Radio Interviews Don’t Sell Books – And 4 Other Myths of Book Publicity

There are many misconceptions about book publicity; some a result of misunderstanding of the dynamics of media exposure, and some from outdated advice which no longer applies to today’s market.

Below are just a few myths, some of which I’ve gone into more detail in other postings or articles, but I wanted to compile them for easy review.

1) Myth: Radio interviews don’t sell books—Radio interviews certainly don’t always sell books, but they often do, sometimes many books. It depends on the topic and the skill of the guest being interviewed. Also, radio interviews follow what I call a “cumulative effect.” Put simply, the more you do the more you will start to see books move. Picture a map on your wall, and pins stuck in the location of every interview you complete. The more pins on that map, the more likely you’ll see a cumulative effect, and see books starting to move.

2) Myth: Summer is a bad time to promote a book—In my experience, this is flat-out not true. Why? Because the very fact that many people still think summer is a bad time, means less competition you’ll have when vying for media attention. Do newspapers and magazines and radio shows stop in the summer? Of course not. Do local network affiliate TV talk and news shows stop in the summer? No!

3) Myth: Authors should focus only on the highest level media—This is what I call the “Oprah effect,” and it can destroy an author’s chances of success. As I often say, an author should swing for the home runs diligently, but at the same time go after ALL med ia of any size in any location. It’s Book Promotion 101; ignore smaller media at your own peril. A comprehensive publicity campaign is exactly that, comprehensive, including all levels of media.

4) Myth: Pay-per-placement is the best and least expensive route to take—Well, not so fast. Intuitively, yes, it makes sense: Paying only for what you get is logical, you can’t go wrong. Correction … you can go wrong. There are certainly very reputable pay-per-placement firms which do fine work. The key is to carefully evaluate exactly what you will be paying for. In many cases, a retainer-based fee can actually produce results equivalent to a good pay-per-placement arrangement, at much lower cost. Plus, if a publicist is working on multiple projects, his or her attention will naturally be placed on the easier-to-promote title since this is their pay structure.

5) Myth: A self-published book will never get coverage by a national newspaper or TV show—Ten years ago … maybe so, but now, things have changed, significantly. Self-published authors are routinely interviewed on national TV shows; my firm books them every week! Newspapers, magazines, and radio … for the most part, the media doesn’t care how a book was published, as long as the topic is relevant, the book professionally designed, and the author can provide solid information. When it comes to book reviews, your self-published book will indeed not be reviewed in the New York Times or other major review outlets, but you and your book can be featured in those same outlets via print interviews, feature stories, etc.

Dan Smith is the Founder and CEO of Smith Publicity Inc. Beginning in 1997, Smith Publicity is one of the world’s leading promotional firms, specializing in book publicity. Fueled by a passion for making good things happen for clients, the company has worked with over 900 individuals and companies–from authors and entrepreneurs to publicly-held companies and businesses representing a wide range of industries. The Smith Publicity reach is international with offices in New Jersey, New York City, Los Angeles, and London. For more information about Smith Publicity, Inc., please visit