Like most authors, I’m somewhat of an introvert. I don’t mind talking in front of people, but I don’t crave it and I often need a place to relax and recharge after. One thing I know I can do lots more of is talk about my books and the writing process on a more one-on-one mode. I think most authors do: How and why we write; what made us write that particular one; why it’s important; how it can help others.
Radio offers a much less intrusive and intimate way to reach out to the public. Talk shows, podcasts and online radio shows are popular among the mobile public who are often looking for an easy way to entertain as they travel. I’ve done many radio interviews and have found them very rewarding and successful in getting publicity for my books.
RadioGuestList.com (on BookMarketingTools.com) gives sound advice on how to get booked on talk shows to promote your book: “Radio DJ’s, talk show hosts, and podcast producers need to fill their air time.” They say. “If you can offer them credible, interesting discussion that keeps their audience tuned-in, you can likely get on the air to tell their audience about your book(s).”
RadioGuestList.com provides tips to help get you on the air about your book and I’ve provided several of them here:
- find shows interested in topics covered in your book: use Google, Twitter or BlogTalkRadio.com.
- choose an angle: offer story, topic and “how to” discussion topics. If you can “newsjack” onto a current trend or issue, even better!
- Write a short pitch that focuses on how the show’s audience can benefit from your interview. Offer to promote the show on your social media, which is a win-win for you and the station.
- Include vital contact information so they can find you easily. These can include email, phone number, Skype handle, bio and website.
- Provide potential focal points to discuss; you can even suggest questions, which all make the interview potentially easier to run.
- Offer and provide cover art, headshot, bio and related media that the show can use to promote your appearance. Include your social media accounts and website, etc. so they can add them. Let them know how you will promote the show too.
I’ve done several types of radio/podcast interview and they fall into three general camps: 1) those where I knew what the questions were going to be in advance; 2) those where I may have had an idea of topics to cover, and 3) those where I had no idea what we were going to talk about—except that it would involve my book in some way. In my opinion, the interviews that worked out the best were those in the last category.
The reason is that these interviews tended to be hosted by experienced and confident radio hosts and the interview was allowed to proceed organically, flowing like a real conversation—which made it more fun for me, the host and for the listening audience. These interviews often generated spontaneous laughter and travelled into surprising and crazy good places. I found that my voice relaxed as I just let the conversation flow and gave my confidence to the host—something the audience can also sense. A good interview is a little like doing a slow dance with a partner who is a good lead. Let your host lead and enjoy where it takes you. This doesn’t mean that you can’t nudge the topic into surprising new directions. That’s also part of the fun. They lead, you follow through, they pick up from that and so on.
Here are some tips for creating a great listening experience:
- Know your material; do the diligence of researching topics you may wish to discuss and have material with you if you feel comfortable consulting it (the material would need to be very accessible and you shouldn’t read long tracts of anything).
- Relax and enjoy the interview. Let the process flow naturally. It may take a turn you didn’t anticipate; just go with it. Let it be a conversation between host and guest; giving, receiving, learning, teaching.
- Don’t monopolize the discussion. The host often has something very interesting to add, which will journey into something interesting for the listeners. Give the host space to do that. Then bring in interesting answers.
- Be gracious and thank the host at the end. Let them—and your audience know—how much you enjoyed the experience.
RadioGuestList also wisely suggests that you (or your publicist) follow through with a quick email to thank the show’s producer and/or host. It’s also good to let them know how you will promote your interview and/or inform them when you do.
If the show went well you may wish to let them know that you’d love to do a repeat appearance. I have done that with several of my interview appearances with wonderful return visits.
For those of you conducting interviews—either for your book or an article you’re writing—I go over some dos and don’ts in Chapter I: Interviews & Other Weird Interactions of my fiction writing guide “The Fiction Writer: Get Published, Write Now!” They involve the four pillars of good journalism: thoroughness, accuracy, fairness, and transparency. Understanding what makes a good interviewer can help make you a better interviewee.
Nina Munteanu is an ecologist and internationally published author of award-nominated speculative novels, short stories and non-fiction. She is co-editor of Europa SF and currently teaches writing courses at George Brown College and the University of Toronto. Visit www.ninamunteanu.ca for the latest on her books.