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Why not go on tour

TV or not TV?

Brian Jud

Publishers rely on the repetition of a message on free media such as print, the Internet and appearances on television and radio to increase the sales of their books. The planning of this exposure is important because the media like to interview authors on relevant and timely topics. However, authors are quickly bumped when major news breaks. Warner Books discovered this when it planned the launch of Jack Welch. s memoirs on September 11, 2001.

When not to go on tour

Timing is critical, but in many cases uncontrollable. Still, there are things you can do to increase the likelihood of your success. First, your book must be right for the shows. In addition, promotional tours require personal and financial commitments not everyone is prepared to make. It also helps to have some media training, and your distribution must be in place before the tour. If you are lacking any of these, you might be better off choosing non-personal communication techniques, such as advertising or direct mail, to reach your audience.

Is your topic right for the media?

People like to be informed and entertained, and they want their information to be timely. Therefore, books about current events are good for shows. Sebastian Junger. s Fire earned him an appearance on Today in late September because the last chapter deals with the author. s time in Afghanistan. Holding Fire (by Elissa Ward) also produced Fall media appearances because it was set at a New York firehouse that lost several men at the World Trade Center catastrophe.

Topics well received by producers are books on politics, sports, humor, controversy and relationships. People want to learn new theories or new slants on old theories. As Rita Thompson (Field Producer, CBS News) explains, "Controversial books with interesting drama will catch my attention." Conversely, poetry, fiction and children. s books do not usually lend themselves to prolonged discussion and authors of such books are not sought as talk-show guests.

Dollars and sense

Although media appearances are free, you will have expenses related to promoting your tours and traveling. Do not assume you will get on The Oprah Winfrey Show immediately and sell enough books to make a profit. While this might occur, the chances of its happening early in your touring career are small. For example, Wally Lamb's book, She's Come Undone was first published in 1993, but was not well received nationally until his 1997 appearance on Oprah's Book Club.

Rarely will you make a profit as a result of your first tour since you will be creating awareness and a reputation leading to future sales. Therefore, view your expenditures as an investment in your next book. Create reasonable forecasts and decide if touring is good for you under your current circumstances.

Be prepared

The key to any good performance is preparation. Media guests need to know what they are going to say during all their performances and must practice their delivery of each word beforehand. Adequate preparation will make you more confident in your ability to perform and help you relax while you are on the air.

You have heard it said that practice makes perfect. However, that is not necessarily true. Practice makes permanent, so you have to make sure you are rehearsing the right things. Before you appear on any media event, engage the services of a professional media trainer so the techniques you make permanent are the right ones. Media training will help calm you down, assist in your understanding of the process and simplify your television and radio experience.

Establish distribution

If people want to buy your book, it should be available for them to purchase, and the host will generally conclude the show by asking you where people can obtain it. So, before you begin promoting your title, create distribution for it through bookstores, your website or your toll-free number. Most purchasing is done on impulse and, if the momentum is lost, it is difficult to recover.


To make a book sell on the air today you've got to do three things. Number one is you've got to have a decent book. Number two is you have to be a good interview and lastly, your book has to be available.
Rick Frishman, President, Planned Television Arts


Producers and hosts want interesting and compelling guests, and in the final analysis they are not looking for books or authors. They are seeking to create a good show for their audiences. Convince them that you have something to offer their audiences, prepare yourself for a successful interview and make your book available to those who want to buy it. Then you have done all you can to manage the events that are under your control.