If you want to get on TV, write a book.
I’m serious. Being an Author opens doors you could never get through otherwise—like television.
That’s because a book makes you an instant expert. Especially if you self-publish.
As a self-published Author, you’re free to write your book from a profoundly authentic place and then use that book to get fantastic media coverage—including television.
That said, television isn’t always the best way to get the publicity you need.
At Scribe, we’ve published more than 700 non-fiction books, and plenty of those have made their Authors a ton of money.
How did those Authors do it? They found the right media opportunities with the right audience.
For example, let’s say your book is about accounting for dental practices. You’re better off appearing on a podcast about dental practice management than appearing on a local TV morning show.
Why? Because speaking to 200 people who run a dental practice will move the needle far more than speaking to 10,000 people who don’t.
But if you wrote the kind of book that can connect to your ideal audience through TV, here are 12 tips for landing that coverage.
12 Best Tips for Getting on a TV Show
1. Choose wisely
If you want your TV appearance to be worth the effort, it’s critical to get on the right show. Make sure any TV shows you apply to:
- speak to your target audience
- are aligned with your book’s message
- feature segments like the one you’re envisioning
Remember, getting on television isn’t an end in itself. The whole point of any publicity is to work toward your ultimate goal. For example, you might have written your book:
- to attract new business clients
- to launch a new career
- to become a thought leader in your field
Or for any number of other reasons, all designed to create a specific change in your life or business.
When you’re choosing TV shows to apply to, think about the audience you need to reach to make that change.
2. Be timely
Once you know which shows you want to apply to, it’s time to work on your pitch.
TV tends to be extremely timely. Try to tie your segment pitch into something relevant that’s in the news, either locally or nationally.
If your book ties naturally into a seasonal event, that’s a great opportunity to plan ahead and apply early. For example:
- spring weddings
- tax season
- Valentine’s Day
- Black Friday sales
For any segment you pitch, position yourself as the expert to talk about that particular issue. Make sure it ties back to your book so you can use it as a credential.
Finally, remember that no matter what your ultimate goal is, you’re not on the show to sell anything. At least, not directly.
You’re there to serve the TV show’s audience: sharing information with them, entertaining them, or educating them on an issue they care about.
3. Provide value
Catering to the show’s audience is extremely important. TV shows survive on ratings. To keep those ratings high, they want to book guests their core audience will love.
So the best way to get on a TV show is to prove that their audience will care about your segment. Ask yourself these questions:
- What value are you providing to their audience?
- What problem are you solving for them?
- What specifically will they get out of it?
These are the kinds of questions executive producers think about, so be sure to answer them in your pitch. If you’re providing genuine value to the audience, the show will want to book you. It’s that simple.
4. Send a great author bio & book description
Once you’ve fully outlined the segment you want to pitch, you’ll need to gather the right materials to sell it.
That starts with a great book description and Author bio.
The description should hook the audience immediately. The bio should prove that you’re the perfect person to write this book—and to be on this TV show.
If you need some help writing either of these, we have a whole post about each one:
5. Create a fantastic media kit
The rest of your media kit should be designed specifically for television.
A media kit is an online dropbox that consists of several parts. Be sure to provide folders with different category headings and well-named files to make things easy to find.
Two of the most important elements in any TV kit are your headshot and your “key ideas” document.
The best headshot is one that provides a professional, authentic image you can live up to in real life. Remember, you’re going to be in front of the camera.
Your “key ideas” document should speak to the segment you’re pitching, giving producers an immediate feel for the value their audience will get from the segment.
For a complete rundown of a great media kit, including what to include in your key ideas doc, read our post on building your own author media kit.
6. Send them your book
Be sure to include a complete pdf of your book and a high-resolution image of your book cover in your media kit.
The show’s staff will look at it, and they will at least skim it. So make sure every aspect of your book makes you look professional:
7. Invest time in media training
As a non-fiction Author, you might not have to deal with casting directors or casting calls, but you’re still auditioning to get on TV. Appearances matter.
That’s why a great video pitch is critical to your success.
Think of a video pitch like an interview: you’ll have an infinitely better shot if you prepare and put in the work ahead of time.
You don’t need to take acting classes, but investing your time in some solid media training will help you get comfortable in front of the camera (and provide crucial tips for making a good impression).
- wear solid colors (not green)
- don’t wear noisy jewelry (because some mics are extremely sensitive)
- ask about your video frame—if it’s only your upper torso, don’t gesture with your hands (so they don’t fly in and out of the shot)
- look at the interviewer, not at the camera
- speak slowly
- take your time to respond well, especially if the interview is being taped ahead of time
- if you’re appearing virtually, be aware of your background—don’t face the camera toward a door or window where people could walk by
8. Create a video pitch
When you’re ready, create your video pitch.
A video pitch is like an audition tape, but it shouldn’t look like an audition. Instead, use your pitch to show the producer that you know what compelling video looks like.
Have a videographer come out and help you tell your story.
If you’re not sure what that means, check out this brilliant YouTube trailer for the book Mommy Lied to God.
9. Leverage any past media experiences
From blogs to professional web publications, to podcasts and television—each new level of media expects more experience than the one before.
So if you want to get on TV, don’t start by applying to huge morning shows in big-city markets like New York and Los Angeles.
Instead, work your way up. Start with professional publications, podcasts, and webcasts. Prove yourself there.
Then, leverage that experience to approach smaller markets where you don’t have to be a TV star to appear on local television.
Unlike other media pitches, you do need to provide your past media experience when pitching for television, so be sure to add it to your media kit.
10. Link to videos on your social media
Your media kit can also provide links to any of your social media channels where you’ve been posting videos of yourself.
This can be YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, or any platform where you’ve previously posted videos. These prove you’re comfortable on camera and that you know how to present yourself professionally.
11. Use PR tools for your outreach
Once you have a great pitch, you’ll need to find the right person to send it to.
Getting on TV isn’t like approaching small podcasts, which often have an open call for new guests and an application form.
Instead, you have to start by finding the right person—and getting that contact information isn’t easy.
So what do you do if you don’t happen to know any TV producers?
The best way to find TV contacts is to use a professional PR tool (if you want to handle the process yourself).
For more information, check out our list of both free and paid PR tools.
12. Or hire a publicist
Another option is to hire a publicist who can make those connections for you.
They tend to be somewhat expensive, but that’s because they’ve invested significant time building the relationships you’ll otherwise have to build from scratch.
They also have inside information about the industry, from producer wishlists to current studio practices.
For example, they can guide you through the technical requirements of a virtual appearance. Or they can brief you on studio COVID regulations if you’re going to be in a physical waiting room or live on set.