Who Will Be the New Oprah?

Oprah Winfrey has announced that she will end her long-running talk show in 2011, and there is a lot of speculation about who—if anyone—will be able to fill her shoes.

Authors love Oprah. A single mention by Oprah is considered enough to launch a book on the best seller lists, and most authors dream of sitting next to Oprah for an interview. So who will authors look to when Oprah is no longer on the air? Who will be the new Oprah Winfrey?

Names that have been suggested to “replace” Oprah include Ellen DeGeneres, Dr. Oz, Tyra Banks, Wendy Williams, Martha Stewart, Bonnie Hunt, Rachael Ray, Whoopi Goldberg and even Sarah Palin.

There is no one obvious heir-apparent to the talk show throne. No other talk show has the mix of topics and features found on The Oprah Winfrey Show. Ellen DeGeneres is great for celebrity interviews, Dr. Oz deals with medical issues, Martha Stewart and Rachael Ray have lifestyle topics covered, and Dr. Phil does the family/psychology stuff, but no one does it all.

So where will authors go to promote their books? The best guess as of right now is that there will not be another Oprah. Her success and influence would be hard to match. However, the shows mentioned previously have sizable audiences, and would be effective for promoting the right books.

That means that authors should approach the shows that are the best fit for their books. Good advice, even now. After all, Oprah does recommend books for her book club like she used to and in recent years she has tended to feature the same experts again and again, such as Peter Walsh for everything related to organizing. That has meant fewer authors being promoted by Oprah than there used to be.

Even at the height of Oprah-mania, getting a book mentioned by Oprah did not automatically mean selling millions of copies. Or even thousands. The books Oprah enthusiastically promoted sold by the truckload; however, authors who were interviewed on the show sometimes sold tons of books and sometimes just a few. An appearance on The Oprah Winfrey Show was never a guarantee of a best seller.

The best thing an author can do is to promote everywhere. A home run (such as a major national television show appearance) is great, but those base hits add up. Each publicity success adds to the one before it, and if you generate momentum with coverage in a number of places, you will sell a lot of books.

Still determined to get on Oprah’s show? Well, her current show will be on the air until 2011. And she has a new network where it is likely she will have a show after that. So maybe the new Oprah will be…Oprah.