I launched my self-publishing podcast in April 2016 and immediately began the hunt for great guests to populate my weekly broadcast. I like to run at least one month ahead in terms of pre-recorded interviews, so I’m always looking several weeks ahead in my planning.
I noticed immediately that a lot of authors do themselves no favours when it comes to being accessible to people like me who are trying to figure out if they’d make a great guest on a show. So here is a list of tips to help you to be ready whenever somebody is trying to assess if you’d be a great person to interview. Incidentally, as a former BBC radio journalist, I can also assure you that these pointers will stand you in good stead for any other type of interview or article that heads your way.
Get your Author Platform Ready
If you don’t have an online presence, you’re going to have to be J.K. Rowling or Dan Brown to stand any chance of getting any further in the podcast process. If you have not yet established your reputation as an author, I’m going to look for you online. If you make it hard for me to find out about you, I’ll just move on.
At the very least I expect a well-populated author website, with a detailed About Me page. That helps me to get to grips with who you are and what you’re doing. What’s even better than an About Me page is a press resources page with a full bio, book info, and images. You don’t have to be over the top about this, but a good quality image and a full set of information about you really helps. Here’s my Pressroom page for my Secret Bunker Trilogy by way of an example.
The business purpose of my podcast – as well as creating a useful resource and building my own author brand – is to share your online audience, particularly via social media. If you appear as a guest on my podcast, I will preview your interview on social media, I will make a big fuss about you on the week of your broadcast and I will continue to promote you as a former guest. This allows me to use your @TwitterName. This in turn helps me grow my followers.
If you do not have a social media presence, it makes the prospect of interviewing you unattractive, because I can’t generate any buzz. My aim on the podcast is to help you – and me – grow our author businesses. Without a social media platform, I can’t really do that. See how I create a social media buzz at: https://twitter.com/PaulTeagueUK
If you pass the first test of online visibility, you’re all ready to be invited over as a podcast guest. The first thing to realise about this process is that the host probably won’t have read your books. If they’re a journalist, they pretty much definitely won’t have read your books. Don’t be offended by this, they simply don’t have time, and don’t ask them if they read your books in the interview.
Authors let themselves down terribly on technical matters. Most podcast guests will interview you via Skype, some may use Google Hangouts (with video), others might opt for Facetime. It puts me right off an interview prospect if they begin by telling me how bad they are with technology. The chances of me getting good audio quality immediately plummet.
Download Skype for free. Podcasters will want you to use a decent microphone too so if you’re serious about your author career, buy one. Internal microphones are useless, the quality is horrible. Podcast expert Dave Jackson recommends the LogiTech ClearChat at less than £30. In addition, get yourself a decent HD webcam, just in case it’s a video interview. Just make sure that it’s an HD model, for crystal clear video.
Finally, don’t ask for the interview questions beforehand. This isn’t Newsnight! the podcast host wants a nice, friendly, informative conversation. They’re not going to ask you anything that makes you sound daft… unless you’re a politician!
Finally, the interview itself. As a veteran of hundreds – maybe even thousands – of live radio interviews, here are some rapid-fire tips.
• Never use a script – at the most, use bullet points so that you don’t forget anything.
• Let the interviewer steer you; don’t try to steer it towards what you want to talk about. A good interviewer will guide you capably through the beginning, middle and end of a great chat.
• As a rule, I’m not interested in talking about the plot of your book. I want to hear how you write, what your tips are for other authors and what techniques you use to plot and plan. I’ll buy your book if I want to hear the story – or I’ll ask you in the interview. If I do, keep it brief please.
• Remove as much extraneous sound as you can ie. barking dogs, screaming children and background music. Don’t shuffle, tap, fidget or blow your nose – be aware that the microphone picks up on all of these..
• Relax and enjoy, just remember that this is simply a conversation between two people. It needs to sound natural and informative. If the process scares you, pretend that you’re chatting with a friend on the phone.
Are you Podcast-Ready?
Generally, I prefer to seek out my own podcast guests. I’m not keen on direct approaches as there’s not usually much in it for me if somebody just wants to promote themselves or their product/service. I’m guided by interest, editorial requirements, variety of topic and sometimes, I even read the book and reach out to an author because of that.
If you do approach a podcast host, make sure that you’re podcast-ready by following the tips and guidance in this article. It will make you look professional, fully-briefed and above all, like you’d be a great prospect to feature.
Paul Teague is the author & host of the self-publishing journeys podcast. Find out more at www.self-publishing-journeys.com
Check out his blog: www.paulteague.com