by Ellie Kay
I have had the privilege of knowing Ellie Kay since I first found her book proposal in the slush pile while an editor at Bethany House. That proposal became the first of her fourteen published books. I later became her literary agent and together we have seen her wrestle with a number of issues related to a growing platform. From those humble beginnings in the late 90s Ellie has been on nearly every major radio and television program including Nightline (twice) and was a regular on ABC’s “Good Money” for quite some time. I invited her to be our guest blogger on the question of whether or not an author should pay their own way to a media opportunity. I know you will find her thoughts insightful. Make sure to visit her web site at www.elliekay.com and get her newest book The 60 Minute Money Workout.
One question authors often ask is, “Where should I put my marketing dollars?” When you have an opportunity to go on a national show but you have to fund the trip yourself, how can you make sure it’s worth what I call the “Media Investment.”
If you are invited on a show, make sure that they are a class act, with a nice set, great team of professionals, excellent production quality and easy to work with ahead of time. But never pay production costs and rarely pay for play! (“Pay for Play” means you pay a booking agent to secure you a spot on a major show like The Today Show. This is different from the work of a publicist so please don’t confuse the two.) I do have a source that has a worthwhile pay-for-placement schedule and if you email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, I’ll send you her contact info. The focus of this blog however is looking at the question of whether or not to pay your own travel costs to a media event.
A big consideration is if your publicity dollars are tight–then you might want to pass. Instead, spend those dollars on your website, social media and radio or skype opportunities that can be done from your home office.
That having been said, there are some ways to make the possibility of a national television appearance more viable financially, even if you have to fund travel yourself. Here are some ideas:
1) TWO FOR ONE DEAL — Dovetail the media trip into a nearby major market media trip. If the media opportunity is in Chicago, for example, see if there is other media you could also do in that area, or even a speaking event. If your publisher will pay for you to do a nearby media market tour, then let them know you’ll do the secondary show on your own. This might make your publisher more likely to fund the first market for you since they will be getting a “two for one” deal out of it –two media markets for their one market investment. Or, if you are speaking at an event near the proposed television show, then dovetail the media gig off the speaking gig.
2) MULTIPLES —Pitch the producer with the idea of recording multiple interviews. If you can do the live interview that day, then record 2 to 3 more interview segments on the set after the show, then they will have these shows in the can and you will be on once a week until these segments run out. It makes your monetary investment (for the trip) more valuable. This is how I was able to be on one international show 12 times in 3 trips. I did one live show on each of these trips and 3 recorded shows. But please note: THESE MUST BE ARRANGED BEFOREHAND. Don’t make the pitch about multiple shows the day before you travel and then expect to record afterwards. Pitch the idea of multiples ahead of time, before you book the show and see if they have time in their production schedule to make it work.
3) TIMELESS – If your interview is not headline driven, try to make it timeless by avoiding mention of events in the news, holidays, days of the week or seasons. Remember to tell the producer that you are going to try not to “date” the interview so they can re-air it at another time in case it fits another show in the future and they want to drop in as a segment again on another show.
4) SKYPE – Pitch the idea of a skype interview (free for you). If the angle of your story can become newsworthy (highlighting something that is in that day’s headlines), then they might consider a skype interview. These are usually reserved for those who have been in studio at least once and proven that they can handle an interview. But if you have media clips you could show them and if you’ve done skype interviews before, then make the offer. That way you don’t incur any travel expenses at all. Furthermore, if you go in studio (following one of the tips listed), then be sure you get the producer’s card for future skype opportunities.
NEW AUTHORS – For some writers who are new to the game, a show where you have to fund your own travel would be a good option for you if:
- you are just starting out in media & want the experience
- you have the money to invest, and/or
- you really need a media clip of you on an international or national show. In these cases, it could be all right to invest in going on this show.
But be sure you try to get the most “bang for your buck” by following some of the ideas I listed above.
BONUS TIP: If you are recording multiple interviews (in person or via skype) for a faith-based program, try to make one of them a bit more generic (or crossover friendly). Oftentimes these clips are required by national shows like The Today Show, the Nate Berkus Show, ABC News, CNN, CNBC, MSNBC, etc, when they are exploring the idea of having you on a show. These mainstream producers might come calling (or if your publicist pitches them) and they will ask for a media clip to see how you look and act on the air. If you have a clip that is more mainstream (and less evangelical), then you’re more likely to get the media booking.
Great info! Thanks, Ellie.
Ellie, Great blog! Wish I had read it about a year ago. But live and learn–sometimes that’s the best lessons.