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How to get television stations to notice your book

28 February 2013

From Randy Tatano, freelance network television producer and author on The channeling author:

TV or not TV. That is today’s question.

Ah, the tube. The box. As Jacqueline Susann called it, The Love Machine. Such a part of American life that without it we wouldn’t know where to put the couch.

But you guys wanna know about how television coverage works, and how you might get some for your book, so you’ll need the TV insider’s playbook. It is a bizarre industry with so many quirks and nuances that you really need to know the secret handshakes to get anything decent on the air. One thing to remember is an old newsroom saying that goes back about fifty years. “It’s just TV. It aint brain surgery.” Bottom line, after you do it awhile, it’s pretty simple.

In all my years in the business I’ve done a total of two, count ’em, two, stories on authors. (I would have done three but one author was so rude we packed up our gear and left.) Bottom line, publishers simply don’t look at television when promoting books. That shouldn’t stop you, the author.

In one case, a local guy who had published a book on baseball called me up, made an appointment, and stopped by with a review copy of his book. It was well done so we booked him on our Saturday morning newscast. In the other, I happened to read in Publisher’s Weekly that author Joe McGinniss would be doing research on a book called “The Big Horse” at the race track in Saratoga, New York. I called the publisher, they gave me the author’s number, and we set up an interview. Mr. McGinniss let us follow him for a couple of hours around the track, and he made an interesting story. But had I not stumbled on that bit of information, I never would have known a major author was in town. So, how do you get coverage?

First, you need to understand three basic principles: reporters love fun stories that aren’t hard to do; newsrooms (all kinds of media) are now staffed by skeleton crews after major cutbacks; a personal touch goes a long way when making contact. With that in mind, the easier you make it for a reporter to gather the facts for a story, the better chance you have of it hitting the air or getting in print. Have something that doesn’t require a reporter to do a lot of work, and you’ll have a better chance of getting it out there.

Link to the rest at The channeling author and thanks to Jennifer for the tip.


6 Comments to “How to get television stations to notice your book”

  1. Have something that doesn’t require a reporter to do a lot of work

  2. I’m not an insider, but I suspect this is a fairly untapped market.

    • A simple way to gauge if this is true is to ask yourself (or, if you don’t watch much tv, a friend who does) when was the last time a tv station did a story on a local writer? (I remember about 2 such stories in the last 6 months: one on Chuck Palahniuk doing a reading at a local independent book store; another was about a writer on a tour who was giving a reading from his book (IIRC, it was about the history behind Marvel Comics book).

      And here’s an idea for someone to steal: about 10-20 years ago there was a tv news story about a writer who spent a month writing in the window of a local bookstore — FWIW, the name of the store was Lookingglass Books. (Since then a new owner bought it, moved it from downtown Portland to a neighborhood shopping area due to increasing rents, & despite doing all the things we wish B&N would do was forced to close it a couple of years ago. Probably a story somewhere it that.)

  3. Good article. I wouldn’t have thought of coming up with the visual hook but I’ve got some ideas now!

  4. Mrs. PG has appeared on several local morning/noon TV shows focused on female audiences. It’s been enjoyable for her, but she couldn’t track any increased sales.

    • That was my thought. Several writers have said their local TV appearances made no noticeable difference to their sales and I’ve never seen anyone say that it did, so why bother with TV unless it’s a huge national show?

      I certainly can’t think of any time I’ve bought a book because I saw the author on TV.

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