Tuesday, March 17, 2009
Somethin' to talk about
Guess what, fellow writers? Those words only truly mean "the end" for those who are reading your book.
For writers, it means stepping into something new. This is a post for the writers who believe they will see "the end" turn into the beginning of a writing career.
If you're getting published and embarking on a new writing career, one of the "new" things you will need to know how to do is give a good interview.
I've been in print media for more than 10 years. Many of those years were spent as an entertainment editor, interviewing well-known public figures. (Everyone from Weird Al Yankovic to Joe Eszterhas to Poison and Third Day.)
I've learned a couple of things that may help folks on the giving end of the interview.
Just as the reporter needs to prepare for the interview, you need to go into the interview prepared, too.
Jot down a few notes beforehand. This will help you keep your thoughts focused and might keep you from sounding like a rambling idiot or giving one-word answers.
Practice doing interviews with a friend. Have your friend come up with a list of surprise questions. Record the conversation and when you play it back, pay close attention to your words. Are you speaking in complete sentences? Are you finishing your thoughts? Are you constantly interrupting yourself?
You might be surprised. I've met brilliant writers who can't give a coherent oral answer to save their neck.
A reporter might spring a few unexpected questions on you, but you can always rehearse the answers to questions that should be obvious: The ones regarding your characters, your book and what inspired you to write.
Have a good story to tell about YOU. Not only are you promoting your book, but you're establishing yourself as a writer and building a fan base. The way to do that is to build a personal connection with prospective fans. Make yourself human. Make yourself real. Tell them about YOU.
Be aware of the energy you're conveying during an interview. If you're excited about a project, chances are the reporter might get excited and become more eager about sharing your story and helping you create a buzz about your project.
(This might also come as a shock but just because you are being interviewed does not mean the person interviewing you is a fan. He or she may have received the interview assignment from the powers that be and are only talking to you to fulfill their job requirements.)
If doing a phone interview, use a land line whenever possible. Why? Reporters take every word you say as you say it. Cell phones -- although they are a handy-dandy device -- cut out often and do not always have the best sound quality. (Also find out beforehand whether the interview will be exclusively for a print story or if the reporter will be creating a podcast from it.)
And never, ever for the love of heaven and your own person, NEVER ask a reporter to read the story before it goes to print. This will be especially tempting if speaking with a reporter from your local newspaper.
Honestly, there is no bigger insult to a journalist; you wouldn't like it if they asked to double-check your work before you submitted it to your boss. Would you?
I didn't think so.