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Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Advice About Audio Interviews

(For writers, from a listener).
I listen to a lot of audio interviews with authors. From The Agony Column to Adventures in Scifi Publishing to The Dragon Page (among many others), there is a plethora of great interviews out there. But there are also interviews that, while interest, are truly boring. The problem isn't so much what is being said, but how it's being said or how the author presents him or herself. And when you fail to interest the listener, you fail to get them to buy your books (or other work). So, having said that, and having spend the last few months digging through hundreds of podcast interviews, here are a few points of advice on how to prepare yourself for an audio interview:
  1. Speak w/ enthusiasm
    Sounds obvious, doesn't it? Well, a lot of writers don't have this down. You have to make it clear how excited you are about your work. If you don't seem excited about your work, or just excited in generally, then what's to make us (the listeners) at all interested in you? I know there are many writers who are rather quiet, and perhaps some of them are shy. Get over it. Generally podcast interviewers are really laid back. They want to have fun doing the interview. So, if you present yourself as someone who is interesting and fun, they'll be more receptive to you, and as a result, probably ask you more entertaining questions.
  2. Be prepared
    Okay, this might be a no-brainer, but it does become obvious that some writers out there aren't prepared. Review your work, past and present, and know what you're talking about. If you have a new book coming out, or one that just came out, and you're asked about it, you need to know what the heck your book is about. Even if it is hard to pin down to a genre, you should be able to describe it without stuttering or babbling your way through. You, of all people, should know your work better than anyone else (even your editor, since said editor has a lot of other works to be familiar with from other authors). So, when you know you have an interview coming up, sit down and figure out how you are going to describe your work. If you're really nervous, ask the interviewers if they can give you some questions ahead of time so you have an idea how things are going to work. No, that's not asking for a lot. Remember, they want to talk to you, because it's fun for them and good exposure for you.
  3. Tell good jokes
    A great way to break the ice is to tell a joke. In fact, it doesn't have to be a good joke, in the sense of something hilarious, but maybe a clever anecdote, particularly about how you got published. Everyone has a funny story, clever anecdote, etc. So, if you have a funny story, tell it, and be funny and excited (sarcasm is good for you). If you have a horrible story about the publishing world and you want to tell it, I suggest making it cynical. Don't just tell it straight out (unless it's of particular interest in the now, such as some things that happened to Peter S. Beagle). Otherwise, use sarcasm and cynicism to your advantage. You don't even have to be good at either. Listeners don't expect you to be a Hollywood actor.
  4. Speak up
    Too many authors speak too quietly. This is sometimes linked to the first part of this list. Unless you're of an advanced age, try not to speak really quiet. It makes you sound timid. You're a published author! Speak at a good volume and clearly. We shouldn't have to turn our sound all the way up to hear you, which is a big problem because the hosts of the show aren't likely to turn down their vocals.
  5. Iron out the kinks
    If you're planning to do an interview over the net, try to make sure your computer can handle it. It's best to test it out with a friend or something. Trust me, it's really annoying when an author sounds like a robot in an interview. More often than not, it can be fixed.
So, does anyone else have any interesting advice for writers doing audio interviews? Let's hear your thoughts!

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