Which of course is a win-win situation for both the interviewer or journalist and the writer. The interview can help promote and publicize an author and their work, especially if they’re about to publish a new book or are looking to keep readers’ interest in their backlist titles.
But what if you’ve never been interviewed before? What if receiving that email or phone call asking if you’d like to be interviewed is a cause for dread and despair?
It need not be so bad. With a little preparation, a writer can anticipate the sticking points and navigate their way through the interview.
There are basically 3 types of interviews:
1. News interview
These types of author interviews normally last between 3 to 6 minutes. Think of it as a business transaction – you get free publicity and the TV or radio channel gets great content – your story!
These types of author interviews can be disconcerting at first, but with practice you can learn to roll with the punches and deliver a few yourself, if that’s your style. If it isn’t, these kinds of hand-to-hand combat interviews are probably best left alone. It can get out of control quite quickly, so if you ever do find yourself in an interview that’s too pacey and punchy, the best thing to do is to try and regain control of the conversation by slowing it down with anecdotes and stories.
3. Author interview
These types of author interviews are like mini-documentaries. They can last up to 30 minutes, even longer. The interviewer is more interested in the person behind the books, the personality of the writer and the life events that shaped the writer to become who they are today. So put on your Sunday bests and tell your greatest ever story – you!
What can you expect to be asked? Unless you ask the journalist or interviewer for the list of questions they’ll be asking, you probably won’t know what they want to know. Nonetheless, there’s probably 5 questions you can expect to be asked in an author interview:
- What is your book or novel about?
- Why did you write this book?
- What is your own personal writing process?
- What can your readers expect next?
- What do you think of [insert latest scandal to hit the headlines]?
With these questions in mind, you can prepare your marketing messages that you want your audience to hear. Here are some points to make sure you cover and do your homework on before you talk or shake hands with your interviewer:
- Write down 5-7 themes of your book or novel – these are the messages you want to get across to your readers
- Write down 3 favourite quotes that pertain to the messages in your book
- Write down 3 statistics or facts that back up or support the messages in your book
- Write your 3-sentence biography and memorise it
- Have a call to action that you want your readers to take (e.g. buy the book, visit your website, come to your workshop etc.)
Lastly, always follow up your interviewer with a thank you note or call (better) when the interview has aired or been published. It’s also a good idea to offer to give them a copy of your next book when it’s published. You never know, it could lead to another author interview.
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