And How to Make Sure They Invite You Back

Successful non-fiction authors know a secret.

They know that when it comes to achieving success with a book, it’s not just about literary talent, or even the cleverness of the topic or message. They know that – unlike the movie Field of Dreams, where all Kevin Costner had to do was build a baseball diamond and the fans magically would come – just getting a book published does not guarantee anyone will hear about it, let alone buy it.

What they know is that getting interviewed on talk radio shows is one of the best ways to become known and get their message heard by a wide audience. In fact, talk radio is more popular than ever, and with the increases in specialty programming that cover a wide gamut of topics, there is more opportunity than ever to become a talk show guest!

And let’s face it, what better way is there to:

  • Kick off a coast-to-coast publicity campaign in less than three weeks
  • Create promotional “buzz” for your book at the grassroots level
  • Reach America’s greatest cities – Boston to LA – from the comfort and convenience of your own home
  • Talk directly to your target markets

Sounds great, but how do you make this happen? How do you get a talk show host to invite you to be a guest? Having arranged talk show interviews for clients for twenty years, I know the precise formula for successfully hitting the talk radio circuit, so let me share some tips with you.

1. Stay Current

First off, you need to follow the news. What are people talking about? What is the media saying? What’s the buzz? This is important because talk radio is all about current events. Current events in politics, business, the economy, sports, weather, health, culture. And when you know what’s current, you can package your message to fit the news, making you an attractive guest for a talk show. You need to scan the network and cable news channels, the newspapers, look at news Web sites, and, most importantly, monitor the talk radio landscape. Take time to listen to a few local and national talk shows, and get a feel for what the public is talking about.

2. Tie-Ins to the News

A critical step is “packaging” your message. As you follow the hottest stories in the news, think of ways you can tie the message of your book into them. Look for controversy or big names, big money, health, or even relationship issues. These are always tantalizing topics for many talk show hosts and their listeners. I’ll give you an example, because this step is a hard one for many people. I had a client who’d written a book about the causes of bad breath. Yes, bad breath. With a little help, that client became a popular guest on radio and TV talk shows about dating, first impressions (like job interviews), holiday menus and entertaining…you get the picture.

3. Pitch Your Topic, Not Your Book

As you develop your message, keep in mind that radio hosts are interested in what you can do for their listeners, not what they can do for you. They want an interview, not an infomercial for your book. So, when pitching to hosts and producers, put the emphasis on the issue you want to talk about on the air, rather than on your book. The fact that you’ve authored a book gives you credibility “currency,” so spend it wisely when pitching your cause. And when you’re on the air, there will be plenty of opportunity to plug your book during the interview.

4. The Right Press Release Formula

Nothing is more important than the press release itself – it’s your key to the media’s door. The quality of your press release has everything to do with getting booked as a talk show guest. You want to make sure your headline is enticing – it’s got to grab the media’s attention. The text of your release should elaborate on the subject matter and what the “on-air” conversation will be about. It’s always good to include a couple of juicy or provocative quotes. Also include a short, but impressive bio, and 5 to 10 questions you’d like the host to ask you.

5. Be Prepared For Your Interview

Before you go on the air, make a list of all the questions you think your host might ask. Come up with the answers you want to give on the air and then…practice! Enlist the aid of a friend to help you prepare, and ask that person to play the part of the host, while you answer the various questions. The more time you spend doing this step, the more comfortable you will be during the actual interview. And very important: don’t read your answers! Just talk to your “host” like you would talk during a meeting with a business associate.

6. Be Relaxed, Friendly and Informative On the Air

Even if the host asks a tricky question – stay calm! Make sure your responses are thoughtful, insightful and entertaining. And above all, your comments should highlight your expertise on the show’s topic. You’re on the show because you have positioned yourself as the “go-to” person on the subject, so share your expertise with the host and his audience. Don’t answer each of your host’s questions with a plug for your book, but you do want to find (or create) a few openings where you can segue into the fact that “…your book addresses that very issue, etc.”

7. Make the Host Look Good!

Make every effort to make your host look good, and thank him for having you on the show! Don’t forget that it really is the host’s show…it’s his livelihood, his career, and will continue to be long after your 20 minutes are up. The interest and approval of the audience are very important to every talk show host – he’s there to inform and entertain. So help him do well, and in most cases he will help you shine also…and be interested in having you back on the air.

I know I’ve given you a lot to chew on, but if you truly do each of these steps it can be a rocket ride to success.

And if you need some help, let us know…it’s what we do, and we can do it for you!

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