Every nonfiction author’s dream is to be interviewed on national television by a well-known interviewer. Ultimately you want to be on Oprah, right? But are you prepared for national television appearances? Or even a local TV appearance?
Here are a few tips to be sure you’re prepared to appear on TV:
- When you receive the email or phone call with the opportunity, reply promptly. Don’t think you can get back to them the next day. The media is very fast moving and if they don’t hear from you promptly, they will move on down the list and you will have missed the opportunity. You may even be called to do an interview in just a couple of days. This recently happened with one of my clients. She received the email just two days before the morning television show because there was a cancellation and the show needed to fill the empty slot. She was told someone would be calling shortly and by the end of the day she had signed to do the show.
- If you’re asked for additional information, provide it as quickly as you can or at least let them know when they can expect the information.
- Know your topic well, share it enthusiastically, and find new ways to liven it up. You may have done several interviews on radio or podcasts and if you’re not careful, you might sound like you’re sharing the same information repeatedly and it may begin to sound stale. Perhaps you can tell a new story this time that gets the same point across in a different way.
- Share your upcoming appearance on social media and again after the event. Add it to your blog, media page on your website, and your newsletter. When posting on social media, tag the show and interviewer.
Hal Elrod’s Today show appearance
I recently corresponded with a previous client, Hal Elrod, about his experience being on the Today show. Here’s what I asked him and his replies via his assistant.
Did you reach out to the Today show or did they approach you? Our Penguin Random House publisher for The Miracle Equation set this up with their contacts.
What was the process like to prepare for the show? Hal was pretty much on his own aside from a few calls with the producer.
How long was it from the initial contact to the actual air date? Just about three months.
What’s the best thing that happened to you as a result of the show? Reaching a new and wider audience.
Would you have done anything differently? Hal felt everything went smoothly and there is nothing he would change.
Share anything else you would like to about the experience. Hal was given questions to prepare for before the show and he spend hours preparing for those questions and every question on the show asked was totally out of left field. None of the questions were the ones they gave for him to prepare. He was prepared for that to happen though, so it went great.
What you can learn from Hal’s experience
Notice that Hal’s publisher had contacts, so they were able to set this interview up. If you’re self-published, you may not have those contacts. You may want to hire a publicist who has existing relationships with media to help you reach out.
There were just a few calls with the producer in the three month period before the show. He had to prepare well. You want to prepare well, rehearsing what you want to say so that it comes out sounding natural. Practice with a friend and record it so you can see how you appear on camera and what you need to adjust to look and sound professional.
The best thing about this appearance for Hal was reaching a new and wider audience – not book sales. Yes, he did sell books. And I encourage you to go purchase his book. More importantly, his message reached more people. Keep that in mind when you appear on TV and make sure you share your valuable message.
A very important takeaway here is that as much as you prepare, be prepared for the unexpected. That’s what Hal did so he was prepared even though none of the questions he asked were the ones he was originally provided. To be that well prepared you must know your topic inside and out.
Deborah Olson’s Great Day Houston appearance
As I was preparing this article, my client, Deborah Olson, was contacted to appear on the Deborah Duncan show in Houston. After her appearance, I asked her a few questions and here they are along with her replies.
How did you hear about the opportunity to be on Great Day Houston? I know the manager for the Houston rising singing star, Christina Wells, and we recently had a meeting to discuss a joint venture I may do with Christina. His name is David Wuensch, and we talked about Christina’s recent appearances on Great Day Houston. David was so excited for my book and its relevant message for women that he told me he would reach out to Christina’s publicist and one of the producers they know from the Great Day Houston show. Within a couple weeks I received a phone call from David that Great Day Houston wanted me on the show for National Girlfriend’s Day, August 1, 2019.
Who did you speak to and what did they need from you before the show? I spoke with David and he relayed information from the show’s producer, Jennifer. They needed some bullet points of questions that I would prefer to be asked and I sent them back to David and he sent them on to the Jennifer. Before the show they needed some bullet points of questions that I would prefer to be asked. However, as it turned out, the questions and conversation I had with Deborah Duncan on the show were not from that list. Instead we discussed other talking points from the book, which was fun and interesting. It worked out great!
How did you prepare for the show? I really did not have much to prepare at all for the show since I received the email about it just two days before the show. I’m always well prepared because I know my message backwards and forwards.
What’s the best thing that resulted from being on the show? The best thing from the show is definitely the wider exposure of more people hearing my message. I really am so grateful to have had this opportunity to reach the masses with my message. Since the show there has been a lot of support happening on social media. It has been fun to see people’s comments and hear their thoughts about my appearance on the show and the message of my book.
Would you have done anything differently? No, things fell into place very nicely and it all worked out well. I got to be on Great Day Houston with Deborah Duncan discussing my first book, The Healing Power of Girlfriends, on National Girlfriends Day. It does not get any better than that!
Share anything else you’d like about the experience. I would like to add this about the past months of hard work to market and promote my book and its message which have led up to this pinnacle moment on TV:
Never give up! I have had many days I have been very discouraged, including only a few weeks ago, when I just felt that nothing was falling into place for me. As a first time self-published author, I have sometimes felt like it just may never be “my turn” to get lucky or get noticed by media. I don’t have any claim to fame, I am not a star, and I don’t have a famous face or family. I am starting from scratch and trying to carve out my niche and work my way to the top. It takes a lot of courage, stamina, tenacity, resiliency, and coffee! It also takes surrounding yourself with the BEST team. I would say to choose carefully who you bring on your team to support you and help you market and promote your book and your message. I have chosen wisely, by selecting Sue Canfield and her social media marketing team, and Candace Johnson, my editor and mentor. The success of being on the Great Day Houston Show belongs to them as well!
What you can learn from Deborah’s experience
It’s who you know. Deborah knew someone who had a contact at the show and that’s how she ended up landing this TV appearance. Develop relationships with people. Let everyone you know what your goals are and what shows you’d like to appear on. You never know where it may lead. Remember to be generous with your connections and if you’re ever able to pay it forward, do so.
You must know your message – inside and out. Always be prepared for the unexpected. You may not get asked the questions you so carefully prepared for and you don’t want to be thrown when the host asks you a question you weren’t expecting.
Never give up! Book marketing and publicity is an ongoing, long-term commitment. Grab your coffee and keep at it. And go get Deborah’s book.
I’m excited to be working with nonfiction authors to help them share their message on social media. It’s been even more exciting this year as we branch out into author publicity services. We’ve helped get clients book review opportunities, written interviews with book bloggers, audio interviews with podcasters and online radio shows, and we’ve booked video interviews with online shows. Book a free 15-minute phone consultation with me to learn more about how our services can help you get more publicity.