OLD POST ALERT! This is an older post and although you might find some useful tips, any technical or publishing information is likely to be out of date. Please click on Start Here on the menu bar above to find links to my most useful articles, videos and podcast. Thanks and happy writing! – Joanna Penn
You can get on TV! It is possible!
Nine months ago when I published my book, “How to Enjoy Your Job”, I didn't think it would happen to me. I didn't know anything about how the media worked, but I started to learn. Last night, I was on Australian national TV on “A Current Affair” and very proud that I have made a great start to promotion in 2009!
This post is about my experience and lessons learned from my first TV appearance. I hope it will help and encourage you to pitch TV stations.
How did the TV station find out about the book?
I sent copies of a press release and my book to targetted journalists over the quiet Christmas period. The full story of the press release plus tips is here.
What was the process and what happened at the TV station?
A friendly producer contacted me and said they were interested in my story. They asked for people they could contact in order to see what impact the book had made on other people. I provided these names and waited.
A week later, I was called and asked to be interviewed. I went to the Channel 9 studios in Brisbane, Australia and met up with the journalist, a sound guy and lady who would film. I also took my husband, Jonathan as they wanted to interview him too (as he changed his career based on my book!).
No questions were given to me beforehand. When I arrived they said that the story was about this dream job and could I give tips for making a current job into a dream job. I was interviewed for about 15 minutes and able to stop for water and checking things while I did it. The reporter was great, very professional and friendly. It was actually quite easy to forget the camera and sound equipment and just focus on her. Then Jonathan was interviewed and we did some shots of reading the book and typing (for atmosphere!). We were done in about an hour and left euphoric! The picture above is me outside the station after the interview.
What did I learn from the experience and what tips will help you with your book?
- The story they interviewed me for was not related at all to my original press release. I was just “top of mind” at the right time and fitted into the story that came into the news. Having a book branded myself as an expert they could pull in to talk on a news piece (in this case, dream jobs).
TOP TIP 1: Be an expert they can call in for multiple stories. Pitch story lines that you would be appropriate for. It is not about selling your book, it's about helping them with a story.
- I was very nervous beforehand, worrying about what I would say and feeling physically sick. However, once I was there and on camera, I talked naturally and there was no problem. I now feel more confident about doing TV again as it was not as scary as I had imagined. The people were very friendly and made me feel at ease. The reporter sat in front and under the camera so I talked to her, and it was natural. I was able to respond much more easily to her questions than the ones I had asked myself in the car on the way there!
TOP TIP 2: Anticipation is worse than the actual event! Don't be scared about pitching – they are not scary people. Their job is to do a story, so if you can be a helpful part of that, then you will be called on eventually.
- It was important to be flexible and respond to the story. The journalist told me when I arrived what the angle was and I quickly came up with 5 tips they could use. Being easy to work with and not making a fuss is important. I was able to respond on the fly which gave her confidence in my message and also fitted her story. We also went to the studio and I took the day off in order to be there. I made it easy for them to use me.
TOP TIP 3: Be easy to work with, flexible and available to help.
- They actually wanted to film a piece with me typing and it would have been useful to have a laptop with me. TV requires lots of different visuals so if you can bring with you things that demonstrate your book or help the story, then do that, even if they don't ask you.
TOP TIP 4: Think of props and things that might be useful in the story. Bring multiple copies of your book, as well as anything that relates in case you can do a demonstration. TV is not just about talking, they want to show action as well.
- They looked at my website for some research on the program and as I offer a free workbook I was expected some traffic. I checked that my contact details were also on the site in case any other media was interested after the show.
TOP TIP 5: Be prepared. Make sure your site is ready, your contact details are up to date. Make sure you have read your book lately as well! You can forget what is in it quite quickly, and marketing can (and should) continue long after publication.
So you can be on TV – it just takes some time and persistence.
I am now empowered to pitch TV more regularly, whenever there is a news piece where I can be the expert. Make sure you start doing the same!
Sandra G. Lee says
Thanks to your web site and educational information, I am continuing to build my author’s platform. My first self-published book entitled, “Father, Forgive My Father” was published in October 2005. Since that time reviews have referred to it as “a roadmap to reclaiming your life” and “living that life to the fullest”. I am so encouraged to hear that it is helping people all across the country to heal from the ravages of child abuse. I am now reaching out through several of my web sites: MySpace, Facebook, ShoutLife, and Blogger, with the hope that I can reach many more victims so that they can “turn their scars into stars” and live a victorious life. Please help me to help them by passing on the word about this enlightening book that you won’t be able to put down.
Brandon Gardner says
Thank you for this amazing article on being on TV and the lessons that you learned from it. All writers should take the time to look over your website, and to see where they can improve with their platform. I’m working on trying to build up a platform as well, and your blog has been very helpful. I can’t wait to read more articles on here.
Joanna Penn says
Thanks Brandon – I hope you find the posts useful!
Cinda MacKinnon says
Joanna – It is three years since you wrote this article but it is still useful. I have just been asked to fly cross-country to appear on a Washington D.C. TV program to discuss my novel, A Place in the World. I’d not even approached local TV stations thinking it 1) not likely they would jump and 2) it would be too nerve wracking for me any way. (Maybe I will now!)
Thanks… wish me luck!