A couple of weeks ago, I posted here about my great fortune to score an ongoing talk radio gig on WRNR Radio/TV 10 in Martinsburg, West Virginia. It’s strictly a talk format, with Rob Mario as host, and then two co-hosts, of which I am one a couple of times per week.
It’s interesting sitting on the other side of an interview. Having done more than a few of them over the years as the interviewee, being the interviewer has changed my perspective a bit. In recent weeks, we’ve interviewed a few authors. I thought I’d share some lessons I’ve learned that you might find helpful if you find yourself in the position to promote your book–or to promote anything for that matter.
Know ahead of time what the format will be.
On our show on Eastern Panhandle Talk Radio, all interviews are 22-25 minutes long, free from commercial interruption. That’s unusual in my experience for broadcast radio and television. Normally, the broadcast format runs 7-10 minutes, which requires an entirely different approach.
In shorter interviews, be prepared to deliver the vaunted elevator pitch, where you get right down the details of the book. There likely won’t be a lot of give-and take between you and the host. If there is, that’s great. Just don’t anticipate it.
Longer interviews, on the other hand, are much more conversational. If you launch right into the elevator pitch and stay with it, there won’t be much interaction with the hosts, and you run the risk of leaving little to talk about during the rest of the spot.
Anticipate the common questions and have stories to tell.
You know the low-hanging fruit: Where did the idea come from? What kind of research did you do? Which of your books is your favorite? What authors do you read? Tell us about the story.
The best interviews are with people who tell the stories behind the stories. Keep it light-hearted and entertaining. If you can make your book resonate with current events or current times, that’s always a good thing.
Another trait of great interviews is that they are conversational. Try to forget that YOU’RE ON THE RADIO!!! and concentrate more on having a casual conversation with the person across from you in the studio or on the other end of the phone call.
There’s a good chance that “radio” means TV, too.
In these days of video streaming, many (most?) radios stations also have a live feed to Facebook or other social media sites. Plan accordingly to avoid that awkward jammies and bed-head television exposure.
Send promotional materials ahead of time.
Remember that your interview is but one tiny slot inserted into a busy broadcast. People will not have had time to read your book, certainly on short notice. Be sure to send along a synopsis of the story, along with a short bio.
Suggested questions are always welcome because they give the interviewer a clue about what topics you are most prepared to cover.
In your promotional materials, be sure to include a headshot of you and the cover of your book. If there is a TV/Facebook live element, this is essential. One of the most recent interviews sent along a single image that is a combined cover and author photo. I’m going to steal that idea.
Avoid qualitative assessments of your own work.
This might just be my own bugaboo, but I find it vastly unprofessional for an author to tell the world how funny, inspirational or exciting his own work is. Just as on the page, show, don’t tell. Let your enthusiasm for the project sell the book for you.
Mention the title. A Lot.
In a standard interview, you’ll be introduced as the author of [Your Book Title], and then again as such at the end of the interview. Remember that every time you refer to your baby as “my book” or “it” you’re missing an opportunity to burn the title into listeners’ and viewers’ brains.
Always close with your contact and social media information.
Rudeness is never okay, but don’t be afraid to be a little aggressive, especially at the end of an interview. Consider:
” . . . Thanks for coming on the show, John.”
“Real quick, please visit my website, John Gilstrap dot com for anything you want to know about me or my books.”
You’re on the show to market a book, so don’t be shy about marketing your book.
What say you, TKZ family? Have I missed anything?