Category Archives: Author interviews

Rules for radio interviews

Radio interviews are a gift. They give the opportunity to talk in depth about you and your book. I’ve uploaded on MySpace an interview I did as an author on radio which did just this. I know this interview got results because the day after the studio called as they had lost the press release but were still getting calls the next day asking for the book details.

Rule 1 – always mention your book title. Repeatedly if possible, but at least three times if you can.

Rule 2 – make sure the station has your press release which must include information about where the book is available to purchase, title, author and ISBN.

Rule 3 – Speak more slowly than usual.

Rule 4 – Try not to say umm and ahh or any other annoying inflection.

Rule 5 – Keep the sound of your voice upbeat and make sure you vary your tone.

Rule 6 – If a question throws you, be honest and ask for it to be repeated.

Rule 7 – Don’t waffle ever. Take a moment to think what’s you will say before you start speaking.

Rule 8 – Prepare beforehand by writing yourself a list of key bullet points about your book you want to get across during the interview. One of these is the title and others should be the key hooks which you want to communicate about your book. Have this list in front of you during the interview.

Rule 9 – Also prepare by making sure you have answers to those typical but annoying questions authors always seem to get asked. e.g. Where do you get your ideas from?

Rule 10 – Your final preparation should be making sure you understand what your interview is about, the programme it’s included in, and who you’ll be interviewed by. And that you’re happy with all this. You don’t want any nasty surprises on the day. If you feel you’ve not been given enough information, get your publicist on to this in advance, or if you are doing your own publicity, call the station and speak to the programme editor, presenter or one of the researchers. They will be happy to help.

Rule 11 – While you are waiting for the interview to start make sure you breathe deeply and have had a drink. Test your voice to make sure it’s sounding normal – not dry or croaky. Suck a throat sweet if this helps, making sure to remove it before you’re on air.


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Sunday interview: Bernardine Kennedy

Do anything and everything with a smile, says UK women’s fiction author Bernardine Kennedy. She is published by Headline and has her own website and blog.

1. What kinds of marketing have you done as an author?

I’ve done book signings, stock signings, local press interviews as well as other mags where I might fit their readership! Also library talks and book festival talks and panels. I basically do anything I’m offered. Even the local Ladies Luncheon Club and the Salvation Army.

2. What marketing did your publisher do?

They always send advance copies to the press and to magazine editors, as well as to anyone else I ask them to. They also send out very good press releases and will always mail me if they are approached about interviews that might ‘fit’ me!

3. What essential things about marketing did you learn that you wish you’d known from the start?

Most papers and mags are inundated daily with books and press releases so it takes a really good hook to get the reviews and interviews. The hook can be either related to the book or to the author personally.

4. What did you learn during your experiences of trying to market your books?

That although my book may be the most important thing in my life at that time I’m actually just one of the many thousands being published. An author has to work at marketing, it doesn’t just arrive on the doorstep with a grin.

5. What’s the most successful piece of marketing you’ve done?

Probably getting some short stories and features out there around publication date. My name and the book’s title and publication date were mentioned at the bottom. It definitely helped.

6. What advice would give for authors starting out with marketing their books?

Do anything and everything with a smile and get yourself known as approachable. Go into bookshops and introduce yourself when its NOT publication date and you don’t want anything from them. Payback will come at publication time when they remember you.

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Sunday interview: Roger Morris

Be realistic in your expectations, says UK crime author Roger Morris whose first novel, Taking Comfort, was published by Macmillan New Writing last year. Roger Morris has a marketing background and used his experience to promote his own book. (Like me!) He blogs at Roger’s Plog.

1. What marketing did Macmillan do?

Aside from sending out a lot of review copies, there were a number of specific things. Because my book has something of a marketing theme. Macmillan came up with the idea of writing to people in the marketing departments of big companies. A direct marketing campaign, in other words. Also the novel starts at Highgate Tube Station, so they produced and distributed a flyer which was handed out to commuters one morning. They also produced glossy postcards for me to send out to friends and acquaintances which my wife Rachel has been active about distributing. They arranged a number of interviews with local papers. Online the Macmillan New Writing website is an important marketing presence, but Macmillan also decided to film ‘author talks’ which were put on our amazon pages. Generally they have been very receptive to ideas, such as the flyer which was my idea.

2. What kinds of marketing have you done as an author?

I started my blog before publication and have used that to help spread the word in advance. I’ve now branched out into MySpace and have a more conventional website for the book. I also made a trailer for the book which I’ve put on a number of hosting sites. I also filmed a ‘virtual reading’ which is on MySpace. I had always been surprised when people actually bought the book after readings so I thought that putting one on the web would be a good way of reaching more people and spreading that effect.

