One of the questions I am asked most frequently is, “Do interviews help sell books?” My answer is always the same, “Sometimes.” This is clearly not the answer most people want to hear. Publicity is not a hard science; it is a soft science. There are many variables that go into making a successful interview. But there is one overriding component that makes a difference. Let me give you one example . . .
I have booked many people on the 700 Club through the years. Because it has such a large national audience most authors believe just being on the show will bring instant success. It doesn’t. I have seen as few as seven responses to as many as 13,000 phone calls. What makes the difference? The couple who saw the greatest response tapped into a felt need. They told their story, how they were about to divorce, and what turned things around. The wife said, “I realized that if anything was going to happen, I needed to be the first to change.” She did. And as a result of her change, her husband softened and changed too.
When listeners or viewers are desperate for answers to their most pressing needs, meeting their felt need is what creates the synergy that generates a positive response. Think about your own life. If you are in a fledgling marriage, have a prodigal child, lost a job, or have a major health issue, what’s foremost on your mind? Your problem. If someone steps into your world and offers a solution, you are open to whatever they have to say that will address the challenges you face. These felt needs beg for real world answers – not just a Bible verse or someone preaching about why you need greater faith.
To the extent that you can identify and tap into a person’s felt need, your chances of selling your book or product increase exponentially. While this may not sound very spiritual, the truth is we write books to help people and getting your book into their hands is part of the equation. This is not just some magic formula or way to manipulate an audience. There are only human needs and human wants and reaching out to meet these needs is part of what Christ calls us to. While not all books have an obvious felt need, there are other important elements to help sell books through an interview. One of these is the amount of enthusiasm you convey. And no matter how good of an interview you give, you must drive people to your product. Make it easy and quick to find your book – online bookstores or website. And offer a value-added incentive – an autographed copy or a second book for half price.
In his book, “The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life,” Erving Goffman wrote, “Life itself is a dramatically enacted thing.” What he meant is that we are all performing in one way or another, trying to manage perceptions, make a good impression, or simply keep from making fools of ourselves. Facebook is a good example of this phenomenon. Most of us show only what we want others to see. It is an incomplete picture of our reality. An interview is also an incomplete picture of reality but Goffman’s observation is no less important; we are on a stage and how we use that stage matters for selling books or communicating ideas.