Book promotion is relentlessly exhausting. It requires constant attention, patience, and tons of industry. The challenge is especially exacting if you embark on a campaign of radio interviews and podcasts. Whether they are worth the time and effort is open to debate, often depending on the specific goals (and budget) of the writer. But investment returns aside, audio interviews can be wonderfully uplifting, revealing, and intrinsically rewarding experiences. If you are tempted to take the ride, here is a ten-point blueprint to guide you along the way.

First, don’t fear the host! They’ve agreed to interview you because they like what you’ve written or what they’ve read about you and your work. They want to promote your book, which in turn promotes their show. Know that interview hosts are ill-disposed to entrap you with gotcha questions; they want you to come off well.

Second, unless told or you learn otherwise, assume your host has not read all or even any of your book, an awareness that will help you frame some answers. Some of course will have read it and may be poised with specific excerpts to explore with you. But some won’t have taken the plunge. Plan appropriately.

Third, you won’t generally receive advance questions. The good news is, most questions will land in your sweet spot—about you as a writer and your book—for which you can easily prepare. For fiction at least, here are common queries:

• What inspired the book?
• How did you select the title and what does it mean to you?
• What process did you follow, including research?
• What role did intuition play in writing the book?
• Which character(s) were the hardest to get to know? Why?
• How much of the book is autobiographical?
• What was the hardest scene to write?
• What did you edit out of the book—and why?
• What do you hope readers will take away from the book?
• What did you learn about yourself in writing the book?
• What goals for the book did you achieve?
• How did you get started as a writer?
• How does your writing reflect both art and craft?
• What is your writing routine?
• Where do you find inspiration to write?
• Who are your favorite writers—and why?
• What advice do you have for beginning writers?
• What is next for you?

Fourth, prepare for questions you don’t necessarily expect but about which you have anxiety, e.g., anything arguably contentious. Think about where readers might push back on the narrative. You may not hear controversial questions, but you want a planned sense for how to handle them. Don’t be defensive, affirm the question, respond openly, and use the opportunity to transition to the strengths of your work.

Fifth, be armed with promotional sound bites to intersperse during the interview when the strategic moment strikes you. Hosts will promote your work, but not necessarily in the way you are inclined to do. Be your own best advocate.

Sixth, be yourself, using a conversationalist and sometimes casual style. Having the host and their audience like you personally is effective promotion and brand building. Listeners want to connect.

Seventh, without being mawkish, compliment your interviewer when practical, e.g., “That is an insightful question.” Interviewers are thoughtful and often put provocative questions you haven’t previously received or contemplated. Commend the questioner. They deserve it.

Eighth, be open to new nuances about your work. Interviewers might surprise you with different angles, e.g., about a simmering subtext to which you’ve paid little mind. Sometimes we write from our internal GPS without taking a deep dive into subtle meanings. We may in those instances trigger heartfelt responses unwittingly. Readers react in so many disparate ways to the same narrative. When a new perspective is offered, don’t fight it; embrace and run with it.

Ninth, have a ready social media plan for exploiting interview content, e.g., pull quotes from the Q&A. Don’t rely entirely on the program’s audience reach for impact. Keep in mind that some interviews get posted or reduced to internet or print media content while others may not. Consider, too, asking for advance permission to record the interview. And don’t forget to post available interview recordings to the media link on your website.

Tenth, most of all, have fun. While you should generally be mindful of how you phrase things, enjoy the give and take and immerse yourself in as natural a flow as possible. Delightful banter will render the experience worthwhile of itself.

Give it a whirl. You may be the better for it.

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