Television is the Holy Grail of book promotion and author publicity. The BBC Breakfast show has an audience of five million viewers, ITV’s This Morning has millions as well and even a regional television show, such as Meridian Tonight, has an audience of about 350,000. Television publicity is simply the best way to reach as many people at one time as possible.
Before I start, though, a bit of realism. Don’t get your hopes up too much. Only a small percentage of authors ever make it onto TV. If you don’t, that’s fine – there are plenty of other outlets for book publicity. When it comes to television you can aim for the stars, but you also need to be realistic about your chances and to understand where the best opportunities lie. Unless you are already a literary hero you are simply not going to be interviewed by Mariella Frostrup or Melvyn Bragg. If you are not a celebrity you are not going to be sitting on the sofa next to Beyoncé chatting with Jonathan Ross or Graham Norton. And if you are not at the epicentre of a major news storm you are not going to be grilled by Jeremy Paxman or Jon Snow. However, there are still book promotion opportunities out there for the right author at the right time.
So, how to get a book on BBC Breakfast? Shows like Breakfast and ITV’s This Morning are ideal for authors with a story that is interesting on a national level, and preferably with a news tie-in. Perhaps you have an amazing human interest story to tell about overcoming the odds to achieve something amazing. Or maybe your book brings something to a current news story – possibly through its setting or subject.
Research like crazy to find a way to tie your book to the current news cycle and be honest with yourself about how well it works. If there are no strong links at the moment, sit back and wait for something to come up. It is far better to delay your pitch than to use your one shot on a half-baked idea that will never fly. While it is helpful for books to be new, it is vital that they are relevant.
When pitching to breakfast show producers you need to let them know straight away what your expertise is and what you have to offer. Don’t beat around the bush – they are busy professionals and all they want to know is what you can bring to the programme.
Throughout the UK, BBC and ITV have regional news programmes that are interested in local stories, including the occasional author. However, their time is short so they are unable to cover everybody and everything that they would like to. It isn’t enough to just live in the area, you still need to give the producers a reason why they should feature you over someone else.
Book promotion on television is exciting, effective and a true challenge. Even as an experienced publicist, I still run a screaming lap of honour around the office when I get a client onto a show. I can only imagine what it means to the author. But always remember that television takes both skill and luck to achieve. Never make it the centre of your publicity strategy and don’t be dependent upon it happening. But maybe, just maybe, it could.
Our Top 5 Tips for TV
- Get professional help if you can. More than any other type of media, television is about knowing how to move quickly and pitch the right story to the right contact at the right time.
- If you are not comfortable going on television don’t force yourself. Getting nervous is normal and can be worked through, but pure terror cannot.
- Remember that you will probably only have one chance. It may be best to wait for the best possible opportunity.
- Don’t waste your time trying to shoehorn yourself into shows that are not relevant and always consider what a show’s viewers will be interested in.
- Understand that getting on the telly is difficult and that it depends on what you have to sayrather than the quality of your writing.