On the Air, Live!
How to Get Publicity from Local Television and Radio Programs
Publicity is an incredibly important aspect of successfully launching a book, but it is not always easy to come by. Ideally, publicity gives readers and viewers a chance to understand the mind and story behind your book, providing further incentive for them to buy it. However, journalists and producers won’t be knocking down your door begging for interviews; indie and self-published authors have to build the momentum themselves.
Many authors dream their book will be the next featured on the Today Show with a heartrending, hour-long special in which they will get the chance to share the backstory on the book to millions of viewers. Sadly, only a select few will ever get this kind of publicity; the rest have to pull themselves up by their own bootstraps and let the Oprah dream go—or at least put it on hold. Luckily, there is simple and accessible toehold to publicity that every author, with a little persistence and energy, can make use of: the local interest story.
Start on the Local Level
The beauty about local publicity is that it is built-in and there for the taking. Your book may be about the town’s resident werewolf or it may be set in a location halfway across the globe; what matters is that it was written locally or by someone who identifies with the city. While a talk show in New York City may not find the subject of your book particularly noteworthy, the talk show down the road might, simply by virtue of where the book was written. Here are a few tips for building some local buzz about your book:
1. Research the best television and radio talk shows for your book.
Start by analyzing the type of city you live in. If you call Chicago or Los Angeles home, focus on your specific neighborhood or the neighboring areas, since reaching out to the city’s primary new source is probably starting too big. If you live in a smaller town, you have a better chance at getting on the bigger television and radio shows. You can also capitalize on any relationships with media you might already have through a friend of a friend or a neighbor.
Do some exploring to find local radio stations and television programs. You can find a list of radio stations organized by state here or on Wikipedia. You can also find radio stations targeted to specific niches on BlogTalkRadio. Make a list of potential media outlets for a publicity appearance by keeping this question in mind: what types of shows would care most about my book?
2. Craft your pitch to each television and radio show.
After making your list of potential media outlets, look into each radio station and television show to see what kind of stories and people it showcases. Tailor your pitch to reflect this by giving a spin to the usual “local author” story. For example, if you have written a book on gardening and you are pitching to a radio show that frequently discusses environmental issues, craft your pitch to say “local author outlines sustainable gardening practices in new book.” While this is a chance to introduce you and your book to the producer of the show, it is foremost a sales pitch, so be sure to state clearly and early on why viewers and listeners will be interested in you.
For details on how to format your pitch, read Wax Marketing’s article on pitches here.
3. Follow up on your pitch.
Another great thing about starting local: it is much easier to contact the producer of that show you pitched to if he/she shops at the same grocery store. Take advantage of any and all connections you have with said producer, from mutual friends to mutual watering holes. Remind the producer about your killer story and how beneficial it would be the show’s viewers or listeners. If your third gentle reminder still doesn’t get a response, you can assume the producer has no interest and move on to another target.
For a great site that connects radio show hosts with potential guests, visit Radio Guest List here.
4. Promote, promote, and then promote your guest appearance some more.
When you get the invitation to the radio or television show, make the most of it by building interest around town. You can do this by posting the date and time of the interview on social media sites, having your friends and family do the same, and spreading the news via word of mouth. If you can create a loud enough buzz, other stations will hear and potentially contact you for future publicity opportunities.
The Next Level
Publicity usually works like a ladder; after garnering positive publicity on the first rung (local publicity), the next regional rung is more easily reached. Tackling a pitch for a slightly bigger show becomes easier when you have already demonstrated the media’s interest in your show through previous interviews and appearances. In rare cases, publicity will produce a snowball effect and garner national interest in the author. Don’t fret if this does not instantly happen to you; you can still build buzz by taking publicity step by step.
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Lauren White recently graduated from the University of Michigan with a degree in History and English. She is serving as assistant editor at Independent Publisher for summer 2013 and hopes to continue her career in publishing in New York City. Please email her at larenee [at] umich.edu with any questions and comments.