Behind the Curtain at TMM

Want Us To Feature Your Book? Here Are 5 Tips:

  Planning Editor Luis Clemens joined 'Tell Me More' in December 2008.

Planning Editor Luis Clemens joined 'Tell Me More' in December 2008. Monika Evstatieva/NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Monika Evstatieva/NPR

Thanks, Michel. Luis Clemens, here ...

As Michel suggested, I have the pleasure/burden of being the editor who takes first crack at selecting which book authors to interview for Tell Me More. There are no hard and fast rules about which titles get airtime and which don't - but, we do observe a few self-imposed guidelines.

1) The book has to matter.

This does not mean the book has to be written by a president or a Nobel prizewinner. It can be a light-hearted summer read that speaks to our audience.

2) Two chapters and out.

The book has to prove its worth by the end of the second chapter. If it hasn't grabbed me by then, well, I am not going to bother reading the rest of it. Every now and then, all I have to do is read the first page. I keep waiting and hoping to fall in love with a freshly published book after only the first paragraph.

It has happened to me before and it is like instantly falling in love:

"She was Lo, plain Lo, in the morning, standing four feet ten in one sock. She was Lola in slacks. She was Dolly at school. She was Dolores on the dotted line. But in my arms, she was always Lolita." - Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov

And ...

"In Africa, you want more, I think." - Mating by Norman Rush

And ...

"Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buend??a was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice." - One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

3) Timing helps.

If the subject of the book happens to coincide with or complement a story that is hot in the news right now, then its chances of getting on air are much improved. Right now, for instance, I would kill for a good biography of Judge Sonia Sotomayor.

4) More non-fiction than fiction.

We believe it helps to hear from an author who has taken a long and hard look at an important story in the news.

5) Distinct.

The book has to stand out in a crowd. Sounds trite, but it is true.

There are some books that meet all these criteria and still don't make it on the air. These volumes inhabit what I call "the shelf of constant reproach." It is kind of an editorial purgatory inhabited by worthy titles awaiting just the right news peg.

All in all, it is an imperfect process but it is enormously satisfying when it works.

We are always open to suggestions. Please share if you think there is a better or smarter way of culling potential author interviews.

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