Tips for Authors Preparing for an Interview

We know that radio and TV interviews can be nerve-wracking, especially for debut authors. You’re ready to share your book with the world, but you’re worried about your ability to respond to questions with polished, engaging responses. Radio and podcasts can be great tools for marketing, and just like anything else, it’s easier to be prepared if you have a strong game plan in place.

It’s completely normal to be feeling nervous, and we hope the following tips will help guide you through the stress and into a more confident place!

Step One: Pre-Interview

There are several tasks you should complete in advance of your interview. 

Familiarize yourself with the program you’ll be a guest on.

Listen to a few episodes so you can get a feel for how the hosts typically chat with guests. Each show has a unique “flow.” Take note if the conversation seems to be casual, funny, upbeat, serious or news-focused. 

Know what’s expected of you. 

You should have the date and time (and time zone!) of your interview written down, along with the details for how to connect (Zoom link, call-in number, etc). Additionally, you’ll want to know how long the interview will be, and whether it will be live or pre-recorded.

Select an excerpt from your book to read. 

Choose a 1-3 minute excerpt from your book to read on air. The host will usually let you know in advance if they plan on having you read from the book. Be sure to follow their cues, and don’t start reading until prompted.

Identify 3-5 main points you want to get across in the interview. 

It’s much easier to steer a ship when you have a destination in mind! If you know in advance what you want listeners to take away from your interview, it will be easier for you to guide the conversation. If you’ll be in a longer interview (think 60 minutes or more) you may want to prepare closer to 10 talking points.

Prepare soundbites based on each of your main points.

You won’t want to sound like you’re reading from cue cards throughout your interview, but you will want to have “checkpoint” phrases or sentences prepared in advance. You don’t have to use all of your prepared soundbites, but they’ll be there for you if you need them. Like using a compass, if you start feeling lost during your interview, reorient yourself with a few of your key phrases. 

Boost your confidence.

Remember that the host invited you on the show because they are interested in your book, and they think listeners will find you engaging and entertaining. The host won’t be trying to stump you or embarrass you! On the contrary, they feel confident in your ability to shine for their audience. So, you should too!

Step Two: The Interview

Now, it’s time for the main event!

Choose a quiet space to chat.

Find a quiet area with little to no distractions to complete your interview. Try to remain seated during the conversation to reduce background noise. If you’ll be on video chat, choose a well-lit area, and wear something that makes you feel like the best version of yourself.

Test your microphone and camera.

If needed, be sure to test your computer’s microphone and camera before the interview to make sure everything is working properly. If you’ll be using headphones, check those as well.

Pretend you’re on TV, even if you aren’t.

Whether you’ll be on Zoom or doing an audio-only interview, it always helps to pretend you’re in front of a live audience. If you smile and stay upbeat, the audience will be able to hear the enthusiasm in your tone of voice.

Remember to state your book’s title.

If you can, be sure to mention the title of your book multiple times throughout your interview. This will help listeners to remember it, making it easier for them to look you up or buy a copy later on. This is also important for live interviews, as you’ll help listeners who are just tuning in to discern who you are and what you’re talking about.

If you need to correct the host, do it kindly.

Sometimes the host will get it wrong. They may mispronounce your name, or make an error in reference to your book, such as stating an incorrect publication day. If this happens, take the opportunity to share the correct information with the audience, but be generous and kind when doing so.

Keep your answers personable and succinct.

Try to respond with short, focused answers, aiming for roughly 30 seconds per response. If you talk for minutes on end, it may be hard for listeners to maintain their focus. Aim for clarity, and arrive at your main point quickly.

Avoid jargon and filler words.

There’s a time and place for everything. Technical programs may warrant more technical language, and casual programs may warrant more uses of “like” or “um” in your speech. But for the most part, try to avoid these faux pas.

Use the “bridging” technique.

This will help you transition from the host’s question into an answer that you feel comfortable providing. A few sample “bridges” are:

  • I’m really glad you asked that because…
  • Now that you mention it, this relates to something I’ve been thinking about…
  • It’s funny you should say that because…
  • Thinking of that from a more broad perspective…
  • Along the same lines…
  • I’m not sure I can answer that precise question, but I did want to mention…

Wrap up on a positive note.

While you’re still on air, be sure to thank the host for their time and mention that you enjoyed the conversation.

Step Three: Post-Interview

Don’t neglect these last few tasks!

Follow up with the producer/host via email.

Send a personal note thanking the team off-the-air. When you’re ready to promote your next book, you’ll be glad you did, as you may have another invitation to come back on the show!

Ask if/when the interview will be posted online.

Keep an eye out for the link and share it on your social media. Be sure to tag the show as well.

Playback the interview and make notes for improvement. 

No one will have a perfect interview on the first try. But if you choose to learn from your mistakes, you’ll make your next interview that much better!

If you implement these interview tips, let us know how it goes. We can’t wait to see you succeed!