Selling Books Through Interviews

William A. Gordon and Stephen Schochet are Hollywood authors and storytellers who, between themselves, have done over 600 radio interviews. Although they work independently, they often share information about specific shows and compare strategies for getting booked. Here they share some of the lessons they have learned about selling books and other media through radio interviews.

1) You do not necessarily have to hire a publicist or use a booking service to arrange radio bookings (although both Gordon and Schochet have both done so in the past). Most producers do not care who makes the initial contact-or who published your book or CD-as long as you show them you can be an entertaining and informative guest.

2) You will schedule more interviews if you position yourself as an expert in a particular field and tailor your pitches so you offer commentary and anecdotes about events and topics in the news. For example, outside of California, Gordon does not pitch himself as an expert on Hollywood sightseeing. He talks about Hollywood scandals and discusses breaking news stories like the Robert Blake murder or the falsification of George Harrison's death certificate.

After September 11, when talk radio seemed to be "all terrorism, all the time," Schochet adapted and continued to get interviews by offering himself as an expert on Hollywood's response to wars and national crises. Schochet also gets Valentine Day's bookings by pitching Hollywood marriages and romances, and interviews before the Academy Awards ceremonies by talking about stories and legends behind the awards, and interviews after the deaths of famous celebrities.

3) Always provide hosts with tip sheets that includes a brief biographical sketch, questions they can ask you, and a clear statement about what the book is about and where it is available. Many hosts will repeat the information verbatim. Not every host will ask the same questions you provide them, but you would be surprised how many do.

4) Perseverance pays. Just because your phone call is not returned does not necessarily mean a producer has turned you down as a guest. Producers are extremely busy people and are, on any given day, inundated with pitches.

Follow-up phone calls and/or e-mails are essential. Schochet often has made numerous calls (once as many as 15) before he was finally booked on a show. On numerous occasions Schochet was told the reason he finally got the booking was because he was so persistent.

5) Offer free books as on-air giveaways. Even if a show does not book you as a guest, giveaways are an excellent way to get free exposure. And if you send books, make sure you provide the show with a tagline stating what the book is about and where it is available.

6) Be flexible. Don't tell a producer that you a 6 a.m. interview is too early for you. Remember: producers can easily find somebody else who is more accommodating.In a related vein, let the producer know that you are always available if they get a last-minute cancellation. Your goal should be to make their job easier for them

7) Traditional talk shows are not the only shows that do guest interviews. Many unadvertised drive-time morning shows and news programs also are looking for people to fill air space. Schochet has also been particularly successful booking himself on Christian stations that many publicists overlook. He has even done political shows, including Roger Hedgecock's in San Diego and Chuck Morse's in Boston syndicated show by pitching the politics of Hollywood.

8) During interviews, plunge into your information right away. Knowing when to take control of an interview is probably the trickiest thing about radio interviews. You want to be informative and not come across as a salesman, plugging your book over and over. Always keep in mind that from the host's point of view, they want a good show. Your book promotion is secondary to them. (If you promote subtly-and position yourself as an expert in your field-this will increase your chances of getting invited back for additional interviews.)

9) At the end of the interview, when the host thanks you for being on the show, he or she may or may not mention your book. If the host does not, quickly add: "thank you, and the book is available at . . . " Gordon lets listeners know there is a free sample chapter at his web site.

10) Immediately after the interview, call the station's receptionist and give her or him the information about your book. Not every listener will correctly remember the title of your book, or your name. Nor has everyone heard the whole interview. Listeners may call the station for more information about your book. The receptionist is the first and often the only person the listener will ever reach; so be sure she has your name, the exact title of your book, your URL and all the pertinent information.

Stephen Schochet and William Gordon

Stephen Schochet is the author-publisher of the audiobook "Tales of Hollywood" and "Fascinating Walt Disney" ( William A. Gordon is the author of "The Ultimate Hollywood Tour Book" ( and the editor of "Gordon's Radio List," a 270-page list of locally produced and nationally syndicated radio shows that do phone interviews with guests.

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