Book Promotion: Making the Most of Local Radio Opportunities

retro radio setIf one of your marketing ambitions for your self-published book in 2016 is to get a gig on a local radio station, read on! ALLi members share their experience here, with three interesting case studies that should help you pluck up the courage to take the plunge, and make the best of any radio opportunity that comes your way.



Five Top Tips from a Seasoned Radio Guest

Author photo of Lucienne Boyce

Lucienne Boyce, historian and historical novelist, whose latest novel, Bloodie Bones, has been shortlisted for the Historical Novel Society indie award 2016.

cover of The Bristol Suffragettes by Lucienne BoyceI love doing radio work. For me, it all started when I published my first novel To The Fair Land in 2012. I sent out a press release about the book, angling on the local author with local setting, and was delighted to get some positive responses from local media. I was invited onto Steve Yabsley’s BBC Radio Bristol show, and also did an interview on the fabulous Susie Grogan’s 10Radio show, Talking Books, as well as an interview on community radio station BCfM. After that I was lucky to be asked back onto various shows. On one occasion I’d gone in for a Steve Yabsley show when I met someone on the Phil Hammond show , who asked if I’d go on that.

Cover of Bloodie Bones by Lucienne BoyceThe 2013 publication of my non-fiction book, The Bristol Suffragettes, coincided with both national and local anniversaries in the history of the movement. I was approached by BBC Radio Bristol, as well as BBC Television, and BCfM invited me onto an hour-long show on International Women’s Day.

I’ve done several radio interviews since then, some around the launch of my latest novel, Bloodie Bones: A Dan Foster Mystery, and if I’ve any news to share, I now have contacts in the various local radio stations I can go to with information.

I think there are several things that make for success on radio:

  1. Turn up! One interviewer commented that she knew she could rely on me being there, and being on time.
  2. Do the job! Once you’ve shown you can deliver an interview, you are more likely to be asked back. Monosyllabic answers and long silences don’t really work on radio!
  3. Don’t forget the value of networking. On one occasion I was at a book launch and I was introduced to Cheryl Morgan of Ujima Radio’s Women’s Outlook programme. I’ve now been on this lovely show several times since.
  4. Remember that programmers are always looking for material to fill their shows – but make sure that what you send them is of interest to them and fits with their programme.
  5. Sometimes the notice you get is very short so if you want to work on radio, be prepared to respond quickly when the call comes!

Local Doesn’t Always Mean Where You Live

Headshot of Stephen Oram

Stephen Oram

London-based Stephen Oram describes how he made the most of a broadcast opportunity when his debut novel came out last year. 

Cover of Quantum Confessions by Stephen OramDuring the launch of Quantum Confessions, I was speaking at a festival near to my home town of Kettering. I approached BBC Radio Northampton and they invited me to join their live Sunday morning broadcast because they were interested in me as a local lad and in the topic of my talk, “Who chooses what is true?” I was impressed at how seamlessly the presenter switched from the previous item and quickly put me at ease. He genuinely engaged with the topic of my talk and gave me a lot of space to talk about the book and the nature of truth. I loved the whole experience, and I’ll definitely jump at the chance again when it’s next offered.

Never Give Up !

Photo of Paul Murphy with Joanna Penn

Paul Murphy with Joanna Penn at the London Book Fair 2014

Paul Murphy, author of creative non-fiction, including an homage to Laurie Lee’s As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning:

My experience is a lesson in perseverance as I had targeted them in the run up to launching As I Walked Out Through Spain in Search of Laurie Lee in time for Laurie Lee’s Centenary in June 2014. I secured an interview as part of the station’s coverage of the local boy’s-made-good centenary, but it never actually transpired – things change quickly in the media. Cover of Paul Murphy's first bookHowever, I ensured that news of the book was always copied or tweeted to my contact at the station.

Then, when the BBC aired a new version of Cider With Rosie in September 2015, I got a call asking me to contribute to a discussion of the programme on the following morning. This was followed a few weeks later by an invitation to talk about the writer linked to a local event.

Different Inroads

Debbie Young in BBC Radio Gloucestershire reception

Debbie Young at her local BBC Radio station, where she’s a panellist on a monthly Book Club slot

Launching a book doesn’t necessarily create an opportunity to appear on the radio. What works better is building a long-term local relationship and being available for when a producer or host needs someone like you to talk on a topic relevant to your books and writing.

