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Radio interviews are one of the best publicity opportunities for the self-published author. Radio shows are plentiful and they are often on the lookout for interesting people to talk to. But in order to take advantage your story must be pitched to the right producers in the right way, you need to know how to talk about your book effectively, and you must turn the interview into sales.

As with any book publicity, making radio work takes a great deal of time, salesmanship and knowledge. If you think that you may need assistance, just ask and we will tell you how we can help you to find your readers. Send us an email to or call us on 020 7917 9812.

Pitch Perfect

As with any publicity outreach, a little time spent on research will save a lot of time being wasted in the long run. Pitching your book to someone with an irrelevant media focus wastes both your time and theirs. And even if you do manage to get your book about retirement onto the local teenage dance music station, is anyone who is listening going to buy your book?

Start with your local radio stations, both BBC and commercial. Be sure to make the most of all of your “local connections” – if you live in Surry but grew up in Glasgow and went to school in Wales you may be a local author in all of those places.

National radio shows are more difficult, but the rewards can be fantastic. Again, aim for the shows that are most likely to connect with the content of your book or your background. Furthermore, when it comes to national radio shows it is usually not enough to just have an interesting new book. You will have a much better chance if you can make your pitch relevant to something currently happening in the news. And it helps if you have a known publicist to make the connection.

What’s Your Story?

So you have managed to get yourself onto a show. So how do you talk about your book?

It is important to keep in mind that radio listeners know nothing about you. They were innocently tuning in to their favourite programme when suddenly you appeared and started talking to them. While the presenter will introduce you, you need to be sure that you start the interview by easing into your story. Don’t go into a long in-depth description of your plot or topic. Keep it simple to start with and allow the interviewer ask questions that dig deeper. The presenter is the link between you and the audience and a good presenter will ask the questions that the audience will want to know answers to.

Most radio interviews are relaxed conversations between the presenter and the author – friendly, casual and chatty. Once you get started you can relax and go where the conversation leads. But if your book has a controversial element to it you need to be ready to defend your position. Even if things get tense always try to keep the atmosphere friendly and do not take difficult questions personally. If you are well prepared you will do fine.

Before your interview work hard on what you are going to say. Boil your book down to a very succinct headline – an elevator pitch that you can say in less than 10 seconds – and a more detailed but still basic summary – about 20-30 seconds. Write them down and practice your lines out loud until the words come naturally. It also helps to practice with someone who knows as little about your book as possible. Let them ask questions so that you can learn what further information may be needed. A little homework before the interview will go a long way to making your interview more successful.

Turning Publicity into Sales

Obviously in an interview you need to make sure that your book title is mentioned. In most interviews the presenter will say the title both at the beginning and end of your interview and as long as they have done this you do not need to force your sales pitch into the conversation. But if it looks like that is not happening, by hook or by crook you need to get it in there – that is, after all what you are there for.

Make the most of social media’s ability to increase your audience. Before your interview post that it is coming up so that your followers can tune in. After the interview post a link to the interview if it is available online (on BBC iPlayer for example) so that those that missed it can still have a chance to listen. Always mention your book title in these posts and if possible include the handle for the show, presenter or station. If they know that you have posted they will often repost to their followers as well.

If your interview goes really well you may be called in for your next book as well – or as an expert to talk about your specialist subject when it is in the news. I have worked with several authors who has gone on to have regular radio guest slots as a result of just one really good interview.

As with any book publicity, making it work takes a great deal of time, salesmanship and knowledge. If you think that you may need assistance, just ask and we will tell you how we can help you to find your readers. Send us an email to or call us on 020 7917 9812.