To Pay or Not to Pay for Television Interviews – What’s the Answer?
Guest Post by Irene Watson
I received this from Jill Ammon Vanderwood, children’s books author, through Facebook:
I want to share some information that will help your readers. Please post in your weekly editorial.
As authors you may encounter many marketing experts who want to line their own pockets. I have had phone calls on my voice mail in the past from producers wanting to do television spots for my books. When I call them back, they are only marketing for internet TV and they want to charge fees for the segments they produce.
This week we were very excited to receive an email from the Lifetime Television Network. The producer found out about our book, Drugs Make You Un-Smarter through The Indie Excellence Awards. He said he’s the producer of a morning show called the Balancing Act, and wants to have us on the show for an author segment. He asked for my phone # so he could talk to me.
He called the next day and asked me questions about the book and why we wrote it. He had me go to the website for The Balancing Act and look at the show hosts and the testimonials of past guests. He told me how they do their segments with only 5 minutes of airtime. Then he told me I would have the rights to use the Lifetime Logo, the Balancing Act Logo and even the Interview on my website and anywhere around the web.
I thought, Wait a minute, no one gives you that kind of rights! Then the other shoe dropped. He said it would cost me $5900 to buy the licensing rights.
The first thing out of my mouth was. “You’re not paying our airfare and hotel, are you?”
“No, you will need to be in Florida for at least two nights. We usually film on Monday mornings and we film it over, as many times as necessary to get it right. This is not a commercial.”
I’m not going to tell you the name of this guy, but his last name was very similar to Swindle!
He then said, “I’ll be honest with you, you probably won’t sell enough books through this appearance to earn back the amount you spend. Since you have already been on TV, maybe you don’t need this exposure.”
What? He decided to be honest with me?
I told him I would need to back out!
Later in an email I said, “Most authors are hoping to be the next big thing, but I don’t think this is the way to do it.”
I’ve been approached by this company on many occasions because of the press releases we send out for authors. I have personally talked to them to find out more information as to what they actually do. Basically, it’s a form of advertising even though the producer that talked to Jill said it wasn’t.
After Jill wrote the above to me I decided to check their website to see how many authors they have actually contracted. To date 147 author interviews have been posted. I scanned the list and found one author, Edna Thayer, that I know and immediately sent her an email asking her if she sold enough books to cover the expenses and how many she actually sold. This was her response:
I did not sell enough books to pay for my experience. However it was a marvelous experience that I am very happy I had. Many people did see the show and it was much fun to do. I would do it all over again.
As a business proposition, it is not worth it, but it was all income tax deductible. I used frequent flyer miles to get there.
And it’s hard to put a value on the joy of doing the show.
For direct sales, I probably only had about 8 or 9. But I did get newspaper articles, speaking engagements, and radio shows as a result of it. My sales at Amazon and through Partners increased also following this. I sell most of my books at speaking engagements. I do between 25 and 50 a year.
Edna also wanted me to add:
I want people to know that the people at The Balancing Act were great and I loved the experience even though I didn’t get many direct sales as a result of it. It’s impossible to know how many indirect sales I received as a result of this interview. And Florida is a great place to visit when you’re from MN.
So…what does one do? We are hammered by “experts” that we should never pay for a media interview, or in fact any type of interview. We are told that the media should flock to us. We also get an attitude that publicity should be free for us as authors; after all we have just published a best seller. Maybe so…if we are narcissistic. (Or don’t have a marketing budget and don’t want to admit it.) But, let’s think about this realistically. As in Edna’s case, she could be considered an “unknown” author to the masses. She chose to allot some of her marketing budget to this venture to help her get known. Is that wrong? I don’t think so. For her, spending the $5900 plus was worthwhile while someone else would cringe at this type of advertising but be willing to pay the same amount for an ad in a newspaper or magazine. Or is it any different than paying $15,000 to a publicist only to sell 6 books and not get any interviews or speaking gigs? (Yes, a livid author told me that!) What one thinks is a good marketing strategy another may pooh pooh it. In Jill’s case, doing the 5 minute paid-for gig is not the way she wants to spend her marketing budget. Edna and Jill are both right; they are choosing how to spend their marketing budget in the way they think works best for them.
What is your opinion on this? Do you have any experiences you’d like to share?