I’m very lucky to be a regular guest on BBC Radio Gloucestershire, as part of a monthly Book Club slot on a lunchtime show, formerly hosted by Clare Carter, and now by Dominic Cotter. Alongside fellow guest Caroline Sanderson, Associate Editor of The Bookseller magazine, we talk about general trends in books and reading, and we pick a book of the month to read and review together. It’s great fun for all concerned, and it also means that it’s one regular hour in the schedule that the station knows will be reliably filled with relatively little effort on their part. It think it’s a great formula that could easily be emulated by other local radio stations – you can read more about it on my author blog here, if you’re interested. Our next show will be on Wednesday 13th January at 12noon London time, if you’d care to tune in.

Caroline Sanderson Claire Carter

From left, Caroline Sanderson, Clare Carter and Debbie Young

Now that they have me on their books as a local author, it’s easy for them to bring me in whenever they need someone to talk about writing. Twice I’ve been part of a panel broadcasting from the Cheltenham Literature Festival (the first time alongside the lovely and hugely successful Katie Fforde). Once I was even invited to talk about what it’s like to have a butterfly mind, as presenter Anna King had been intrigued by my Twitter profile, where that’s how I’d described myself! Perhaps the biggest surprise was when Clare Carter asked my permission to perform one of my short stories from my Christmas collection, Stocking Fillers, at a Christmas charity concert. Of course, I said yes!

Like Lucienne and Paul, I’ve also been on Suzie Grogan’s super Talking Books programme, and in fact have Lucienne to thank for the introduction. Broadcasters who like interviewing authors are always on the look-out for good candidates, so don’t hesitate in putting yourself forward, or recommending other author friends, as Lucienne so kindly did for us.

Relax – You Can Do It!

The most important piece of advice that I’d like to share is this: relax! Many authors worry that they’ll be asked difficult or trick questions, but there’s no danger of that – for this kind of programme, the host’s objective will be the same as yours: to provide interesting, pleasant listening. Radio hosts are usually really good at putting you at your ease and will go out of their way to make you feel comfortable and relaxed. Sometimes your interview may even be pre-recorded, which means it doesn’t matter if you make a mistake, because they can edit it out.

studio pic

It’s good fun, honest! Debbie Young in the studio with BBC Radio Gloucestershire presenter Chris Baxter

Finally, unless you are very pressed for time, never turn down an invitation on the basis that the radio station inviting you is too small or insignificant. Shows with a smaller audience will help you build up your confidence at minimal risk, honing you for dealing with bigger stations as you become more well known.


Do you have a hot tip to share about being a guest on local radio stations? Or a cautionary tale? Please feel free to share it in a comment.Top tips for #author #radio appearances by @DebbieYoungBN and friends Click To Tweet

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8 Responses to Book Promotion: Making the Most of Local Radio Opportunities

  1. Colin Coles January 30, 2016 at 4:58 pm #

    Very interesting for a novice, like me. I have a radio appearance on local radio next Monday. My novel is a romantic thriller. It is my second invitation to talk about one of my novels. Very excited about being given the opportunity to talk on radio. I’ve just read that you need about ten goes before you are good at it. That means I need to write eight more novels then!

  2. Di Castle January 24, 2016 at 6:15 pm #

    I did an interview with Hope FM the Bournemouth station and they did it over the phone as it was an early breakfast show. It was great and I got coverage on their Facebook page and their website.

  3. Rosie Morgan January 20, 2016 at 9:31 pm #

    Food for thought here. I’ve always been slightly terrified of doing something like this but maybe it could be fun… or at least an experience.

    • Debbie Young January 21, 2016 at 8:18 am #

      Definitely fun when you get into the swing of it, Rosie – go for it!

  4. Denise Barnes January 10, 2016 at 7:41 pm #

    I love doing radio talks. And the interviewers are always super, They will mention your name and the title of your book at least twice throughout, and you can mention it a couple of times, so it’s a really good plug.

    I only had one interviewer on a breakfast radio show in Tunbridge Wells who steered me into divulging personal stuff that I really shouldn’t have. All rather gossipy. But he still mentioned the book so what the heck.

    They are not there to trip you up or make themselves look big – they’re there to have a nice friendly interesting author on their programme who their listeners will enjoy hearing.

  5. Philippa Rees January 10, 2016 at 6:21 pm #

    Great stories Debbie. I must try harder. Talking I can still manage!


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