Tuesday, August 7, 2007

An unprepared author can’t fake a good on-air interview

The host will be able to see through the façade in a matter of seconds. The audience can't help but catch on after a few minutes. The truth of the matter is this: if you’re fumbling, mumbling and stumbling through your interviews, you will limit your credibility as an author and may throw out your future chances to land larger (possibly national) interview opportunities.

While some lucky authors get a chance to “warm up” with smaller market interviews before stepping up to the national programs, there’s no excuse for being unprepared for any type of interview. Media often breeds more media, assuming that your interviews have gone well. The flipside is true when interviews don't go well. Producers and program directors often do research on a guest before booking them on the show, and they might dig up the dirt on past interviews. Word travels fast among members of the media. Moreover, most television producers will request that an author’s publicist send them footage from a previous interview just to get a feel for how an author “performs” on the air.

In addition, you never know when, where or with who your first interview might be. For instance, if you wrote a book on bridge safety you might have conducted your first interview with Kyra Phillips after the terrible bridge collapse in Minnesota last week.

Trust us; we don’t want to hear after-interview feedback from our media contacts about guests that stand out more for their incompetence than for their media savvy. But sometimes an unprepared author slips through the cracks. The horror stories we have heard from media contacts range from inappropriate attire (Who would show up to a TV interview wearing jeans and a T-shirt?) to language barriers (It’s always a good idea to speak the same language as your interviewer.) to a fairly common complaint about authors – their answers were simply long-winded book summaries. Remember, chances are that you didn’t land that on-air opportunity to spend 15 minutes summing up your book and telling the audience where they can buy it.

When we pitch a guest or interview opportunity with an author to one of our media contacts, we are going to be judged as a firm by how well that author does on the air. For that reason, we encourage every author we work with (that doesn’t have prominent media experience) to go through our in-house media training program before we put them on air. During media training, we prepare each author to perform their very best in an interview – whether with small market or national media. With special workshops covering print, radio, online and television opportunities, our media training program helps authors develop their message, cater to diverse demographics, speak in sound bytes, lead an interview and, perhaps most importantly, promote their book without sounding like a sales pitch.

For a great example of a prepared author, check out Constitution Translated for Kids author Cathy Travis in an excellent on-air interview with Fox & Friends.

For those who want to go through an abbreviated version of media training, mark your calendars for P&P’s Writers’ League of Texas workshop on November 10, 2007 from 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm. During the workshop, we will lend our media expertise to help authors prepare to go on-air! For more information, visit the Writers’ League of Texas events page here. See more details below:

Media Training: The scoop on getting quoted, going on the air and effectively promoting your book

Workshop Summary: Getting on the air is hard enough, but what do you do once you have landed a radio, television or print interview? How do you make the most out of each opportunity? Can you plug your book without sounding like a salesperson? Join guest literary PR pros from Austin's own Phenix & Phenix Literary Publicists as they teach the ins and outs of promoting your book in the media. During their information-packed workshop, they will share everything you need to know about working with media across every format. The workshop will include breakout sessions for print, radio and television opportunities and will feature interview practice and sound byte development.

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Blogger Sarah said...

True that! I can't wait for the November workshop!

August 7, 2007 at 3:33 PM  
Blogger Libba said...

Hey Katie & Rusty! I'm shopping for a publisher right now, and eventually a publicist. What do you guys think about POD? I've heard it can be difficult to publicize outside of online outlets, but it's really the only publishing option available to me right now. Can you recommend a POD service, too? Thanks. Please answer when you can. --Libba

August 8, 2007 at 9:34 PM  
Blogger Rusty Shelton - Managing Director said...

Hi, Libba - thanks for your question! Though publicity can be a good investment for some POD authors--depending on their goals--there are a couple reasons why we typically shy away from POD books as a publicity firm. First of all, they can be difficult to promote to traditional reviewers (trade publications, newspapers, magazines, etc.), the vast majority of which won't write a review for a POD book (you do have to focus on online reviews). Secondly, it is hard for an author to justify a major PR expense when their book has limited distribution, again unless there are goals other than (or in addition to) sales.

My advice is to find a publisher that can offer solid distribution before you hire a publicist. If you do end up going POD, focus on promoting the book to your niche via online and local/regional PR opportunities and don't spend a ton of money along the way.

We do offer a free media analysis to authors interested in learning more about the PR potential of their book, so down the road feel free to submit a copy to us.

August 10, 2007 at 8:16 AM  

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