A guest post by Rebecca Lang
Before becoming a talent on QVC, though, I had to be trained on the QVC campus in West Chester, Pennsylvania, about 40 minutes outside of Philadelphia. My training took place about three months before my segment, though a shorter turnaround time is much more common. The one-day training is part media training and part QVC academy.
Training takes place before your first appearance only. The atmosphere was comfortable and welcoming and I received constructive criticism on all aspects of my presentation. My book, Around the Southern Table, is a personal reflection of the table I inherited from my grandmother that still serves as the center of my home. To nail a one-minute pitch that summed up my product, when it’s that close to my heart, was no easy task.
In my group were others training with their products, which included skin care, exercise equipment, and lawn tools. But we had one common goal: To represent our products the best that we could. Taped practice sessions with a host provided a hands-on experience of how the set feels and what it was like to spend time with the host on air.
Cookbook segments on QVC are not cooking segments, like they are on most channels. They are more visually based, with a large table of styled dishes in front of the author and the host. I worked with our vendor for weeks in advance to choose 10 to 12 dishes. I needed a variety of recipes: ones that would look scrumptious on camera; and those that represented the food in the entire book.
When I arrived at QVC for my first segment, the grand lobby was nearly silent, with monitors on the walls. The screens showed live views of QVC in other countries around the world. The vendor who handles the book sales from my publisher to QVC was also my driver, host, friend, and advisor. Having him there made me much less anxious about the entire process.
Once in the studio, guests go to the green room and choose one of the dressing rooms. These rooms are usually shared but provide plenty of space for hanging clothes and steamers. Thankfully, they have good light for last minute cosmetic retouches. All guests receive a pager so they can be notified easily when they’re needed on set or in the salon. The atmosphere is relaxed and comfortable, unlike a lot of studios.
Guests should arrive with hair and makeup ready, but the salon provides touch-ups. It’s definitely the best touching-up I’ve ever had in a studio. I’ve always had a fascination with makeup, so I enjoyed sitting in front of that sea of colors and soft brushes and someone who knew what to do with it all.
My publisher hired a food stylist to make the dishes look beautiful for television. Walking into the kitchen and seeing all the dishes already made was unreal, because I’ve hauled equipment and props and styled food for my own segments for years. Even better, the stylist chose the props to match the feel of the book.
Just before going on set, I was given my microphone and an IFB (an earpiece worn so I could hear any possible callers). I was delighted to be on David Venable’s show, called In the Kitchen with David. He was as comforting and personable as he is on screen. He knows cooking and he is a much beloved friend to his viewers.
The segment seemed to fly by. David was infectious with his passion and enthusiasm. It was similar to being at a lively party where the energy radiates in the room and no one wants to go home. To my delight, the food was still warm when we tasted it during the segment. The stylist times it all like a dance.
David and I sold about 3,500 books in about seven minutes. Since that first segment, I have been back to QVC for two other segments for another book, The Southern Cake Book, which includes two of my recipes. On my second segment, we sold out completely and it was an incredible thrill ride. I returned a third time, also with The Southern Cake Book, and sold almost 6,000 copies. So far I have sold more than 16,000 copies of both books.
How might it work for you to get on QVC? My publisher sold my book to QVC through an independent vendor, who handles the sales and details of delivery and appearances on QVC. If your publisher does not have a connection with QVC or you self-published, apply to become a vendor to sell your own product on QVC.
If and when the call comes, remember that showing enthusiasm, pride, and a real relationship with your book is imperative to connecting with viewers. Most of us are head-over-heels in love with our own books, so it shouldn’t be too much of a stretch. Know your book and know it well. It’s common for a long time to pass between turning in a manuscript and a publication date. Study it again. Take it all in and enjoy every moment.
Got a question for Rebecca about appearing on QVC, or a comment? Leave a comment below.
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Rebecca Lang is the author of Around the Southern Table, Quick-Fix Southern, Mary Mac’s Tea Room, and Southern Entertaining for a New Generation. Rebecca is a contributing editor for Southern Living, and she and her cooking have been featured in more than 50 nationally televised Southern Living food segments and in publications such as The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, and Glamour and Fitness magazines.
A ninth-generation Southerner, Rebecca teaches cooking classes across America, and writes a blog. Her writing has appeared in many publications including Disney’s Family Fun, Taste of the South, and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. She has worked on the editorial aspects of more than 30 books. A former assistant food editor at Oxmoor House, Rebecca earned a journalism degree from the University of Georgia and a culinary arts degree from Johnson & Wales University. She apprenticed with Southern cooking legend Nathalie Dupree.
Find her on Twitter @rebeccalangcook.