In a previous post I outlined a process for contacting each local radio, TV, newspaper, magazine, and online media outlet to pitch story ideas and appearances (interviews, debates, demonstrations, etc.). As your booking efforts begin to bear fruit, it is important to be prepared to maximize the positive impact from your appearances.
Over the years here at Thomas Nelson, we have seen that the authors that experience the most success in driving book sales and creating a positive impression on the host and the audience tend to use the same tactics. We provide author training for many of our new authors, and you book can benefit if you use some of those same tactics.
- Prepare five talking points that you have customized for the show depending on the angle you have pitched and discussed with the producer. Write them down on index cards to review ahead of time and even use to prompt yourself if on radio. Create a soundbite for each talking point—a short phrase that captures the essence of what you want to say and is easy for your audience to grasp and remember. Time is money for media companies and long answers also make it difficult for listeners to follow along so keep your answers short—especially if the segment is short.
- Arrive at least a half hour early for the interview. Wear dark or bright solid colors. Avoid patterns and anything white as it washes out facial color. If you will be appearing on television then find out if the studio will be doing makeup, and if not then make arrangements for at least some light powder.
- Don’t ever cancel an interview. Doing so will ruin your credibility. Make sure the producer has your home and cell numbers. Often, a segment is moved or changed after hours and the producer may need to contact you at any hour. You can be canceled at any moment, even if you’re at the studio. Breaking news doesn’t wait because you are ready to talk about your book.
- Visit the show’s web site to listen to the show you are going to be on to understand the personality and theme so you know what to expect. Listen to interviews with other authors to learn how they promote their book without being overbearing.
- Focus on your goals which are to sell books and to be such an interesting interview that the host and producer want to book you again. Focus on giving your best answer to whatever question is asked rather than worrying about what the questions might be. If you don’t understand a question then ask for clarification rather than assuming you know what they are asking. Make the interview more personal by addressing the host by their first name. Compliment the host when they ask a good question by saying “That’s a good question” or “I’m glad you asked that question.”
- Never criticize the host for not reading the book or even ask if they have done so. Hosts do not have time to read every book and many will stick to the questions you provide in your Press Kit. Never interrupt the host or become hostile, even if attacked. If you are on radio then you are “invisible” and can be cut off at any time. A planned seven minute segment can become a two minute segment in the blink of an eye if the guest missteps! Don’t try to slant or change the original segment idea to fit the title of the book. Stay on topic.
- Never try to force people to buy your book by refusing to share important information and saying “It’s in my book.” Bring up information from your book once every 3-5 minutes when it directly relates to what is being discussed. Begin with something along the lines of “As I point out in my book…” Avoid being overly promotional since this marks you as an amateur. Use the art of the “soft sell” by taking advantage of the opportunities to plug your book that come to you naturally within the flow and context of an interview. Many hosts will gladly plug your book before, during, and at the conclusion of an interview so you may not even need to call attention to your book. Keep an eye on the clock so you know when the segment ends and can leave enough your host enough time to mention your web site and where your book is available.
- Sit up straight even in radio interviews so that your voice projects properly and creates a “confident” voice that minimizes mumbling. If doing a phone interview then use an old fashioned landline and avoid using a cordless phone, cell phone, or headset which can cause static and other problems. Practice doing a mock interview over the phone with a friend or media coach. Many speakers have a tendency to allow the volume of their voice to trail off at the end so be intentional about keeping your voice consistent and strong.
- Be likable. If the listening audience likes you and thinks you care about them then they will buy what you’re selling. Answer questions with knowledge and compassion. Be prepared for conflict. It may not happen, but controversy is popular. Be confident, smile, enjoy yourself, and be thankful for the opportunity!
Have you had a “15 minutes of fame” experience? If so, what did you do to maximize the opportunity?