Is Letterman turning over a new leaf?
YouTube has a great clip of short story writer and essayist George Saunders appearing as a guest on the Late Show with David Letterman. After watching the interview, there are just a few things I wanted to point out:
• Author appearances are a rarity in the world of late night TV.
Unless TMZ.com considered you a celebrity before you wrote your book, don’t count on sitting on Jay Leno’s couch the week after it releases. Though Leno, Conan, Letterman and the like limit their time to celebrities, politicians and other famous guests, every once in a while authors like Saunders are able to land such a highly-coveted spot.
• Saunders’ success wasn’t immediate.
During the interview, Saunders jokes that he did a “downward career spiral” before his writing career took flight. He started off as a geophysicist before becoming a convenience store clerk, and even worked at a slaughterhouse before earning a master’s degree in creative writing from Syracuse. Rome wasn’t built in a day and generally a career as an author isn’t either. Anyone in the literary industry will tell you that momentum for a book builds slowly. Patience is definitely a virtue, but if you believe your book has the potential to connect with people, it’s worth the wait.
• The author used humorous anecdotes during the interview and never once specifically talked about his book.
Saunders was able to get the audience interested in his own life, and made them laugh. Once he established a likeable personality and displayed his great sense of humor, it’s easy to see why people would want to rush out to by his latest book, The Braindead Megaphone, a collection of humorous essays/short stories. While you don’t have to be a comedian in an interview, it’s important to establish an approachable, likeable persona with the audience.