Selling your book in an interview: how to discuss your book to make your audience want to buy it.

By Booth Media Group

You’ve written a book. It has a cover and a barcode and everything. You feel amazing, maybe even a little nervous, and all of this is surreal. Now what?

Whether you’re self-published or working with a traditional publisher, you’re probably working with a publicist. (If you’re not, you should be.) It’s your publicist’s job to get the media to give you some attention: radio interviews, TV appearances, book reviews in print and online publications, and perhaps a book tour with signings and talks. If your publicist is worth her salt, she’s pitching the media with a press kit that includes a press release, your bio, sample interview questions, and possibly even samples of articles you’ve written. She’s getting the producers, editors, and hosts excited to talk to you! Now what?

This is where you come in. You’re the expert on your subject matter, and you are the reason the producers booked interviews with your publicist. They want to talk to you about your story, your perspective, your background, your take on the news of the day, and the topic of your book. So, should you mention the title of your book every five minutes? Well, not quite.

There is an art to an interview. Deftly answering questions on unrelated points and pivoting them back to your book without sounding excessively promotional and “sales-y” takes some practice and finesse. If your book is about JFK’s assassination, for example, and the host asks you a question about Donald Trump, you need to be able to smoothly reply, “That’s a great question, and it reminds me of a point I made in chapter seven of my book JFK: the Real Story, and that is that these politicians are so very careful about the face they put out to the world…” Or maybe your book is about traditional South American Cuisine, and the host asks you about the low unemployment rates in the US, something completely unrelated. Be ready for anything—especially if it is in the news that day! You need to practice your segue back to the point YOU want to make. It is a skill to be able to courteously answer a host’s out the blue question briefly and yet firmly lead the interview back to YOUR message.

If this is your first book, then the first several interviews you do with the media might be intimidating. It can help to practice with a friend, answering questions on the fly and preparing your talking points. A media coach can also help. Here at Booth we can connect you to some of the best so that you are confident and ready to “sell” your book during any interview.

“Say What?” Email Follow Up

By Booth Media Group

We’ve all gotten a garbled voicemail message from a number we don’t recognize. And we’ve all struggled to make heads or tails out of the message because due to interference, poor reception, or a thick accent, it is next to impossible to tell who is talking or what they want. We listen to the message over and over and might even call in a friend or colleague to listen as well: “What name did he say? Can you tell? Did he say Brenda or Barbara or Burrito? Argh!”

These kinds of miscommunication happen, but they are no good for productivity or collaboration. It is so refreshing to hear instead, “Hi Mary, it’s Jeff. I’m calling to tell you I have the check for you. Please call me back and let me know where we can meet so I can give it to you.” This message is very clear. You know who it’s from, who it’s for, what the person leaving it expects to accomplish, and there is no guess work about results.

It might seem like email communication should be easy. After all, words on the screen aren’t at the mercy of reception or accents, though spelling and grammar can indeed get in the way sometimes. But when we are emailing a producer or media contact out of the blue wanting them to say, “yes,” it is vital that our message is crystal clear. What, exactly, do we want them to say, “yes” to? Don’t make them guess!

I don’t know about you, but getting an email from a colleague that is vague, circular, and never gets to the point is one of the most annoying time-wasters in my day. Don’t make me guess what you want! Just tell me (nicely!)

“Hello Joe, I hope you’re having a great day. I’ve got a client I think would be a great guest on the show! Let me tell you why, and I hope you’ll want to book an interview.” This tells Joe exactly what I want without being pushy. It’s still up to Joe to read over my reasons why and decide yay or nay, but now he can read the rest of the pitch knowing what I expect. Everybody wins in this situation.

If you’re not getting the responses that you want, maybe it’s time to be more direct while still being pleasant and personable (see our latest blog post here on Timeless Truths about PR.)

One last point about email. Sometimes you have to email the same person about the same message several times. Don’t just copy and paste the same words over and over. Spice things up a bit with different subject lines (even, “Have you thoughts more about….” Or “Great Guest for you…”,) different pitch bullet points (did anything new happen in the news since last time you emailed?) and different attachments (or no attachments at all.) The media read thousands upon thousands of emails a day, so make their lives a little easier and more interesting by sending clear and direct emails.

Leaving a Great Voicemail (Smile): how to say it all in 30 seconds

By Booth Media Group

If you’ve been in PR for more than five minutes, you know voicemail is as ubiquitous as coffee in this field. Even if you do a fair amount of your pitching and follow up by email, being able to leave effective voicemails is an essential skill.

There is a lot of talk out there about the “Elevator Pitch,” the quick version of your message that can be delivered in the time it takes an elevator to reach its destination. This is a valuable exercise not only for job or investment seekers, but also for PR professionals in search of a favorable media contact. When you’ve been calling all day, each voicemail, each interaction, is a priceless possibility – so that message needs to have oomph, elegance, and a bit of conviction.

To have any hope of convincing your listener, you must be believable and concise. Know your point: What is the point of your call? To get an interview or review. What is the point of your client’s message? That is the hard part: to become an expert on someone else’s book or endeavor so that you can sound like it is your own. Studying the material is of course important, but so is practicing your “elevator pitch.” Be able to tell whoever answers the phone exactly what you want and why they need to say yes. If they can’t tell what the heart of your message is within 30 seconds, you’re saying too much. Trim it down so it’s blindingly obvious to anyone listening.

If you are having trouble with this, grab a friend or a tape recorder and practice your pitch until you can say the whole thing in 30-45 seconds with all relevant details: Who, What, Why, and How to book an interview. If your media contact wants to know more, be ready to answer questions and describe in greater detail why your client is a great fit for the show, newspaper, or other platform. But you’ll only get that opportunity if you start off with confidence and clarity.

We recommend taking a deep breath as the person on the other end says, “hello,” and smiling while you introduce yourself. While quickly and clearly pitching your client, keep smiling, and remember to be pleasant and helpful, not pushy or demanding. It’s important not to sound like you’re rehearsing a speech that’s been given a hundred times before, so keeping just a few bullet points of your topics and themes in front of you on a post-it note will help you sound conversational and casual. Sounding like a human being and not like a recording can go a long way to keeping the interest of your listener. Be a human!

A great, short, and interesting pitch can be the difference between yet another nonresponsive contact, and a producer or editor who becomes a valuable resource. Get cracking on practicing!