Author Tips: How to Prepare for a TV Interview

You get a call from your  publicist with the exciting news that you’ve been invited to talk about your book on a TV show.  If this is your first interview, you’re thrilled and also probably a little nervous. Here are tips that will help you to ace the interview and sell books.

  1.  Find out as much as you can about the interview. Your publicist will provide you with all the details, but what if a producer calls you directly? Here’s some basic information you need to know. The station and the name of the show.  What are the demographics? Who is doing the interview? Is it live or taped? If the latter, ask for the air date.  How long is your segment? Are you part of a panel discussion? If so, ask for the names of the other panelists and do some research.  Confirm studio address, including which entrance to use and floor number, contact person at the studio and their cell number. When do you need to arrive at the studio and what is the time of your segment?
  2. Inform your publisher. If you’ve arranged the interview tell your book publicist as soon as the interview is confirmed.
  3. Use social media to spread the word. If you’re booked on a national show share the good news prior to the interview in your e-newsletter, website, and across your social media platform such as Facebook and Twitter. If it’s local, let your local business associates, clients, and friends know.
  4. Develop your talking points. Most TV interviews are short, about 5-7 minutes, so it’s important to prepare your soundbites. Think of what you want to share with the audience about your book and include interesting anecdotes or stories that will engage them. Know what’s happening in the news that pertains to your book.
  5.  Prepare for the interview. Find out if the interview is a general discussion about your book or if you’ve been asked to be on the show as an expert to discuss breaking news. Often the producer will do a pre-interview so you will know in advance what to expect.  Discuss your talking points with the producer and let her know if you have graphics or illustrations for the interview. Offer the producer an excerpt from your book for their website. (Remember you need to get permission from your publisher first.)
  6.  Arrive on time! Confirm address and arrival time, and allow enough time for traffic and bad weather. Call the producer if you’re delayed.
  7. Wear what you wear to work. Don’t wear loud colors and avoid small print patterns such as hounds tooth that can appear blurry. Don’t wear flashy jewelry, rather keep it simple and only wear one or two pieces.
  8. Bring a copy of your book.
  9. Turn off your cell phone and other devices. You can have your cell phone in the green room but once in the studio turn off anything that could ring, buzz, or vibrate.
  10. During the interview. Don’t slouch; sit with your feet firmly planted on the floor, and lean toward the interviewer slightly. (Tip: If you’re wearing a jacket, sit on the end of the jacket so it doesn’t bunch up on your shoulders). Smile when appropriate.Think of the interview as a conversation with the interviewer so look at your host, not at the camera.
  11. Answer the questions. Let the host complete the question. Pause and think before answering a difficult question. The host will mention the book title at the beginning and at the end of the interview, and most likely there will be caption on the screen with your credentials. So no need to hock your book though it’s ok to refer to your book once or twice such as “and in my book…”
  12. After the interview. Send an email to thank the producer and the host for having you on their show, and let them know you would be available to come back.  Once you have a link to the completed interview,  share it on your website, e-newsletter, and across your social media platform such as Facebook and Twitter.

Do you have other suggestions or funny stories to share about  your first TV interview?

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One response to “Author Tips: How to Prepare for a TV Interview

  1. These are great tips, Irene. Very informative and helpful.

    I would add that if the author feels a little nervous, he or she needs to stay focused on the viewer. Keep your mind on who you are trying to help through the interview and not worrying that you might forget something or that you have butterflies. It helps you to relax.

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