PR Tips, Part 2: How to Prepare for an Interview

How to Prepare for an InterviewLast week we discussed five tips for landing an author interview. Once you’ve done the hard work of building your contact list, sending out press releases and building your author platform, it’s important to prepare yourself for the moment your efforts pay off and an interview opportunity presents itself. 

Here are five tips to make the most of your time in the spotlight: 

  • Reply promptly. When approached with the opportunity for an author interview, take it. Even if it’s with a small local newspaper or your neighbor’s video blog, take advantage of this chance to start building interview experience. Check your email and voicemails regularly, and respond to any opportunities promptly and with great professionalism and eagerness. If you keep a journalist waiting, your story could become less timely and he or she might lose interest.
  • Keep your commitments. Never schedule an appointment for a media interview that you’re not prepared to keep. Whether it’s an introductory meeting, a deadline for sending materials or a final in-studio interview, it’s essential to be on time (early) for any appointment or deadline. Keeping up your end of the deal and staying on schedule should help you feel more relaxed and in control. Plus, by making a good impression and being easy to work with, you can build a positive reputation among journalists who might remember you for future stories.
  • Know your medium. Your preparation will be different depending on whether you’re interview is on television, in print, on the radio, etc. If you’ll be appearing on television, in an online video or in any other visual medium, be sure to dress professionally and to have a physical copy of your book with you; this will help viewers connect your message to something tangible and memorable. If you’re being interviewed over the phone or via Skype, don’t forget to prepare a private, quiet space for yourself to talk; a busy office, barking dog or playing toddler can add background noise and distractions that could prevent your interview from going smoothly. If being interviewed for a written piece, be sure to offer good, relevant images according to your interviewer’s specifications and to provide all materials in a timely fashion.
  • Know your message. Even though you know your book like the back of your hand, it’s a good idea to re-familiarize yourself with the main points you’d like to get across. Prepare a short “elevator pitch” you can use to summarize your book quickly. Be ready to discuss your personal expertise, the reasons you wrote the book and, most importantly, what readers will be able to learn from what you’ve written.
  • Provide a takeaway. At the end of your interview, it’s important that you give readers/viewers/listeners something to do with the information you’ve provided them. Make sure you let them know where to buy your book and how to connect with you online. If you can, offer a sample chapter download or host a giveaway contest on Goodreads around the time your interview is released.  Providing a unique incentive for your audience to follow up with you can go a long way toward building your following and generating book sales.

With what blog, newspaper, radio show, etc. would you most like to have an author interview? What steps are you taking to make it happen?

2 Responses to “PR Tips, Part 2: How to Prepare for an Interview”

  1. I find this helpful as I am a first time self-published author and
    already, the people I share excerpts of my book with usually buy a copy on the spot or place an order on Amazon or WestBow Press. They are intrigued by the title, “A Fine Piece of Chocolate: Righteous Sistas Crossing Over to the Wild Side.” My brand revolves around chocolate. I would like the front cover of my book to be my brand, or perhaps a broken heart the color of chocolate.

  2. Kim,
    Thank you for your advice about interviews. I have a radio interview on June 11 and a book signing June 15. These are both in my home town of Burlington, Iowa. I had a terrific interview for a local newspaper this month and everything you said in your article is true. Because I was prepared and had my book and ideas prepared, the article was most of the first page and one-fourth on the second. Thank you for your encouraging words.

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