Book Marketing, Author Publicity, Branding

Friday, November 27, 2009

How To Conduct Successful Media Interviews to Sell Books

At some point during your career as an author, you will likely be asked to do an interview with a member of the media, a reporter or book reviewer who works in radio, television or print. These are great opportunities to raise awareness for your book, and to help generate some sales, too. However, this only works if it is done properly.

Believe it or not, some authors get so excited to get the opportunity to talk about their book, that they forget to mention crucial pieces of information during the interview, such as:

When the book is available.
Where the book is available.
The title of the book.
The fact that they have a book (they were so wrapped up in talking about the subject of their book they failed to mention their book at all.)

Failure to mention any of these things results in lost sales and promotional opportunities, which is the reason an author does the interview in a first place.

With that in mind, I have compiled a list of tips for authors to help them prepare for media interviews:


  1. If approaching the media on your own about doing a story or interview about your book, be friendly. Producers or reporters might sound short on the phone. They are very busy people. You may have called them while they are on a deadline (never call an hour before a newscast on a TV station). Ask if it’s a good time to speak to them about a possible interview, and if it isn’t ask when you can call back.

  1. Be persistent. Unless an interviewer or producer flatly states “we simply aren’t interested” the word “no” sometimes means “not now” or “we’re booked for the week”. Follow-up calls are a good idea, but don’t be pushy. Be sure to tell the reporter or producer WHY your book would make a good interview topic. The fact that you wrote a book usually isn’t enough. TV and radio stations and newspaper book editors are pitched by authors all the time.

  1. When you set a date/time for the interview, stick to it. Unless there is dire emergency in your home, there is no good reason to reschedule an interview. TV/Radio shows usually spend some time before the interview promoting the fact that you will be appearing at a specific time. Stick to it.

  1. Don’t be late for your interview, not even a little. In fact, if you are supposed to call in or personally appear on a show, be a little early. Nothing frustrates a host more than wondering if their guest is going to be on time. Radio and TV shows stick to strict time limits. Late guests throw off that schedule and you could find yourself without an interview.


You have lined up an interview with a newspaper, radio or television reporter. Great! Interviews are a great way of selling books, but there is a difference between talking about your book during an interview and selling your book through interviews.

  1. First and foremost, don’t sound like you’re selling your book (even though that is exactly what you are doing). Radio hosts in particular don’t want to schedule an author to come on their show only to wind up with an infomercial about a book. Phrases like “if you buy my book you’ll read about” are not good selling points. Sometimes the story behind the writing of the book makes a great interview.

  1. No one-word answers, especially in rado and TV interviews. Nothing will kill an interview faster than giving a simple “yes” or “no” answer to the interviewer’s questions. You can answer with a “yes” or “no” but also explain the reason why the answer is “yes” or “no”. On the flip side of that:

  1. Do not ramble. Time is usually very limited for radio and TV interviews, and saying more than you really need to could lead to you saying the wrong thing, or worse yet, boring the audience.

  1. Be entertaining! Sound like you are happy to be on the program and excited to talk about your book. Make the interview interesting and informative, and you will not only be welcomed back to the program, you will interest the audience in buying your book.

  1. Help out the interviewer. If possible, send the interviewer a list of suggested questions about a week before the interviewer. Some interviewers will not use suggested questions, but others appreciate it. An interviewer is not always able to read a book before interviewing the author. A list of questions will help them out a great deal and make their job easier. Also, include a short autobiography about you so the radio/TV interviewer has an interesting way of introducing you on the show.

  1. Book giveaways. These can be tricky. You are on the show to sell your book, so is it a good idea to offer books as on-air giveaways? Giveaways can be a good way of generating interest in a book, but make sure that when the host does the giveaway that they also announce where the book is available for sale. It does no good to give away books and not mention where those who did not win a copy can actually go and buy one.


  1. Thank the interviewer for their time and for having you on their program. There is a lot of competition for time on some shows, and they thought enough of your book to have you on as a guest. A little courtesy goes a long way, and you’ll likely be invited back.

  1. If doing a TV/Radio interview, ask to have information about your book and where it is available posted on the station’s web site. By doing so, audience members can refer to the web site later for more information and find out where they can buy your book.

  1. Give information about your book to the station’s receptionist. This should include the title of the book, a brief synopsis and where the book is available. People listening to radio interviews in their car don’t have the time to write down information about the book, but they may call the station later for more info. Who is the first person they are going to talk to? The receptionist.

  1. If doing a newspaper interview, ask to have the paper’s book reviewer do a review of the book as well. Sometimes the reporter interviewing you is not the paper’s book reviewer. This could help you get even more coverage in the paper for doing one interview.

Offer yourself up as an expert. This won’t work well with novels, but if you have a non-fiction book and it is relatable to newsworthy events, give the interviewer your card with your contact info. For example, if you have a book about unrest in the Middle East and how it relates to the End Times, you could say to the host “anytime you’re doing a show on tensions in the Middle East and need an expert opinion on something, feel free to give me a call”. You could become a regular recurring guest, and you can use those opportunities to promote your book. For example, the host would likely introduce you as “John Smith, author of the book…” This helps raise awareness

Finally, don't forget that simply appearing on one radio or TV show, or getting one newspaper book review won't guarantee your book will become a bestseller, or that you will sell any books at all. It is just part of an overall marketing strategy for your book, which should include multiple media appearances, book signing events and gearing your title towards its niche market.


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