I was very lucky to be a radio and television presenter from 2004 – 2012 and in that time I interviewed many authors about their books. The key to an interesting interview for the listeners or viewers is in preparation and research, not just by the presenter but by the author too. The purpose of the interview is to encourage people to buy your book and read it, and that is a key element you should keep in mind when answering questions.
This week a look at how you can prepare for you interview on radio and next week on camera.
Wonderful news, your hard work in promoting your new book on social media and locally has paid off and you get the call or email. An invitation to do an interview on a radio station, television show or author promoting podcast.
Getting an interview on a radio show or an established author podcast is gold dust for an author and as such requires you to take a deep breath and celebrate. Millions of Indies out there would love the opportunity to get their voice heard about their work so give this serious thought.
Following sending out your press releases you hopefully will get some response from the media with a view to interviewing you about your book. Usually the request will come in by email rather than over the phone as it depends on what you have put down as your contact details. However, I would always ring a possible guest as it helped me identify how confident they would be on air. Some authors needed a little more help than others in preparing for the experience, especially when I uttered the terrifying words, ‘It’s a live interview’….
‘Live… You mean I have to talk to thousands of people… Live!!!!’
Not all shows are recorded and in fact my radio shows and Internet television interviews were nearly all live.
These days many stations both radio and television are nervous about the spontaneous nature of some guests in relation to expletives, non- PC remarks etc and whilst there are some filters available they are not prepared to take the risk so pre-record.
I love live interviews and whilst I might make sure my guests are well primed before the microphone is switched on there have been moments……
However, live or recorded, this is a wonderful opportunity to promote your book so dive in and enjoy the experience.
And as you do so, remember that every minute you are on air is FREE advertising that usually costs hundreds if not thousands for every 10 second segment.
And to make the most of this opportunity you need to prepare.
First get in the right frame of mind.
This is about you and your book. It is a chance to talk about the following:
- Your inspiration behind the book
- The research needed for the story
- The writing process
- The inspiration behind the characters
- The plot of the story (blurb)
- Your background
- Your other books or blog
- Your future projects
- How to buy the book
- How to connect to you.
So there are ten topics for conversation already and you have an interview time of between two minutes on prime time to the luxury of fifteen to twenty minutes on local radio stations or podcasts.
Here is how it would go on one of the interviews that I would air with an author. It is a two way process and this is what I would expect from my guest to ensure that not only do the listeners get the best from the segment but that the author also achieves what they need. I was lucky as I had the luxury of around 12 minutes minimum for an interview with my guests and sometimes if we had a lot to cover I would stretch that by incremental segments of 12 minutes broken up my music.
Me on the radio – my happy place.
I have always enjoyed doing my own research on my guests so that I know who I am going to be talking to and the topics that I feel are important to cover during the interview. However, bless the guest who has given the matter some considerable thought and come up with key points that they feel should be discussed.
This is important as you have a small window of opportunity and if you are to get the full value from it you need to contribute to the process.
When you are invited for an interview on radio you will need to establish how long your interview will be for.
Depending on the length of time you are allotted you should focus on three to five key points for discussion about you and your book.
I like to be as prepared as my guests and if they are an author I always read their book in advance of the interview and prepare my questions. Some presenters have their own researchers and so will be working from questions prepared by them.
Do not be afraid to ask if they might let you have the questions in advance. Then if they do not cover what you consider to be the key points about your book or yourself you can return to them with the addition of further questions.
I usually ask my guests to submit their key points to me by email the week before the interview and this gives me a chance to incorporate into my own research.
I have always believed that a well prepared interview is good for me, my guest and the audience. I am not an investigative journalist and my aim is not to ambush my guests but make sure that they are as comfortable as possible about the process and that they are not sitting there waiting for some horrendous question from left field.
When my guests arrive I always have a brief chat beforehand and outline the topics I will be covering – theirs and my own so that even if there are some further additional items to be included they have a chance to prepare for them.
If the person who is your interviewer does not offer this, then do ask if you might spend a couple of minutes before you sit down to ensure that THEY have everything THEY need for the programme!
People buy People first, I will always do a brief introduction to my guest but will also ask some general, personal and informational questions to both put them at ease and to also build a connection with either the listeners or viewers. Be prepared by putting together a short bio at the beginning of your topics that you do not mind other people knowing – where you were born – being local or living in the area a long time can be important – what you do for a living – etc. I would then introduce the topic of the book – the title and a brief sentence about the contents.
