Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Wordcraft – Eek! The interviewer hasn’t read my book!

Last Tuesday’s post was all about promoting our books in interviews with the media. Dr.Katherine “Kat” Smith, herself both an author and a media personality, prepared attendees at the spring workshop of the Writers’ Guild of Texas for the shock of actually selling our books. And although “selling” is nearly a dirty word to writers how, Smith asked, do we expect to ever be bestselling authors unless we sell?

While we prepare by following her tips for making contacts with audio and visual media discussed week, let’s take preparation a step further. Consider what happens when we actually find ourselves face to face (or phone to phone) with a TV, radio or Internet talk show host.

Smith started early by dispelling one of what she called “the most common misconception about media”: it doesn’t exist to provide free publicity for authors. What talk show hosts look for are entertaining and compelling stories for their audience. Oh, and a time-conscious story. Because while authors are talking, the host is keeping an eye on the clock, looking to the next commercial break, looking toward the next story on her schedule. And, believe it or not, she doesn’t have time to read the book!

Not to panic. After all, we don’t expect readers to have read our books before they grab them off the shelf. Instead, we make it easy for readers to take that step with our cannily-crafted book blurbs and endorsements (See March 1, 2016’s post “Cozy up to a mystery at Henery Press” for how-to’s). Let’s make it easy for our TV or radio or Internet hosts to buy into our books as well with canny press releases such as FAQs/readers guides included in the media kits on our site (see March 22, 2016’s Writers: prepare for our closeups!”). Or consider creating a press release of “Top 10” lists about our books. Or write an interview with yourself.

So now we’ve got our press releases ready to send out. Who do we send them to?

Smith advises against buying “cold call” lists of media hosts. They’re expensive, and who knows when they were last updated? We need to research media hosts ourselves to find those who talk about the things we love and write about.

Once we’ve made contact, we need to be sure to make ourselves reachable. Remember last Tuesday’s discussion of media kits? Always, always, provide contact information. And follow up, especially by returning phone calls. “I can’t believe how many people don’t return phone calls,” Smith said.

Once we're invited, in case it isn't obvious, we need to show up and be on time, dressed and groomed appropriately for the show and its audience. And speaking of grooming, there’s the issue of makeup, more delicate perhaps for the men than the women. High definition cameras are horrible, Smith warns, and studio lights are hot. Women should get their makeup done professionally beforehand. Men need to find a powder in their skin shade, “and if you have a mustache, remember to comb the powder out of it.” And don’t count on being offered a makeup room. Bring a small pocket mirror and check yourself before going on camera.

And because we'll want pictures or video to add to our media kits, we need to have access afterward to the interview footage. Ask for a copy, but just in case, set up a DVR or have a friend record it.

But what if, a workshop member asked, we freeze up on a question? What if we don’t understand the question? What if we don’t know the answer? Smith’s suggestions, “Can you rephrase that questions?” Or “I’m not sure about that, but I’ll tell you what. . . .” Or in case of embarrassment, “Oh, that made me blush, but my character. . . ”

And always, smile. Because on camera or not, a smile always shows!

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