Interviews are a necessary component of an author’s success. We are interviewed for newspapers, magazines, blogs, podcasts, radio, and even live TV! Our success in this area can affect book sales and the opportunity to acquire more interviews. So, what does it take to increase the odds of a good interview?
Few of us have innate oratory talents. However, we still need to effectively communicate our message during an interview. Public speaking courses and organizations such as Toastmasters can improve our ability to properly convey ideas and concepts. A media specialist or trainer can also prepare an author for interviews. Poor grammar and mannerisms need to be eliminated long before making a public appearance. Halted speech, slow responses, and neurotic gestures will unnerve listeners and viewers, not to mention the host! We must be smooth, polished and professional before stepping into the limelight.
To acquire interviews, we need to master our pitch. The media seeks those who can solve the problems of their audience. A good story idea or ‘hook’ is essential. It basically comes down to solving the audience’s problems based on the knowledge gained from writing our book. However, just one story idea will not fit the requirements of every media outlet. We need to understand what each reporter or producer seeks. This information gives us an edge over those who send formula pitches to everyone in the media. Providing actual interview questions will make the reporter’s job much easier, too.
When contacted for a possible interview, we’ve got to be prepared! Keep a calendar and press kit handy for easy reference, and return all phone calls as soon as possible. Some reporters will simply visit our website, so all pertinent information must be in our pressroom. If asked to do a radio or TV interview, we’ve got to be flexible with our schedule. If we sound sharp, organized, and energetic, we stand a better chance of booking the interview.
Once we’ve set a date, a few key details must be taken care of before the interview. Make sure the interviewer has all the important information, facts, and any images or web addresses necessary. Review the interviewer’s personal and professional data. For in-person interviews, dress professional and sharp but not flashy. Remember that TV interviews will require the attachment of a microphone on our person. Be sure to bring a book or other required materials to the interview. Most important – show up on time! Nothing kills the opportunity for future interviews like arriving late or not at all.
During the interview, direct all comments and answers toward the host unless instructed otherwise. (A giant TV camera does not appear so daunting then!) Act as if it’s just a conversation between friends. The station or interviewer is on a schedule, so keep answers short and to the point. The purpose of the interview is to inform the audience, so refrain from excessive self-promotion. Phrases such as “Well, you’ll just have to read the book!” should be avoided completely as well. If the question is tough or cannot be directly answered, take a deep breath before replying. Most people in the media are friendly and simply trying to do their job, but try to avoid a confrontation with a feisty interviewer if at all possible. Winning the argument only means we lose out on future interviews!
Remember to thank the interviewer and send a thank you card as well. So many people forget this basic courtesy! Coupled with a good interview, a personalized thank you encourages the interviewer to consider us for future interviews.
In the world of promotions, interviews and features are vital. Make the most of every opportunity!