Then into questions about you and your book.
Of course every book will have specific key questions and that is for you the author to identify and communicate before the interview. It also gives you an opportunity to prepare the answers. Not that it comes across well if you sound as though you are reading them off, but practice them in advance and you can always give yourself some key words written down that you want to make sure you include for each question.
You will have had my questions about your book as well and this should provide ample content for a well thought out and informative interview.
It is important not to just answer with monosyllabic responses… The aim is to use the allotted time to its best advantage, however short that might be. Answer the question as fully as possible and during your practice interview leading up to the interview you can edit your responses. This is why it is important to have asked for the proposed questions in advance. Try to get your answers down to around 100 words but as content rich as possible to ensure your key message which is to sell your book is accomplished. Your presenter will appreciate that very much.
The above paragraph is 100 words and would take around 30 seconds to speak.
If you only have a five minute interview and want to get 10 questions answered fully, it helps to be prepared.
It will also encourage you to not drop some common verbal punctuation into the conversation such as ‘um’ ‘you know’ etc. Which is another reason to record yourself on you phone and listen back to discover how often you use them. It is a sign of being unprepared and they waste valuable time.
Of course it is important to sound natural and don’t be afraid to respond to other questions that might naturally occur in response to something that you have said or the presenter has suddenly thought of. Which is why it is a good idea to also practice with someone else before the interview and to keep it conversational rather than too stilted.
It is important to remember, that if like me, you use the occasional swear word, that they don’t pop out unexpectedly.
Something to think about.
- Before going on the specific show listen to it several times to get a feel of the type of interview, length and also the presenter’s questioning style.
- Bring some index cards with your key points highlighted and any questions that you have practiced with.
- If given the choice of telephone interview or in the studio opt for the studio. The interview is likely to be longer and you will find you can be more relaxed and are more likely to make an impression on your presenter. Also in my experience it is harder for the presenter to ask you really tough questions when you are not at the end of the telephone and are looking them squarely in the eye.
- You would never send out an email or a manuscript without editing and spell checking (one hopes) and similarly you can rehearse and record your interview if you are really interested in hearing what you sound like in advance. Whilst there are no visual clues on the radio as to your personality, you will be surprised what a difference it makes to your delivery if you are smiling. Of course if you are talking about death and destruction a certain amount of solemnity is required but generally sounding upbeat and lively will win over the hearts and minds of your listeners.
- When in the studio do remember that sometimes the microphone may stay live. There will be a red light by the door which will confirm that one microphone is up at any given time and as you will be sitting close to the presenter you need to be careful of asides that might be inappropriate.
- Always ask where the best place to sit is in relation to the microphone, some are very sensitive and you need to remember this if you are going to emphasis a point by raising your voice.
- You will be asked to do a sound check if the microphone has not already been set. It is customary to do a quick introduction to yourself and keep talking until told to stop. I usually ask my guests what they had for dinner last night….
- The one letter of the alphabet that might catch you out is the “P” – it can pop. Practice any words that start with it.
- If you are nervous about all the people who might be listening, imagine that you and the presenter are friends having a conversation. That you have the opportunity to share your passion about your book with someone really interested in knowing more about it.
- Make sure that you give a point of contact, most presenters will ask you for a website or a place that people can contact you or ask for listeners to do so through the station. Give those on a card to the interviewer before you start and keep a copy for yourself.
- As an author you might consider giving a copy or even three as a prize – radio stations love freebies to give away. If in E-version then free downloads.
- If you are doing a telephone interview externally, make sure that you have turned off your own radio – use a landline and switch off your mobile phone. Have the number of the studio to hand in case you are cut off.
- Most stations and podcasts will put the interview online and you can ask for that link to be sent to you when it is uploaded. A very valuable addition to your marketing portfolio and should be networked through your blog and social media sites.
- Most important.. Where can the listeners buy your book, after all that is why you are here..
Next Saturday – an interview live on camera!
©Sally Cronin 2019.
You can find the other posts in the series in this directory: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-book-marketing-series-2019/
Thanks for dropping in and if you have any questions please don’t hesitate to ask… thanks Sally.