Are you your own worst enemy?

by | Dec 23, 2006 | Book Marketing Basics

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The other day, I was teaching a Learning Annex class when an author in the crowd raised her hand and proudly stated that a major radio station had invited her for an interview. I congratulated her and asked her how the show went. “I didn’t do it,” she replied, “I was busy that day.” Now, we know that you all have lives, but here’s the kicker: this was the 2nd time this author had refused to be available for an interview. The reason? She said she was generally unimpressed by radio.

Sometimes authors will cite a variety of reasons for not wanting to do a particular media outlet. Now, if it’s the wrong medium for your topic, that’s one thing. But if you’re turning down interviews because the shows aren’t “big enough,” you may be your own worst enemy. Do you know that even now, after ten years in the book publicity business, I will still do interviews on any station that invites me on? Yes, this even includes *gasp* AM radio!

If you’re being too picky about what media interviews you’ll accept, you may be slowing the progress of your campaign. Just about everyone I’ve talked to wants to be on Oprah. Well, guess what? If you want O to consider you for her show, you’ll have to do your homework first-this means doing media, and lots of it.

Believe it or not, I’ve also spoken to authors who have been invited to pitch a morning show; in this case it was The Today Show, but they didn’t pitch because they forgot to get back to the producer. Huh? Most of us would *love* to get an invite to pitch a show, any show.

As the New Years looms ahead of us, ask yourself if you’re being your own worst enemy. Are you turning down interviews? Are you failing to get back to media people in a timely fashion or neglecting to jump on every single lead that comes your way? If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, you need to get clean up your act and stop sabotaging your own campaign. If you don’t respond to that lead or call from the media, someone else will. And you just never know who might be listening.


  1. Denise

    I reluctantly admit that I have done this. I was scheduled to go on with my retired detective co-writer to talk about a nonfiction true crime we have recently finished. We were under the impression that we could go on together (preferable) but two days before we were scheduled, we found out that not only were we not going to be interviewed together, but the radio host had scheduled several other guests for the time slot, one of them being ‘the enemy’ of the case in chief.

    Because we didn’t want to get into an unpleasant debate on the air, we opted to sit that one out. (This case is still so very touchy for police, attorneys, and characters involved).

    We regreted having to do it, but at some point, I’m sure we would have had to ‘show our cards’ and since we are in the pre-publication status, we didn’t want to do so.

    Also, while we realize that ‘bad air time’ is still air time, we didn’t want to damage the chances of our book finding good publicity.

    How do you balance this out?

  2. Penny

    First, if the book wasn’t available then it’s probably a good thing you didn’t go on. Marketing a book or product before it’s available for purchase is never a good idea! The other piece to this is that if you have a controversial topic (and it sounds like you do) then be ready for these types of interviews to happen. One way to do this is to do lots of pre-interview preparation, have someone ask you the questions that you don’t want to answer. Why? Because I guarantee you some reporter or interviewer will ask those questions so you’ll want to be ready. Also, since there are two of you and scheduling both of you at the same time might be an issue, have a plan in place beforehand so you know you can handle interviews on your own. And finally, canceling an interview like the one you described is not good for your promotion or your message. There’s a saying in the industry: be there or be talked about. When you’re on the air you can control the message, when you’re not you have no idea what’s being said. Good luck!


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