Saturday, November 22, 2008

Why it is so challenging to pitch authors to radio

Radio and authors seem like a natural fit. There are so many wonderful regional radio programs around the country, and it only makes sense that some of them will be just right for particular authors, especially those who are conversational and have an exciting story to tell.

So why doesn't your publisher simply keep an exhaustive list of radio producers, and assertively pitch you to them? Come to think of it, why didn't your publisher bother to book you on regional radio programs all over this great land of ours?

I just found out why. Because every show, no matter how small, wants a free copy of the book. The cost of the book itself isn't even the biggest barrier, because books are far less expensive for publishers than you might think. But there's a second consideration: postage. And a third consideration: people power to label packages and stuff envelopes, plus the clerical work involved in keeping track of personnel changes (even the expensive media database services aren't perfect at this).

Can you imagine how much time and effort it would take to package, label, and send out several hundred copies of a book just to land a slew of regional and/or local radio shows? Of course it is worth it for the national shows, and even for the major regionals. But when you're talking about a program that has a community reach or even smaller (some stations only broadcast for a few miles), unless you're fairly certain they'll want your author, it becomes a game of diminishing returns.

Anyone who reads this blog knows how much I love community and regional radio. This is not even remotely a swipe at these programs or their producers -- I can certainly understand why they would want to see the actual book before inviting a guest on the show. But now that I have spent some quality time pitching certain select authors to radio programs nationwide, I also get why it doesn't happen more often, and why publishers don't typically go hog wild pitching their authors all over the USA. Who can afford it?

This is one time when an electronic version of the book available online in a limited format for regional radio and TV programs might be the way to go. But the technology just isn't there -- as a producer you can't look at the electronic version (yet) and tell whether the book is cool enough for your program. If I find a solution to this interesting dilemma, I'll post it.

(Oh, and the next time any authors reading this blog are tempted to sigh that your publisher didn't seem to push your book hard enough on radio, um, send me a note and we'll tawlk.)

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