Prepping Authors for Talk Shows: Part 3 - Networking
As most of you know, our author Wendy Kays taped a segment this week on Dr. Phil in relation to her new book, Game Widow. Now after the first initial phone call a publicity firm receives about a talk show opportunity, many things can go wrong: the show can get canceled, the author can flub up a pre-interview, the producers can change their mind, etc. This is why its key for authors to exhibit some networking moxie after that first phone call comes in. Because while a publicist can handle the booking and soundbyte prep, it's really up to the author to make those relationships with a national talk show team awesome.
Here, I want to cover three networking tips - or rather, commandments - for authors when dealing with national talk shows. Why "commandments?" Because out of all the posts in this series, this one deals with how you treat people. And that, friends, is always the most crucial skill (professional or otherwise), non? So with that - let's talk about the pre-interview, the talk show worker crew, and why you should always carry a copy of your book.
1. How to do a pre-interview...The right way
We've blogged before about the art of the pre-interview, and the basic skills hold true: Know your material, practice, have an idea of what angle the show wants you to take, etc. All very key. In addition to those principles, I'd like to add on a few more thoughts:
-Ask them some questions. Just like a first date - no one likes a potential suitor who only talks about themselves. You absolutely want to answer the producer's questions of course, in a way that fully demonstrates your expertise, but turn it into a dialog, too. During their first phone call, Wendy Kays and one of Dr. Phil's producers spoke for two hours! A large chunk of that was talking shop for the show, but in the process, the two bonded and really got to know each other. The result? Wendy was not only much more relaxed about the show, but had a buddy there waiting for her to calm her nerves.
-Make yourself readily available. Example: "Producer, if you need me for anything while putting together this segment, feel free to call my cell." For harried producers who are juggling a million things at once, those words position you as a team-player and a resource.
-Be prompt. If a producer asks you to fax something, hang up the phone and go do it right then. Ditto for emailing information. This one should be obvious and most of you probably don't need to be told, but that kind of professional consideration distinguishes you as a guest who can be relied upon.
2. There are no "little people"
When it comes to national talk shows, authors sometimes think that the only person they need to impress is the host. "Oprah would love me if she just knew me!" I don't blame you authors for this line of thinking at all - after all, from our TV sets, we never get to see the people in the background who actually create these shows.
However, Oprah, Ellen, The View ladies (or in this case, Dr. Phil) are not the ones who will ultimately be shaping your segment. The hard-working camera crew, on the other hand, will be. One of the first things Wendy talked about after her Dr. Phil experience was the great time she had with the producers, the camera guys, etc. I can't stress enough how important it is to exhibit this kind of grace with everyone on the show's crew, from dolly grip to segment editor. (Not only because this is good karma and a basic principle of social decency anyway, but because these people have the power to make you look more or less insane based on the way your words are spliced).
3. Bring copies of your book!
You never know who you could run into - and it helps get the word-of-mouth buzz going. Here's a sweet dispatch from Wendy during her LA trip for the segment shoot:
"I pulled my stuff together and was down in the lobby a half hour before I was told I'd be picked up by the car to go to the studio. Enough time to meet up again with the driver I'd had the day before who drove me from the airport to the hotel (and to whom I gave a copy of my book). He was there to pick up a different guest, but ran over to say hi and tell me he'd had trouble putting my book down when he started reading it the night before because it was so good. Yay!"
And what do you bet that driver told someone else about Game Widow? That bit of kindness Wendy showed, handing out a copy of her book for free, turned a previously casual acquaintance into an overnight fan.
I'm sure there are many more networking tips we could add in as well, and authors and publicists, feel free to chime in with others if you have experience in the national talk show arena (or even if you don't).
Check back in during the first week of October, when we'll have live-blogging during commercial breaks of Wendy's Dr. Phil appearance to talk about segment follow-up.