As writers, we often limit our thinking of press coverage to what we read – newspapers, magazines, online reviews. But broadcast mediums such as radio interviews also are an excellent way to promote your book.
While radio may not have a large audience compared to print or online mediums, it does have a very targeted audience: You can bet that the people most interested in your book or topic of discussion will be the ones who tune in to the radio broadcast. In addition, most radio stations today offer podcasts of interviews they’ve conducted, allowing anyone searching for a topic related to your book to stumble upon it during an Internet search.
Given that you can’t “edit” your live radio interview and that it likely will be available to listeners for many years to come, you’ll want to take this effort seriously.
Begin by researching the program and the interviewer. If their reputation is flaky, you may not want to do the interview. If you decide to go ahead, then learn about the format and structure of the program, such as how much of it is interview questions and how much of it is a call-in show. Knowing the program’s length also will be useful.
Learning the logistics of the interview is beneficial as well. For example, will the interview be live? Will it be done at a studio or via phone? If it’s live, be sure to arrive a half-hour early at the studios so that you’re not rushed (which could make you nervous or out of breath) when going on the air. In addition, bring an extra copy of your author’s bio and of the book for the interviewer.
Most radio interview hosts will give you the interview questions in advance; if they aren’t offered, ask for them. You also may want to suggest some ideas to the radio interviewer, describing your expertise. Most interviewers and producers will be appreciative of this. Once you know the questions, prepare and practice some answers ahead of time. While you don’t want to read answers from a sheet, you also don’t want to be caught off guard.
When devising your answers, keep them to about 20 seconds. Anything longer often will sound monotonous to listeners. In addition, use personal stories, specific examples, and analogies to illustrate points you’re making. That will go far in keeping listeners’ attention.
Never say anything you might regret – even if you’re not on the air. You never know what might accidentally go over the air or be recorded and then edited into a broadcast or recording. In addition, never offer anything that is “off the record” or “just between you and me.” In the journalism world, almost nothing is “off the record.”
Other ways to keep yourself out of trouble include: don’t cite statistics that you’re unsure of; don’t speak in jargon; don’t be defensive or argumentative; don’t speak for someone who’s not there; don’t say “no comment.”
If doing an interview in a radio studio, be sure to sit upright and comfortable. Check with the interviewer in advance about how far you should speak from the microphone. Also, see how the interviewer wants to be addressed (usually it’s by first name). Finally, just be yourself; you’ll be most relaxed when you act naturally.
My name is Rob Bignell. I’m an affordable, professional editor who runs Inventing Reality Editing Service, which meets the manuscript needs of writers both new and published. I also offer a variety of self-publishing services. During the past decade, I’ve helped more than 300 novelists and nonfiction authors obtain their publishing dreams at reasonable prices. I’m also the author of the 7 Minutes a Day… writing guidebooks, four nonfiction hiking guidebook series, and the literary novel Windmill. Several of my short stories in the literary and science fiction genres also have been published.