How to prepare an author for an interview
The other day a freelancer called to schedule an interview with an author. I asked some questions — as I usually do — about the length of the piece, when it would run, and what exactly it was about. He refused to email much information and was cagey over the phone, so I contacted the editor. As it turned out, the editor was put out at being asked these questions and reacted by promptly canceling the piece. Que sera.
But this is quite odd because part of a book publicist’s job is to try to get journalists interested in interviewing authors; part is to make sure authors are prepared for these interviews so they don’t waste journalists’ — and their own — time. So it’s important that publicists brief authors on the interviewer, the media outlet and the story. Last week the Bad Pitch Blog, a popular PR blog, posted about this in The Interview Brief.
Realistically, most book publicists won’t prepare “interview briefs” as extensive as the ones described by the Bad Pitch Blog, but it’s still important to review the basics with authors (and authors should ask for details if they are not provided) including:
— When is the deadline for the piece?
— When is the piece expected to run?
— Has the piece been assigned or is the writer “on spec,” i.e., still attempting to pitch the story to editors?
— How long is the interview? (And for radio, is it live or taped?)
— What is the story angle (and who else is being interviewed)?
— What is the show (media outlet) like?
Journalists can help by providing this information in their initial query — even if the message doesn’t reach the right person the first time, it will get the ball rolling when the book’s publicist does get the query.
What else do you as a publicist make sure to tell your authors? (And authors — what else do you need to know about a journalist / media outlet that helps you give a good interview?)
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Fall 2012: I’ve really enjoyed writing about book publicity and meeting (0nline and in person) writers, publicists, editors, agents and others in the publishing industry, but I’ve — reluctantly — come to the conclusion that I just don’t have the time to maintain this blog.
I imagine there is some information that will remain the same and that will remain useful, but there is much more that is or will become out of date, so please keep that in mind if you find yourself perusing my posts.
For some time now, I’ve closely followed a lot of very informative sites about media and about the publishing industry. Since I find myself quite voluble at times about issues that pertain to my job in the publicity department at a large publishing house, I thought I’d set up a book publicity blog. The purpose of this blog is provide tips, primarily, but also information about publishing / marketing trends that will help book publicists — and hopefully others in media and publishing — do our jobs with greater ease and efficiency. Please note that the opinions expressed on this blog are my own, not those of my company.
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