3. What essential things about marketing did you wish you’d known from the start?

I come from a marketing background. My day job is as a copywriter and I have actually worked (freelance) for publishers in a marketing capacity in the past. So I always knew it would be hard. I think that you have to make the most of everything you do. Sometimes the story is not the book, which is annoying in a way. It may be the trailer or the virtual reading. Thing is a lot of people have books out – what journalists are looking for is a bit of a story. Something that distinguishes you from the mass of other authors.

4. What marketing diffculties did you face?

It was always said that Macmillan would not spend a fortune on marketing – but then again I think that’s rare for any publisher. The six of us who were the imprint’s launch titles probably benefited and suffered equally from the attention that was on the imprint as a whole. The broadsheets [upmarket UK newspapers] took a bit of a snooty view of the whole thing and tended to review the books all together. I only got one solus review and that was the Glasgow Herald and I was very pleased with it. The literary blogger reviews have been a different matter. Rather than concentrating only on the business model of the imprint, there was more of a focus on what the books had to offer readers.

5. What did you learn during your experiences of trying to market your books?

I’ve learnt that I am a shameless self-promoter. On a serious note, I wonder if all this effort might backfire and actually make certain readers dismiss the book. “Oh, he’s just a marketing person, not a writer.” I am a writer who happened to fall into marketing. Why shouldn’t I use some of the things I’ve learned along the way to promote the one product I’ve produced myself?

6. What is the most successful piece of marketing you’ve done?

My blog and being part of the online writing community through various writers’ websites. The blog has brought me to the attention of some influential literary bloggers, like fictionbitch and crimeficreader, who have both reviewed my book favourably. Despite having to buy their own copies!

7. What marketing advice would give for authors thinking about being published by a scheme like Macmillan’s?

Be realistic in your expectations. But be proactive too. Try and think laterally – what is your book about? Who is likely to read it? What innovative ways are there to reach that potential audience that don’t necessarily cost a fortune?

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Sunday interview: Daisy Dexter Dobbs

Pinpoint your unique strengths and talents and make the most of them, says U.S. romance writer Daisy Dexter Dobbs. She’s used her talent for humor and art to help market herself as an author. Daisy Dexter Dobbs has her own blog here.

1. What marketing have your publishers done?

All books are sent to reviewers. Most of their marketing is to attract readers to their full book catalogs rather than individual books. This includes maintaining attractive, user-friendly websites, blogs and MySpace pages; advertising in Romantic Times as well as other publications; attending trade conferences; and more.

2. What kinds of marketing have you done as an author?

I maintain a website, blogspot blog and MySpace page and blog, which I keep current and updated. I’ve also sent our press releases; done booksignings; given talks to reader groups, book clubs and at libraries and bookstores. I keep up an online presence through various chat groups and promotional websites, always careful not to offend readers by too frequent self-promotion. I’m also an artist, so aside from the usual promotional material, I create ATCs (Artist Trading Cards) that I’ve used as contest prizes with my books; as unique scanned image remarks on MySpace; and for swap meets with other artists. Each little 2 1/2 x 3 1/2 inch one-of-a-kind art card (usually humorous) has my name, the fact I am a romance writer, as well as my website URL and email address on the back. Because they’re so different, the ATCs have been quite popular and have brought me a lot of new readers.

3. What essential things about marketing did you learn that you wish you’d known from the start?

Money spent does not necessarily equate to successful marketing. e.g. spending a lot on a glossy magazine ad unless you’ve already had several books published. Another thing I learned is patience. The proverbial “overnight success” is usually the result of a great deal or time, effort and patience. Good marketing needs to be ongoing rather than just the occasional blitz.

4. What did you during your experiences of trying to market your books?

I’ve learned that good timing is key. It’s important not to promote a book either too early or too late for optimum effect. Word of mouth is invaluable. And, with the right gracious, professional and humorous attitude, writers can turn scathing reviews into gold. Never spam readers via email or by posting nothing but promotional messages. I’ve seen some writers commit career suicide by doing this.

5. What is the most successful piece of marketing you’ve done?

Branding myself rather than trying to brand my writing. Rather than pigeonholing myself, I focus on marketing Daisy Dexter Dobbs as a commodity, a product. This leaves me free to write in whatever subgenre I like because readers will know what to expect from a DDD work, regardless of category. The other most successful marketing I’ve done is to create a strong online presence – imperative for writers in today’s world.

