Authors and publishers can give their book promotion campaigns a great boost from media exposure. The best way for authors to get media coverage is to offer themselves as an interviewee for radio and TV shows, podcasts, newspapers, magazines, blogs, online news sites, newsletters, and the like. If you’re an author who hasn’t booked interviews before, or even if you are an author who has experience in doing media interviews, here are some tips for getting even more interview opportunities:
Contact the right person. You might think you can get in touch with, say, a TV news anchorperson and pitch yourself as a guest. But you will find better success (and do a better job of presenting yourself as a professional) if you contact the person who actually books guests. For television newsrooms, this person might have a job title of news editor, assignment editor, or guest editor. Actually, the title varies widely from one television newsroom to another, so the only way to know who actually books interviews for a particular television news program is to contact the TV station and ask. Similarly, for radio shows, the person you’re looking for might have the job title of guest contact, producer, and so on. The only way to know whom to contact is to ask. Call or email the media outlet — in this case, the radio station — and ask who your best bet would be for pitching an author for an interview. Then ask for that individual’s contact information. Never assume that best media contact for booking interviews is the reporter who wrote a story on a similar topic, or the host of the radio show who interviewed another author who writes in your genre. Most likely, that person was responsible only for conducting the interview. The media decision maker who was responsible for deciding to book the interview was someone else entirely. The person who schedules interviews with authors usually works behind the scenes, and the only way to find out the name, job title, and contact information for the guest contact is to ask.
Create the right pitch. Think about news cycles, and realize that most media outlets’ content depends on what’s happening in the news. Your job, as an author, is to figure out which news stories you can address as an expert or because of your background. For example, in times of political drama, you might find that your conflict resolution skills, knowledge of a particular country, or credentials as a psychologist provide a great reason for a media outlet to interview you. Search for that news hook, and don’t stop until you find several media angles. You can customize the news hook depending on the media outlet you’re targeting (see “Consider Beats” below). Alternatively, if there are a lot of hard news stories happening, perhaps media outlets need some warm, fuzzy guest to lighten things up or provide comic relief. Think about what’s happening in your community, your state, the country, or the world, and see how you might frame a successful interview pitch.
Consider beats. Many media outlets (such as newspapers) have different departments, and each has a different media decision maker. Newspapers have been devoting a lot of editorial space since November of 2016 to the presidential election and its fallout. It’s tempting to believe that there’s no other news besides Donald Trump and what other members of his administration have been doing. But … there are still other news stories, believe it or not. Sports are still happening. Arts and entertainment are still available, too. There are personal health issues, and there are scientific studies, and there are family and parenting concerns, and there are education stories. The world is still there, in other words, and it’s broken down section by section in many of the media outlets that need to interview experts. Be the author who finds the right pitch for the right beat. It’s not about finding people who will interview you about the fact that you’ve published a book as much it’s about honing in on the reporter who covers a topic you can address.
Be concise. Media people have radio and television shows to get on the air; newspapers, magazines, and newsletters to print; podcasts to record; and blogs to publish. They’re busy, and if you’ll only get a few seconds of their attention. Have your elevator pitch ready, whether you’re delivering it by email or by phone, and save your small talk skills for other occasions. Journalists will appreciate your cooperation and understanding, and your interview pitch will be appreciated (whether or not it’s given the green light) rather than dismissed as an annoying waste of time.
Take “no” for an answer. Hope for a positive response to each request for an interview, but if the answer is “no” (and no answer really is a “no, for now”), accept it. Move onto the next media outlet target, or other news hooks and media angles (yes, you can pitch multiple interview topics to the same media decision maker as long as you don’t bombard anyone’s email; there’s a clear line between diligently pitching yourself as a potential guest or expert and spamming someone) rather than trying to change a producer or journalist’s mind.
With all the media outlets that are out there, surely some radio or television producer; newspaper, magazine, or newsletter editor; or blogger is eager to interview an author with your background, credentials, experience, and expertise. Put some time into considering which media targets you should target, and then approach them, one at a time. Customize your pitch, as much as you can…and get ready to find potential readers and build your brand via author interviews!
Stacey J. Miller is an independent book publicist. She is the founder of the Massachusetts-based book promotion firm, S. J. Miller Communications. She has been scheduling author interviews for more than two decades. For more articles like this one, click here.