In today's Author Success Story, I'm interviewing Dr. Wade McCoy about his success in landing regional media coverage for his book, A Rainbow in the Dark, which he co-authored with Patrick Chalfant. The book is a fictionalized account of the extraordinary early life of Dr. Henry Kirkland, a black man who grew up in rural Oklahoma in the 1940s and 50s and became a noted university professor.
Dr. McCoy, how were you able to land television interviews to promote your book?
As with many things, breaks often come from "luck" and people you know. But in general, authors need a "hook" or angle that will get the media's attention. Timing is a big issue too. Because my book has race relations in it, Martin Luther King Jr. Day in January and Black History Month in February are good times to get publicity. You really have to think "how can I make my book current and relevant today."
We have been on two television segments and one online video associated with our newspaper, The Oklahoman. The first interview I was able to get because I had the interesting hook of being a doctor and diagnosing my former professor, Dr. Kirkland, with a serious condition that could have caused blindness if gone undiagnosed. I called and asked for the news director at Channel 4 in Oklahoma City. I got passed around and finally connected with a local reporter that does segments called "Is this a great state or what?"
We were also on a local cable talk show. This just came because I learned about it and they are always looking for content, especially local influence. That show is called "Live on KSBI" and we are going to do another segment with them on Black History Month.
The video interview was a result of the newspaper article we landed in The Oklahoman and it's on their website.
The host on the Oklahoman video did a great job of featuring your book. Did you give her any interview questions or prompting in advance?
We did not give her questions, but she had read the newspaper article already. When doing television interviews, be sure to supply them with any relevant photos and a copy of the book. Photos really add to the story and keep people's attention. Also, realize that the segment is amazingly short. Be quick and say as much as you can, and be good to your host by not going on and on. This will keep them from having to do a lot of editing.
What advice do you have for other authors on getting coverage in regional media?
NEVER turn down the chance to talk about your book to a group or do a signing. No matter how small the group, you never know what that contact will lead to. Our coverage has been in the local Oklahoma City area and now soon in Tulsa. We have designed a media kit, and plan on reaching out to the Dallas market next.
Authors, remember that regional media coverage can be a stepping stone to broader markets. By doing interviews on local radio or television shows, you will gain confidence and experience and you'll also start to generate audio and video clips that you can show to larger media outlets. It works the same way with print media – start local and then expand your publicity efforts.