Tips on Author Interviews

Photo by Flickr/Rusty Sheriff

As promised, here is a quick list of tips for authors who are looking forward to their very own interviews!

-The first thing any author should do once they’ve gotten an interview slated is to prepare yourself with some research. I can’t stress this enough. You need to know something about your host and their audience if you want to fit in with the program. If it’s a radio show or a televised interview, listen to or watch an interview or two so that you know how things are likely to play out. You want to know if the interviewer is going to try and trip you up (some get a kick out of that sort of thing) or if you’re going to have the spotlight. If you were to go on ‘The Colbert Report’ for example, you’d want to prepare yourself to be interrupted every couple of words. It’s just how this kind of thing works. The host has the job of keeping his listeners/viewers entertained. Sure, they want the interview to go well, but you can’t expect them to change their personality just to keep you comfortable. If the host is generally combative during his show, make sure that you can handle that kind of thing in your own interview.

-The next thing you need to do, once you have some basic background info on the program, is relax. If you’re nervous, the audience will realize it, and this can hurt sales. Listeners/viewers want authors who are confident enough in their own books to be able to discuss them without freaking out.

-If you’re working with a small press, and would like to bring it some attention, you should bring a fact sheet with you so that you can get a blurb in if the opportunity presents itself. Things like the Press’s name, date of founding, and where they’re based can all be helpful.

-Arrive early. You never know how bad traffic will be, or what the parking situation is. For example, I arrived at my interview last week with 20 minutes to spare — which was good, considering the fact that the parking garage I was instructed to park in was full. I drove around another five minutes, found a little Chinese restaurant, parked in their back lot, and slipped the kid washing the dishes ten bucks not to tow my car. You need to allot for this kind of thing.

-Make sure you bring a copy of the book with you. Chances are, you’ll be asked to read a few poems/passages. You can preselect some pages you’d like to read from, but keep an open mind during the actual interview process. If the host expresses interest or adoration of a certain poem, for example, make sure to get that one out on the airwaves. Chances are, the host is trying to help you connect with his audience. He knows better than you do the kind of stuff that is likely to appeal to his listeners.

-During the interview, you want to make sure that you direct listeners back to your book. Give them a snippet of something that’ll make them want more. Remember, the interview is meant to bring attention to your book. Tell them where the book can be found (amazon, local bookstores, etc). If the price is a low one, draw attention to it — $10 for a book of poetry is a bargain. But if it’s an average price, just don’t mention it. You don’t want to turn the listeners off right from the beginning.

I know this isn’t an extensive list, but I hope it helps! Relax, have fun, and just be yourself, and any interview should go well! I’ll be posting a link to my interview with Faith Middleton on Friday once it becomes available.

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