Radio is a great place to start getting your book covered by the media. In the UK, local radio stations are usually keen to feature local authors, especially if your press release or initial contact with them makes them feel you have a good story to tell, interesting information for their listeners and you are a generally entertaining guest. You might want to offer one or a few free copies of your book as the prize for a listener competition related to the subject of your book.
When you get offered a spot on radio, let your network know the date and time so they can listen in and, if you’re doing an audience phone-in, call in with good questions.
Prepare! Try to anticipate what questions you might be asked about the book and plan your responses. This shouldn’t be verbatim, word for word, just a selection of points you want to put across. You can even make cue cards to prompt you if your mind goes blank but don’t rely too heavily on these; you are aiming to sound natural and approachable. If it is a larger scale, longer interview, you can provide the station with a list of possible questions, but often the interview will be only a few minutes long and the host will do a lot of the speaking.
Speak to your audience. Think about who will be listening to this particular broadcast, who your target audience is and pitch your language accordingly.
The interviewer probably will not have read your book, nor will the listeners, so bear this in mind when talking about the content. Use this time to clearly and briefly summarise what the book is about, and make it sound exciting.
Summarise! You must be able to clearly and succinctly summarise what your book is about, in a couple of sentences. This is not easy, never mind on the fly, so plan your summary before the interview. Make sure you include key words about genre and subject, and make the language interesting. Use buzz words that will resonate with your audience, but avoid business or market jargon terms as many won’t know them and will be put off. Always remember that you are trying to make people buy the book, but don’t over-hype it as the author, it can sound boastful or unrealistic.
Answer what is asked. It is easy to prepare what you want to say and not really answer the questions. Be aware that this can happen, especially if you are nervous, and be sure to really listen to the questions.
Respect the host. Do not interrupt them or rise to any combative questions. The interview is not only about you or your book, it is trying to create entertainment for the listeners, so the questions may be aimed to this end rather than simply information gathering or asking your opinion. It is best for you to remain polite and receptive at all times, and keep your sense of humour.
Keep it brief. Take your cues from the interviewer and do not ramble, keep it to the point.
Talk about your book. Mention the title (and repeat it instead of referring to ‘it’ or ‘the book’) and tell the audience where they can read an excerpt and buy a copy. Some stations will not let you read out your web address but this is ok if you get across your name and the title of the book. If your book is linked to an event like a launch, mention this too.
Looking and acting the part… Don’t worry about what an author should be like – if it’s radio the presenters won’t mind if you’re in trackies or jeans; they often are. Even TV interviews are for talking about your book, and it’s more important that you come across as authentic and natural. If you are concerned about how to dress to a TV interview your contact at the channel will be happy to advise, just give them a call. The most important thing for both radio and TV is to be friendly, animated and engaging; this will make for a more enjoyable listening/viewing experience and listeners will be more likely to be interested in what you are saying about your book.