Amanda Luedeke

June 12, 2014

Thursdays with Amanda: Do Radio and TV Spots Sell Books?



Amanda Luedeke is a literary agent with MacGregor Literary. Every Thursday, she posts about growing your author platform. You can follow her on Twitter @amandaluedeke or join her Facebook group to stay current with her wheelings and dealings as an agent. Her author marketing book, The Extroverted Writer, is available from Amazon and Barnes & Noble.


A bestselling author wrote us to ask about the usefulness of TV and radio spots in today’s multimedia culture. The question was something like this:

 I’ve been approached by a number of radio and TV shows. They want me to go on air for an interview or guest spot. With radio this isn’t a problem, though I certainly am questioning the effectiveness of such a marketing strategy in today’s culture, but with the TV opportunities, they never want to help me with travel costs.  And I’m simply not going to spend $1000 in travel costs for nine minutes of air time when I know for a fact that my sales have never spiked after such an appearance. Am I wrong in my thinking here? What’s the value of this kind of old school marketing?

TV and radio spots on well-known networks or shows seem to make publishers happy. They like the notoriety, and frankly, authors like it too. But you’re right. It can get very expensive and like most marketing, there isn’t a guarantee that your sales will increase. In fact I’d say that in nearly all cases of the author going on TV or radio to promote a book, the sales stay relatively the same.

I blame this on a few factors:

  1. Readers are being more stingy with their book money, and
  2. This kind of marketing doesn’t carry the weight that it once did because we live in an age in which consumers are being targeted nearly every single moment of every single day.

It’s that last point that I’d like to expand upon.

TV and radio used to be great promotional tools, but that’s because there were few ways consumers could learn about new or noteworthy products. We’re talking back in the day when people would order things via catalogue, and when commercials were the main advertising tool for companies. I remember, as a kid, being entirely unaware of new toys unless I either saw the toy advertised on TV or managed to convince my parents to take me to the toy store. Those were my options. TV or the in-store experience.

But now, we’re blasted with advertising every moment we’re online (which happens to be ALL THE TIME, thanks to smart phones). Product placement is on the rise, and even Xbox and PlayStation video games hold their share of advertsiements, tucked away into the background of the game world.

Paired with this is a world in which consumers can research every product that is a potential match for their needs. They can read reviews and watch videos and Tweet or Facebook the companies about their products. Consumers have the convenience of making educated and well-researched purchasing decisions. And while you may think that this only happens when it comes to expensive products, you’re wrong. Just the other week, I spent an hour or two researching a $20-30 fitness band for my cell phone.

So this is what we’re facing…not only authors, but every company and every person who has a product that they’re promoting. Consumers are taking their time making decisions, and it’s not so much about getting the big TV spot as it is consistently getting your product in front of potential consumers. The more they see it. The more they hear about it. The more they read about it. The more inclined they are to research it–to weigh it against the others. AND the more likely, then, they are to view it favorably. Because we all feel good about products that we feel we understand and can trust.

That’s what marketing is these days…creating as many touch points as you can with your potential consumers. So to answer your question, I’d say that if TV and radio are just going to be one more touch point in your marketing efforts, and if the money spent doing those things could go farther than if you spent it elsewhere, then by all means give yourself the freedom to walk away from TV and radio and opt for the opportunities that will give you the biggest bang for your buck.

What has been your experience with radio and TV spots? Feel free to share your thoughts either as a marketer or a consumer!


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  • Cathy Lewis says:

    TV and radio spots can be used in so many ways these days. TV spots can be put on You Tube and then on social media, radio podcasts can be shared on social media, an author’s website and are available to listen at anytime. These appearances boost an authors’ visibility even if a hugh amount of sales don’t happen at the moment after interview. I totally disagree with this post. Read this interview with a client about radio

  • This is so interesting, Amanda. I especially enjoyed your insights at the end because I can see how that’s true for me as a consumer. Thank you!

    • Amanda Luedeke says:

      Yep, it’s true for me too. I hear someone talking about a book on the radio or TV and I may log it away for later, but I’m not rushing to the store or the web to purchase or even seriously consider it.

  • Ellen Gee says:

    Great post Amanda. Are there any genres that would be an exception here? I see so many authors on TV promoting books. It’s hard to believe it doesn’t generate sales.

    • Amanda Luedeke says:

      I’d say if you have a nonfiction book, and if you can get on a major network or show, then you may see a spike in sales. But I’ve heard plenty of stories of authors who go on CNN or FoxNews and come away with what they feel is nothing. In the long run the exposure is great, and if you can generate numerous touch points with your audience, you’re more likely to see conversions. But if you look at each appearance individually, you’d probably be disappointed…of course there are ALWAYS exceptions.

    • Ellen Gee says:

      Thank you Amanda

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