Last night I had the pleasure of being interviewed by Magdalena Ball from Australia on her Compulsive Reader Talks 2 radio show.
Maggie is a talented writer, incredible literary figure with exceptional presence in the industry, owner of CompulsiveReader.com, and a super lady with whom to chat. This was my second visit to her program, and probably my 12th show since I started back in 2007.
How hard is it? Should you be nervous? Should you avoid the whole thing?
Face it, everyone's scared at first, unless they've had a ton of experience speaking in front of an audience. But getting live on a show (especially if it has a podcast you can link to later!) is wonderful for book promotion, or any kind of promotion for any product you'd like to share.
I have to admit, last night I didn't do my usual OCD preparation. I was at work all day, got home about an hour before the show, ate dinner, and headed upstairs about twenty minutes beforehand. This casual approach was probably because I know Maggie and realize she's not going to embarrass a guest with off-the-wall questions, and... I've done radio shows quite a bit now. All the prep that came beforehand, stays with you. And there's a point in time when you can truly just accept the call and start chatting.
But in the beginning, here are some tips to help make you comfortable.
1) Practice reading selections from your book in advance. I mean REALLY practice. It might take ten or twenty times until you don't stumble over the words, until you "feel" the emotions of your characters coming through your lips, or until you can paint the scene EXACTLY as you heard it in your head when you first wrote it.
2) Time your readings, and tell your host up front what you have available. ("I'd be happy to read from the book if you want. Chapter 1 is 4 minutes; Chapters 1&2 are seven minutes." etc. Give them the option of including your reading into their program.
3) Ask the interviewer for sample questions. Odds are, they might ask you for a list of questions and your answers in advance to help them get percolating with new ideas or topics.
4) Prepare answers for each of the questions fully. Write them down. Memorize the gist of what you wrote. And PRACTICE saying it out loud, in the car, in your home office, wherever you happen to be. Do this until the words automatically come out of your mouth. Then - work on it so it doesn't sound stilted or unnatural. After all, you still want to be YOU. You just need to be a PREPARED you!
5) Have everything you need handy. Last night I thought I was ready.
- I had my copy of FireSong ready to go for the reading, opened to chapter six.
- My reading glasses were handy and cleaned in advance.
- The light was good. I checked it and practiced reading a few times
- I turned on the fan and moved it to the far side of the room so I wouldn't cook with all the windows closed (to keep out traffic or dog barking sounds) but not close enough to make a whirring noise in the background.
- I had my laptop opened with its sound muted to a synopsis of FireSong and all of my other books in case she asked me, "What's that one about?"
- I had a bottle of water nearby, but not close enough to spill on my laptop. ;o)
- Tissues. Just in case I sobbed like a baby when I read the sad part. (just kidding!)
- Cell phone for back up, in case the phone lines didn't work, with the sound muted.
I send her an email, telling her I was there. She responded, "Can't get through!" And so on.
So, after a little bit of frustration, we lost our slot on blogtalk radio, but Maggie figured out how to record our conversation using Skype, and loaded it up to a new podcast site later in the evening. Brilliant woman. But anyway, I digress...
I also almost panicked when she asked about all the new books coming out. Of course I should have opened up the schedule with all six books, their dates, and their brief synopses. But in the moment, I couldn't find it, of course. So I just went off memory and tried to describe the books as well as I could off the cuff.
Phew. So you see, even with the most experienced speaker, stuff can go wrong.
The key is not to let it throw you, try to go with the flow, and just be yourself.
What happens afterwards?
When it's all done, when you're sure you were a blathering idiot (I always think that, and Maggie says it's pretty common to feel that way), you can relax and breathe again. Drink some water, take some deep breaths, but before you do anything else, send a thank you email to your host. It's just common courtesy.
Now comes the promotion part!
You want to take advantage of your appearance on the show by spreading the word around about it, so your friends can hear you and maybe pass it on to their family and friends.
Here's what you do:
1) After the show is loaded and available as a podcast (where you can simply give someone a link and they press a play button to hear you), listen to it yourself. Make sure you WEREN'T a blathering idiot! IF you feel okay about your answers, then bookmark the page and save the web address.
2) Decide where you want to share it. Here's what I'm doing.
- Writing a Gather.com article and then hitting the facebook and twitter buttons.
- Posting it on my personal blog (www.aaronlazar.blogspot.com) and my collaborative blog (www.murderby4.blogspot.com)
- Sending the link to my publisher. (she already included it in a newsletter to all our authors at Twilight Times Books)
- Inserting a link to it in my Lazar Newsletter that will come out in a few days (if you want to subscribe, just let me know.)
- Adding links to the show to my website(s), right up top where they'll be noticed.
- Sending emails to friends and family with the link, and asking them if they'll pass it around.
- Scheduling a tweet per day for the next week using Twuffer.com.
- Whatever else comes into my head in the meantime.
Have you considered doing an interview on the radio? Do you have that book finished, published, and are ready to promote it? Give it a shot! And if you have any questions, feel free to ask them below.
Remember, if you love to write, write like the wind!
Aaron Paul Lazar