You have a book to promote, and local television programs have time to fill. It's a win-win situation if you can convince the right people that you are the right person to fill some of that air time.
This whole process is going to be a lot easier for you if you live in a smaller television market area. Obviously, it's tougher to get on in New York City or L.A. than in Topeka or Tallahassee. Airtime is valuable, no matter where you are, and it's a good idea to consider stations in all the local markets within driving distance of you.
Here's where to find the call letters and website links for every local station in every television market city in the country. www.stationindex.com. This site lists the television stations by state (in case you'd like to target markets statewide) www.officialusa.com/stateguides/media.
Morning and noon shows are your best bets. They usually feature lighter fare, and unless you're in a very small town kind of atmosphere, a new book by a local author isn't going to make the evening or late night news. Some stations may also have late morning or early afternoon shows that specifically look for lifestyle and entertainment type news. Those are golden. You can find out on each station's website which newscasts they air daily, and many will even let you watch a recorded or live streaming version of their newscasts online so you can get a feel for what kind of stories they'll feature.
Once you've identified the stations in your area, and you have their phone numbers, you're ready to get yourself booked for an interview. Do call-- emails are too easy to ignore. After you reach the right person and speak to them, then you can email them information about your book and yourself so they can judge whether you're a nice normal author person whose publishing info they can check out or a whackadoodle who shouldn't be allowed anywhere near their studios (stations get a lot of calls from those).
When your nice normal non-whackadoodle self calls and reaches the station's newsroom, you'll probably be speaking to someone on the assignment desk-- that's who usually answers the main newsroom phone. At this point, you can ask if there's a specific producer you should speak to about booking an appearance on the morning/noon/lifestyle show. They might say "no" and just take your information themselves (more on that in a minute.) If the answer is yes, they'll put you through to the producer or associate producer (or their voicemail). The mid-morning or noon producer will naturally not be there to take your call in the late afternoon or evening. Producers of early morning news will often come in to work at around 11pm or midnight and work all night and may (or may not) answer the phone themselves overnight, so if you're a nightowl, you might get right through.
Have a loose script in mind for what you'll want to say to them- maybe a notepad in hand with your main points in case you're a little nervous. Sound friendly, professional, very polite, and like you might be a bit of fun on television. You'll want to let them know you're from the area, have a book just published (or about to be), and to whom the book will most likely appeal. Lucky you if your book happens to be in a hot-for-the-moment genre, for instance, if it's dystopian and you can say that fans of The Hunger Games series would love to read it. Or if your theme might tie in with a show that airs on their station, even loosely, for instance, you have a murder-suspense novel and they air one of the many popular crime scene investigation shows. Volunteer to send the book and whatever publicity materials you might have. Give them your website and/or blog info so they can check you out (for whackadoodleness).
If someone doesn't seem interested, just move on to the next station. You've made it to this point, so that skin must have gotten thickened up along the way to being published. If you're told the show is booked up for awhile, you can always volunteer that you'd be available to fill in on short notice (if you indeed can) should someone else cancel. That does happen-- all the time-- and producers are left scrambling to fill the spot of someone who's cancelled on them for whatever reason. They might just keep your name and number on hand and give you a call (and a great opportunity) when that happens.
Of course, once you've got that tv interview lined up, you actually have to do it- yikes! What will they ask you? What can you expect when you get there? I'll cover that next Media Monday!