This morning I got up at 4 AM to do what in the industry they call a "satellite radio tour" supporting The Distraction Addiction.
Here's how it works: radio stations need interviews with authors, because they have to fill time between commercials. There are thousands of radio stations, lots of authors, but everybody has a hard time connecting.
I have no idea how to pitch to a radio station, or even who in a station I would talk to. Despite the many excellent reviews, lots of radio producers haven't heard of my book. Publishers want you to get exposure in as many places as possible, as soon after the book comes out as possible. Word of mouth viral marketing is fine, but it's weeks after a book comes out when you have the best prospect of driving sales.
This situation is a perfect example of an inefficient market that needs intermediaries: people who will act as brokers between buyers (the radio stations) and sellers (authors and their publishers), finding producers who are interested in certain books, then coordinating and scheduling the interviews. The result? The satellite tour.
Like I said, I was up at 4, and by 4:25 was in my garage office, ready to go. I've done enough interviews to know generally what kinds of questions people like to pitch, and I had already written those out on cards, which I had put up around my desk. I also had a copy of the book; plenty of things to write down notes on; and my iPad open to a file that let me write down the names of the people I was talking to, what station and area they're from (you don't want to give a shout-out to Raleigh when you're talking to Rochester), and what questions they asked.
At 4:30, the phone rang. (I had bought a new phone for the office a couple days ago.) The satellite tour company was ready to connect me to the first interview, in Birmingham, Alabama. The interview lasted almost exactly ten minutes; after it was finished, the satellite tour operator connected me to the next station.
And the next.
And the next, and the next. It kept going.
By 9 AM, I had done sixteen interviews. I covered Atlanta, New York, Palm Springs, Detroit, Lynchburg, Phoeniz, San Jose, Cleveland, Houston, Ocean City, and half a dozen other cities. I said the same things over and over again to new audiences, pared down my responses, worked in as many mentions of the book title as I could, gave out the URL for this blog, and generally tried to be as good a guest and salesman for the book, that I could.
I probably did more interviews today for the book than I have in the previous two years. It was pretty amazing. I'll do some other "phoners," interviews where I phone into the station directly, next week, but this morning was a unique experience.
The good news is, you do get better at is as you go. Your answers get smoother, your ability to mix and match turns of phrase (or at least reach for the lines you want) gets better, you become more familiar with the quick pace– it's hello, right into the interview, thanks goodbye, on to the next– and it all gets more comfortable.
I'm doing another round next week– four or five this time rather than sixteen, but still– and am looking forward to it.