The Book Publicity Blog

News, Tips, Trends and Miscellany for Book Publicists

Booking radio interviews

An author with a large publishing house wrote in the other day asking why radio interviews are so hard to come by.  It’s a good question — particularly since us publicists are gnashing our teeth over the same issue.  While none of us has the magic pill of an answer, here is some information that might come in handy.

First off, some basic radio tips from Tiffany at Thames & Hudson:

Some show types / formats: syndicated, national, satellite, local, news/talk, NPR, adult contemporary, rock, classic rock, alternative, hot AC, Christian.

Tiffany also suggests that authors discuss the following issues with publicists:

— Have you done radio interviews before?  If so, which ones?

— What is your local station(s)?  And / or are there markets in which the book would be significant?

— How can you tie the book/topic into the news?  Help out the publicist by providing a handful of compelling but succint bullet points.  Update this information if / when necessary.

— Most radio show hosts don’t have time to read all books in their entirety, so they rely on publicists — and authors —  to provide sample questions that help them prepare for interviews effectively and efficiently.

I’d add that you should consider supplementing (or editing) the usually skimpy bio that appears on your book jacket.  For a producer, it doesn’t matter what college you went to or how many kids you have; it does matter what qualifies you discuss the subject at hand.

Also, presumably you will share with your publicist the dates and times are you available (or not available).  But if there are certain types of shows / stations on which you are not willing  to appear, let the publicist know ahead of time so they don’t waste their — and the producers’ time — pitching shows in which you are not interested.

Generally speaking, there are far fewer shows nowadays than there once were because stations go bust / get taken over by other stations.  Rather than having original programming, many stations syndicate content.  Shows that have survived have slashed staff in many cases, making do with part-time producers and interns.  This means that more than ever, we need to do anything we can to make their jobs easier, i.e., suggesting timely story ideas / segments, providing talking points, etc.

December 16, 2008 - Posted by | Author-Publicist Relationship, Pitching Tips |

6 Comments »

  1. Well, I should note that THIS radio journalist DOES read books in their entirety (and would not talk with an author if he didn’t) and remains dedicated to offering long-form interviews as NPR and others gut their programming. If anything, these considerable radio cuts have made it even more imperative to keep The Bat Segundo Show going, and I am now committed to getting to the 300 show mark in the next few months. The easier the publicist makes it for me and the more responsive the publicist is to basic coordination, the greater the likelihood that a guest will get on the show.

    One other thing: While there are many great publicists who I enjoy working with (including you, Yen), you’d be surprised how many (a) make the assumption that I’m not interested in certain subjects, that I am incapable of changing my mind, or that I am apparently “at war” with an author (even when the author has specifically requested to talk with me) and (b) don’t have the professional courtesy to respond or clear up any issues and concerns directly with me. I’m a reasonable guy, and we’re all in this together. I am certainly not tendentious towards any particular publisher, although a regrettable handful of publicists who think only of getting an author on Letterman or Jon Stewart do make the job of being inclusive of all houses extremely difficult.

    Comment by ed | December 16, 2008 | Reply

    • Ed I am impressed that you take the time to read the books before the interview. I am an award winning author of historical fiction. I have spoken to over 5,000 people all over the country in the past year. Yet, I have never tried to get booked for a radio interview. I would be honored to send you a copy of my book, Clouds Across the Sun or an E-book download. My book is controversial and my talks are about the real people that have inspired this story.

      The Summary for Clouds Across the Sun: Before the end of WWII, Hitler charged a group of his most trusted and brilliant comrades with a mission—educate your progeny and then elevate them to positions of power throughout the world. Steeped in fact and impeccably researched, Clouds Across the Sun is the story of just one of these children.
      From Naples, Florida, New York City, and Washington D.C., to Israel and then the killing grounds of Vilnius, Poland (Lithuania) this story is one of great romance, discovery, redemption, and enlightenment as Jotto Wells unravels the intrigue surrounding a plan to take over the government of the United States.
      Please see my website: http://www.ellenbrazer.com read reviews, learn about me, and read some.

      I would be so honored if you could help me.

      Comment by ellen Brazer | May 26, 2011 | Reply

  2. this is very good info–thanks!

    Comment by Mary | December 17, 2008 | Reply

  3. I’ve done quite a few radio interviews for my book, QUEEN OF THE ROAD since it came out in June. The vast majority are short – five-ten minutes or so – where the interviewer has obviously not read the book (and sometimes even says so on air!). But, I’ve also done a couple of longer ones where the host obviously has and it’s such a pleasure to be challenged and stimulated with interesting and original questions. (And, yes, especially these days, I’m very thankful for the short interviews, as well. I’m just sayin’… )

    Comment by Doreen Orion | December 18, 2008 | Reply

  4. Since this comments section seems to be used for pitching books, WTH. Rock & Roll Rehab is a live satirical multimedia rock & roll show currently performing Saturdays at 8:00 at the Hayworth Theater, 2511 Wilshire Blvd. in LA and is based on my book The Official Rock & Roll Rehab Handbook and the Kindle version, The Official Rock & Roll Rehab Members Guide. And like those others who have left comments, I’d love a chance to do a radio interview.

    Comment by Neal Warner | January 18, 2012 | Reply

  5. I’d be willing to appear on your show Ed. My latest book, Buddyship-The dynamics of male to male friendships is now also available on e-book. My web site is http://www.larryschaak.com. I hope you contact me.

    Comment by Larry Shaak | January 24, 2013 | Reply


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