6. What advice would you give for new authors about marketing?

Pinpoint your special, unique strengths and talents and make the most of them. For instance I love making people laugh, therefore I use that skill to attract readers. I would also advise new authors to nuture their image as writers by maintaining professionalism and courtesy at all times, with readers, writers or anyone in the publishing industry. Be patient and keep yourself motivated because achieving sustained success doesn’t happen without hard work and long hours.


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Author interviews

There are more author interviews about book marketing coming in January 2007, including Bernardine Kennedy, Roger Morris and Daisy Dexter Dobbs.

In the meantime have a great Christmas.  In theory, next week I’ll should be in the Tatra mountains and ski-ing. Except that there’s a distinct lack of snow in Europe at the moment.

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Sunday interview: Jane Jackson

Jane Jackson

Be well prepared and enjoy it, says Jane Jackson. Jane Jackson’s novels include The Iron Road, Tide of Fortune, Dangerous Waters, and Eye of the Wind, short-listed for the Parker Romantic Novel of the Year 2002. She blogs at UK Historical Romance.

1. What kinds of marketing have you done as an author?

Press release plus copies of books for review to all local newspapers and monthly local glossy mag, Cornwall Today. Notify BBC Radio Cornwall and get a 20 minute slot on the afternoon show. Take showcards to my local library and independent bookseller, plus free postcards featuring the cover and blurb for use as bookmarks. Because my books are based in Cornwall, I focus my efforts in the West Country.

2. What marketing did you publisher do?

Supplies the showcards and postcards.

3. What essential things about marketing did you wish you had known from the start?

Try to come up with a hook or unusual fact or angle that the press can use. You have to do as much as possible yourself. Publishers have neither the time or money to market any but the bestselling authors.

4. What did you learn trying to market your books?

To be well prepared, to look smart but approachable, to appear confident (!). To remember that newspapers and radio stations need to fill pages and air time as much as I need publicity for my books so it’s a mutually beneficial arrangement.

5. What’s the most succesful piece of marketing you’ve done?

I sent a copy of one of my titles with a letter of thanks to the manager of the Holiday Inn in Gilbraltar after she had helped me with my research and allowed me to use the hotel as a base for my heroine. She enjoyed the story and arranged a four-day trip for me, interviews with local TV and radio stations, plus a tour of the sights. It was unforgettable.

6. What advice would you give to new authors starting out marketing their books?

Go to interviews prepared. You’ll be nervous so make sure you have a crib sheet with notes covering the five Ws:

  • Who is your book about?
  • Where is the story set?
  • When is it taking place?
  • What does your hero/heroine want to achieve?
  • Why can’t he/she?

List one or two amusing or dramatic bits of information discovered during your research you can talk about. Remember to mention the title and publisher and to speak slowly. This will lower your voice making it more appealing to listeners. Enjoy the interview – it’ll all be over quickly and then you’ll be back in your workspace beavering away on your next book.

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Sunday interview: Anne Whitfield

Anne Whitfield

Marketing is a long term project, so stick with it, says Anne Whitfield. Anne’s latest novel, Gossamer Wings, was published last month. She also has her own blog.

1. What kinds of marketing have you done as an author?

I’ve created postcards, brochures and bookmarks featuring my books. I give these out and send them to bookstores. I’ve gone to bookstores and libraries to see if they will allow me to do book signings or sign stock. Aside from my website, I’ve also created a blog, and pages on MySpace and Squidoo. I have author days in yahoo groups. I’ve joined writers’ groups online and in the flesh and I go to conferences where I can to mingle.

2. What marketing did your publishers do?

My publishers are only small but they do send out my book for reviews and attend trade conferences to showcase the company, plus they advertise in readers’/publishing magazines.

3. What essential things about marketing did you learn that you wish you had known from the start?

That not everything you do will be successful. To have patience. Sometimes you will be let down by distributors/shipping etc so if possible have some copies of your book with you. Never leave the house without some form of promotion in your bag.

4. What did you learn during your experiences of trying to market your books?

That spending a lot of money on promotion won’t always get results. Word of mouth should never be underestimated.

5. What is the most successful piece of marketing that you have done?

Meeting bookshop managers face to face, and head librarians. In most cases they are friendly and helpful. Always leave them something they can give their customers, like bookmarks.

6. What advice would you give for authors starting out with marketing their books?

My advice would be to stick with it, even when it looks like you aren’t getting the results you want. It’s a long term project and can be hard work, but it can also be satisfying too.

Sometimes you don’t have to spend a lot of money to get sales. Keep several bookmarks with you at all times. It is amazing how often you’ll hand them out. Don’t be shy, don’t be pushy either, but find the balance. Be confident in yourself and in your book.

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