Tips for Authors Working with Producers

Studio photo by Joanne McCall

As an author, you will work with many different professionals along the way toward getting your book published but it doesn’t stop there. Publishing your book is just the beginning. Then you have to publicize it, market it, create buzz around it, and ultimately sell it. From time-to-time over this year, I’ll be sharing advice from many of these professionals on how you can best work with them.

You’ve heard it said that “we are all the media now.” The very fact that we can all speak “from one to the many” in our networks means that we are the media too, although usually smaller than the big media brands. Still, it’s great news.

However, and this is a significant point: Where publicity really shines is in the fact that when you get featured in Forbes, or Business Insider, or The New York Times, Mind Body Green, or various television programs and segments, you never have to worry about a change in an algorithm wiping out your visibility. As long as you’ve appeared in front of the right media, you will always be seen in front of relevant audiences. And, it’s a very long tail, indeed.

So how do you work with producers to make sure you get that kind of sustainable visibility by being selected to be interviewed on various programs? My friend, Frank Mungeam has a bio longer than most, so I will simply say that he has been executive producer of all local programming at KATU-TV, has run the Gannett television stations from their headquarters in Washington DC, and now runs the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism at Arizona State University. Here are some of his important tips:


Have a hook

To land the show you need to have a hook that grabs the producer so he or she knows you’re right for the program. You must be succinct, memorable, and compelling in as few words as possible.

Do your homework

There is no excuse for not doing your research. Before pitching a producer, make sure you watch the show and learn from it. Do they interview guests? What is the culture of the show? How do the hosts interact with the guests? Do they have any consistent themes? Take this into consideration when you’re coming up with that hook.

Pitch the hungry dog

Pitch the producer who is working hard to impress the boss. This is not the executive producer. In fact, that is usually the last person you want to pitch. Go for the assistant producers because often they want to get promoted and they’re working hard to bring good guests to the show.

Be your own producer

Think about what the producer might need to put the show together, and then have those items already done and available. Do they run B roll? Do they use still shots? Do they use demos? Do they post things on their website? What have they posted from other guests? Plan ahead and pull these things together. Believe me. It will make your life so much easier.


What’s your point?

Many people have a hard time getting to the point. You don’t want to be one of them. In fact, that’s a sure-fire way to make sure you never get booked. Know what you’re going to say, practice it, use appropriate hand gestures, and express the kind of energy they like their guests to have. (You will know by watching other guests.)

Time clues

You can get an idea of how long your answers to questions should be when you learn how long the segment is. A 4-minute interview is very different from say a 30-minute public affairs show.

Show, don’t tell: Pictures, props, demo’s and video

Producers are not interested in “talking heads.” If a camera is involved, they want graphics, video, props, demonstrations, and anything else you can use to make your segment come alive. Just sitting there talking is a no go.


Dress the part

Most online and television interviews are done via Skype from your home these days. While it doesn’t necessarily matter what you wear on the lower half of your body, your upper body, which will be on camera, needs to fit the part. You want to be professional, but also not over the top. Try on different outfits. Sit in front of your camera and record yourself so that when you play it back you can see how you look. Everyone looks good in some shade of blue, so if you’re unsure, you can begin there.

Clothing faux pas

Don’t wear anything that bunches or is a little too tight. For women, watch the jewelry. Don’t wear dangly earrings or a necklace that is too distracting. If you’re unsure, go to youtube and watch interviews. See what people are wearing. Figure out what looks best and then see if you can do something similar.

Where to look

Don’t look at yourself or the host on your computer screen. LOOK AT THE CAMERA. This is the only way it will look like you really are looking at the host and at the audience. It’s amazing how many people STILL have not figured this out. Don’t you be one of them.

How to sit (up)! And act (wired on coffee)

Your mom was right. Sit up. Lean forward. Look and be interested. Be present. Be enthusiastic. If your energy feels like it’s over the top, it is probably just about right. Record yourself ahead of time and review it a day later. See what you think.


Dumb questions

It happens. Someone asks you a really dumb question. No one is going to be as well-informed about your message as you are, so when you occasionally get a question that seems extraordinarily elementary, resist the urge to roll your eyes, and imagine you’re explaining the answer to a 7-year-old. Don’t patronize though. You want to be fully present, kind, and informative.

Hostile hosts

If you’ve done your due diligence, then the research you’ve done will help you avoid getting on shows known to have hostile hosts. However, occasionally you may find yourself surprised by a host who becomes hostile. Do not become defensive. Do not become angry. Remember to speak through the host toward the viewer or listener who is the one you really want to hear your message anyway. There are very elegant ways to do this and I recommend media training for developing this skill.


How do I promote my book without sounding like a shill?

Now that you’ve been on social media for some time, you probably have this skill down, at least I hope you do. Remember that during an interview you’re there to give your expertise. If you share generously those in the audience who need what you’re offering usually respond with, “Wow, if they share that much during a short interview, imagine what’s in his or her book!”

I’m afraid I’ll give my book away on the show

Never worry about this. For one thing, people won’t remember everything you said. Second, you can’t give away a whole book in a five-minute interview or a thirty-minute interview, or even a sixty-minute interview. Be generous. People will remember this. Besides, if you’re holding back, or worse, if you’re using the words, “In my book…” it sounds like you’re holding back. Plus, hosts hate that phrase and it’s one way to be sure your interview comes to a screeching halt.

I can’t possibly convey my book in a few minutes

That’s why we have you select your most important key messages and put them in order of importance. Seven or eight is a good number. Make sure that in every interview, even a short 4-minute TV spot, you’ll get across the top three. But even more to the point, being succinct is a skill that must be learned. By everyone.



Be sure and share your interview! Most people never go to your actual social media account pages and only a few will see your posts in their newsfeeds, so sharing it multiple times just makes sense.

Share some more

Be sure and share it on all the platforms that you’re active on, at least a handful of times a few days or weeks apart. When you’re first setting up the interview, be sure and let the producer know you plan to do that.

Bottom line

When it’s time to begin publicizing your book, it’s helpful to listen to those in each appropriate industry to give yourself the best chance of being successful. Listening to the advice of those who have gone before you and have learned a thing or two just makes sense. Hopefully, these tips from a television and online media producer will be helpful as you move forward.

I look forward to sharing much more with you in the weeks and months ahead.

To your success!


P.S. I’m happy to announce that I’ve been asked to be a part of APSS’s Selling Books in a Covid World coming up this Thursday, January 28, at 2:00 p.m. Eastern Time/11:00 a.m. Pacific Time. How to Get Media Attention when No One Knows Who the Heck You Are is going to be filled with great tips for authors. And, quite frankly, there is nothing like having your friends with you during a live presentation and I’d like to invite you to join me! So sign up and join me here.





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