- What: Here are steps to take to prepare for a great interview. This tip sheet is focused on radio and television interviews, but the principles can apply to any interview you give.
- Why: An interview is a great opportunity for book sales and exposure—but only if you can give a compelling one. A poor or boring interview can dissuade potential book buyers. To make the most of the opportunity, you need to prepare yourself as best as possible.
- How: Here are some tips to help you prepare for any interview:
Consider each interview as a part of your mission to get the message of your book out into the world.
Be ready for anything: an interviewer that hasn’t read your book, a hostile host or one with a different agenda than you or your book. Acknowledge the off-topic question, provide the shortest possible answer and then steer the person back to the issues you want to address.
Create a list of interview questions that can be sent with the book to an interviewer or producer, so that you can steer the interview in the direction you want.
Prepare short, pithy answers (talking points and sound bites) to these questions with examples from the book and statistics to back up your arguments if appropriate. (Hint: Consider ideas in your book that may be counterintuitive or go against the grain of popular understanding of the topic.) Be ready to approach these answers from many different angles based on how the interview goes.
Be prepared to state the “big idea” of your book in one sentence.
Make sure you connect the content of the interview back to the book. You can use the phrase “In the book I talk about this in more detail” or “While I was writing my book I learned…and I include that research in chapter…of my book.”
Think about any angle that is different, fresh, and unique, and relate new concepts from your book that distinguish it from others’ work and your previous work.
Be aware of what is going on in the news and know how current events relate to your book. View an interview as an opportunity not only to state your opinion, but also to tie current events to the content of the book. If you are doing a lot of interviews, this continual re-contextualizing of your book can keep these interviews interesting both for listeners and for you.
Listen or watch the program you are going to be interviewed on to help you know what to expect. Research the focus of the show, the background of the host, and the audience for the show.
Entertain! You are the star in an interview and need to shine. Be upbeat and enthusiastic, and let your passion for your ideas come through.
If you are on a regional program and have an upcoming public book signing or event in that region, be sure to tell the producer and the host before the interview and ask them to mention it on the air.
Since many stations have Web sites where they will be willing to post your flyer or handout on an upcoming event or your book, check with the producer to see if the person would be willing to do so.
If you can, offer the show free books to use as listener giveaways.
Always bring a copy of your book to every interview. You never know if the interviewer will want to take a look at it or will be willing to hold it up or do a screen shot of it on a television program.
Review Amazon.com customer reviews and any other reviews of your book to find out what the points of criticism are and be prepared to respond to them. You may notice a pattern as far as which areas of your work people are particularly interested in. You should make a point to cover those.
Once you have done a few media interviews, analyze what has worked well. Where were you feeling good? What content worked well? Do you overuse certain words or phrases? Do you preface each answer with “um”? Make notes of bad habits and conduct practice interviews with loved ones, colleagues, or friends to help correct those. You can review the transcripts of previous interviews to see what types of questions were asked. Then, do further preparation to fine-tune your interviewing skills.
Doing this kind of preparation on your own doesn’t cost anything, but if you are going to do a lot of interviews, it is wise to hire a media coach to help you. We recommend the following coaches: