refusing to talk about money with each other because they . . .
- (c) Give ’em free information. Tell the audience as many juicy bits from your book and experience as you can as you answer the host’s questions. This is where you have something interesting to say about everything the host asks. (This isn’t easy. It takes a lot more work than you’d think to be able to rattle off the studies, stories, and ideas you’ve been writing about for so long.)
- (d) Close the deal. Let them know that there’s a book out there that they can buy. Don’t wave it around or hold it up. That’s the host’s job. He’ll sell it. You’re there to talk to us. You just drop the name of your book into the conversation casually A COUPLE OF times. No more, or I think it starts to work to your disadvantage. If you’re on the radio, they’ll often ask you for your 800 number. Say It Slowly Enough for People to Hear It Well. On television, they often resist using 800 numbers on the air but will give them out if people call the show. That’ll depend on the show.
Having your own agenda within an interview is important so that you know that you’re covering your bases and are doing your job. Let the host mold the interview as they want, but remember what your agenda is and work towards it so that the show gets a great guest and you make the audience aware of your book.
- Have you prepared any statistics for the show’s producer and host to use? Like 87% of all home-based businesses fail within the first three years? The 13% that are succeeding are all doing six important things . . . By giving shows a printed list of your stats in advance, you help them make your show more interesting to the viewer. Why wait to see if the producer’s gonna think of it? Often they don’t have the time to find the stats within your book. The producer can have your stats typed onto the character generator in the control room and the host will read them off for you during the interview. Phil Donahue used to love this. He’d use the above stats on small business failure and success and then move on to your next page of info. The six important things that successful small businesses all do. This makes your show more interesting to the viewer.
These are some of the most important things that you can remember when you’re trying to get the media’s attention and keep it. Authors all know their topic intimately. But translating that knowledge into a great interview that sells books takes some real planning.
The Media Coach www.themediacoach.com
New York City
This article is from thePMA Newsletterfor June, 1997, and is reprinted with permission of Publishers Marketing Association.