By Brian Feinblum
When an author does an interview with the news media, he or she, of course, wants to make a great impression. It’s the writer’s time to shine in the spotlight and use the opportunity to increase book sales, establish branding, share a positive message, and connect with potential readers. So how does one take advantage of the situation to execute a strong interview?
Here are the nine things an author must do well in every single interview:
- The whole point of the interview is to get people to react and initiate an action step. You may hope they order a book, visit your website, click on a social media link, attend an event, or do something else. Whatever it is, be sure to mention what you want people to do. However, never sound like a commercial or make a direct plea for people to purchase your book. Dance around it by mentioning the book, your site, or upcoming event – but do not blatantly say one should buy your book.
- To persuade others to buy or do something, you must convince them to like you. Come across as one of them and as being concerned about their needs and desires. Smile. Laugh. Be friendly, polite, and good-natured. Your personality and demeanor will influence one’s buying decision.
- This may seem obvious, but be sure to mention your book title several times throughout the interview. Avoid general references about why you wrote the “book” and what’s in the ‘book.’ Simply say, “The reason I wrote (state title) is because…” “In (state title), I show that…” People will need to hear the book title so they can recall it later.
- Your energy needs to be high for the interviews. Speaking softly, sitting slumped over, or not appearing excited will give off a negative vibe. Suck down come caffeine, get rest, or workout and boost your system so that you appear lively.
- People buy into who you are as much as they buy into your book. Sell them on your accomplishments, unique stories, and special experiences. Name-drop, where appropriate. Let them know what makes you qualified to write your book — years of experience, special training or schooling, unique accomplishments — But don’t sound like you are rattling off a resume. Spread out your answers. In one question’s response, you can preface your answer by saying, “In my 20 years of working with veterans, I…” In another answer say, “Having treated hundreds of veterans, I…” In another answer, start with “I’ve helped some veterans overcome severe cases of PTSD, and…”
- Your appearance is important — whether you conduct an interview on television, in person, by phone, or Skype. Even when people can’t see you, you’ll feel more powerful, confident, and secure when you dress up and look your best.
- You must, must mention your website in every interview. It’s your starting point if anyone wants to buy a book, contact you, learn more about your book, or locate your social media pages. Say your site when offering something. “I blog regularly about the challenges of veterans at www.___” or offer something free (downloadable chapter) or of value (related resources, documents, photos). If you welcome people to participate in a survey or interactive campaign say so. Whatever it takes, mention that site.
- The language and words that we employ to win others over is very important. We need to avoid cursing and to call upon proper grammar – no slang no ebonics or Spanglish, and definitely no inappropriate references to race, religion, sexuality, or politics (unless it’s relevant to your book). We want to speak in a way that the listeners – readers – audience would understand and relate to. Let’s not use smarty words if no one will understand them but let’s also not speak in monosyllabic second-grader words. Target your lingo to the people you seek to impress.
- Use facts, statistics, and reference things in the news to sound current, relevant, and timely as you get your main points across. Think ahead as to the 4-5 key points you want to make in every interview, regardless of the questions asked of you.
Here is a good media training video for authors: http://bookmarketingbuzzblog.blogspot.com/2017/10/exclusive-author-media-training-video.html
Chris Hayden been working at City Book Review since 2012, so that makes him the keeper of knowledge. He manages the office and book reviewers (all 200 of them!), which is no small feat. If you’re looking at the book reviews here, you’re seeing them because he sent the books out for review. Without him, this place would fall apart, because no one else in the office knows how to use the postage machine. Two words: job security.