Thursday, April 09, 2009

Book promotion is your responsibility

A client recently called to let me know that a radio interview hadn't gone well. "The host wasn't prepared, and he didn't ask me the right questions at all. I thought you'd want to make a note of that so you won't approach him again to book other clients on his show," she told me.

Well, I was sorry to hear that the interview hadn't gone well. I'm sure the host and the producer were similarly sorry the interview hadn't gone well; it's their show, and they're the ones who count on guests to help their shows go well so their ratings can go well, and paydays can continue to go well, too.

Book promotion is a team sport, and interviews are always easier when the interviewer does a good job. But, finally, whether or not the interview goes reasonably well is the interviewee's responsibility.

Interviewers are human, and that means they have their good days and their bad days. They have their days of being prepared, and they have their days of being unprepared, and they have their days of being focused, and they have their days of being distracted. There are kind interviewers and aggressive interviews and quiet interviewers and shy interviewers and combative interviewers and bright interviewers . . . and there are interviewers who are as stupid as rocks. There are interviewers in good health and interviewers with migraines and interviewers who suffer from chemical dependencies . . . and, whatever type of interviewer you run into, the interview itself is still your responsibility.

Find out as much about the interviewer as you can ahead of time by checking Google and the media outlet's web site. See, in general, what you might expect. If the interviewer's style is aggressive and argumentative (or if his/her philosophy is on the opposite ends of the spectrum from yours), then come prepared for some challenging, hard-hitting (or maybe even downright silly) questions. Conversely, if the interviewer's style is entertaining and light, then get set for a good time . . . and so forth. If your interview segment is a couple of minutes long, be concise and have sound bites ready. If your on-air time will be allow you much longer than that, then be prepared to elaborate and have the information you might need available to you.

Because you never know exactly what interviewers might want to talk about, know ahead of time what you want to convey. Which messages would provide the best book promotion opportunities for you? Create those messages, and practice delivering them. Then, whether or not the interviewer asks you the "right" questions, bridge back to your message points. Be ready to bridge back to your message points if the interviewer's questions are absurd, off-target, hostile, or just plain uninformed. Say something like, "That's an interesting point . . . and I'd also like to mention that . . . [here's where you slip in one of your messages].

Once you've become comfortable taking responsibility for your interviews, you'll find that your book promotion campaign will be a better experience for you. You'll feel empowered to get an interview back on track when it goes awry, and you'll be able to prevent the interviewer from having complete control over whether or not your interview goes well.

Book promotion is a team sport, as I've said, but you're the person who's promoting your book. Therefore, ultimately, book promotion is your responsibility. Don't let it scare you . . . in this context, responsibility is a good thing, and when you come to an interview prepared to deliver your messages, you'll enjoy the book promotion far more than if you creep to the microphone fearfully and having no idea of what you might expert . . . and how the interviewer might try to derail your book promotion campaign.