Audio interviews are in rising popularity as a tool of book promotion among authors. After all, all you need are a phone, a witty personality, and a talent for public speaking. The first one is easy—everybody has a phone these days. The second is a gift you may be born with if you’re lucky. The third is a skill that can be learned, improved and perfected with the right tools.
Since there aren’t magical drugs on how to become more witty (sorry, you’re stuck with those genes), in this article I’ll be focusing on how to help authors improve their chances to succeed at audio interviews.
The prospect of doing an audio interview is a source of stress, anxiety and even panic for many authors—especially the shy ones. Let’s face it, many things could go wrong. A technical problem might arise or the author might freeze at a question and start stuttering. Most often the problems are technical, or the interviewer is faced with an author who talks very little or is unable to stop talking.
To beat the odds, there are practical steps an author can take.
Andrea Sisco of Armchair Interviews (http://www.armchairinterviews.com/) offers the following advice:
* Be prepared. Ask the interviewer what types of questions are likely to be asked.
*Practice: Have a friend interview you (to avoid the ummm, ahs, silences). It's an art form and I learned this early on when I worked in tv and as my husband is a professional speaker.
*Have something to say: Tell us something unique about the book/story. If you're able to use humor appropriately, do so (people love it).
*Don't talk more than 90 seconds (in answering a question). In audio, people lose interest if you drone on and on. There needs to be a discussion between the author and interviewer, otherwise it's a lecture.
* If there is a topic you don't want to discuss, tell the interviewer, otherwise you could be caught on tape and not know what to do.
* Speak up. Audio's are touchy (since you're not in a sound studio). Also, make sure you turn off call waiting so we don't hear beeps. Put the dog in another room (children also) and make sure the windows and doors are closed so we don't hear outside noise that can be distracting.
* Have a pen/paper handy to make note of anything you think of that you want to discuss. Also take note of any directions given by the interviewer.
* Keep your voice well modulated. People don't want to listen to someone that drones, sounds flat, etc.
* If you're directed to call the interviewer (or receive a call) be there and be on time. Twice I've had no shows. They didn't write the time/date down. You could lose an interview that way. It certainly isn't professional.
Interviews with Armchair Interviews are fee-based and open to self-published authors, as well as those from small and big publishing houses.
Francine Silverman, who has her own Internet radio show, advices authors to practice in front of a mirror. “I have had some authors who do not contribute much - they wait until I ask a question. This makes it difficult for me since I can only formulate so many questions. Authors should practice talking about their books in front of a mirror and write down what they plan to say. If they are asked to provide questions beforehand, they have an idea what will be asked. Also, in my opinion, the best guests are those who promote their appearance to their mailing lists,” she says.
Francine’s radio show is called Marketing with Fran and is on Achieve Radio, http://www.achieveradio.com/ on Tuesdays, at 2 p.m., EST., and lasts one hour. “The shows are archived ten minutes after each show,” she adds, “and can be accessed by visiting the site and clicking "Hosts" on the left and scrolling down to my show. There is no charge to guests, who are mainly authors, publicists and publishers. Yes, I would say all authors are welcome, providing they are comfortable speaking and are cooperative in providing me with the tools I need for a good interview, i.e., a list of questions, copy of the book, bio.” If you’re interested, you may contact Francine at http://us.f506.mail.yahoo.com/ym/Compose?Tofirstname.lastname@example.org.
More useful tips:
* Join a local speaker’s club.
* Listen to many audio interviews to have a clear idea of what is expected, paying special attention to the author’s voice, tempo, and manner in answering questions. One great show I’d love to recommend is Barbara DeMarco-Barret’s Writers On Writing (http://www.barbarademarcobarrett.com/writersonwriting/index.html) where she regularly interviews authors, agents, and editors.
Though it is difficult to measure the level of effectiveness audio interviews have in actually selling books, it is undeniable that any promotion is better that no promotion at all. I have gone straight to Amazon and purchased books after listening to audio interviews. One thing that is very important to increase effectiveness is to announce the interview beforehand to as many people as possible—friends, relatives, colleagues, clubs, online groups, lists, forums, etc..
Finally, don’t forget that audio interviews are like murders—the more you do them, the easier they get.