So many authors and writers are not only afraid but simply don’t know how to speak in front of audiences. Yet, getting up and talking about your upcoming or published book constitutes the pivot point for all your marketing and promotion. It’s also how you, an aspiring author, develop a platform, or readership, for your book, making yourself and your book attractive to publishers and increasing its chance of success no matter how you decide to published it.
Nowhere does your ability to speak succinctly and effectively about your book and the subject matter about which you are an expert matter more than when you make a media appearance. When you have just a few moments on a television or radio show, you must make a lasting impression and leave listeners with your name and the name of your book embedded in their memory as well as with a desire to seek out you and your book. You want to get them out of their chairs (or cars) and moving in some way–hopefully to a book store, phone or computer to purchase something you sell or to call you about your services.
How do you make that happen when you don’t feel comfortable speaking in front of an audience–or when it makes your knees tremble–or when you can’t seem to condense your words into bite sized pieces short enough for the media? I got over my fear simply by getting up in front of audiences a lot of times and actually speaking. But that wasn’t enough to make me a “media darling.” To accomplish that, I began getting media training.
My friend and colleague Susan Harrow, a top media coach, marketing expert and author of the books, Sell Yourself without Selling Your Soul, The Ultimate Guide to Getting Booked on Oprah, Get Into O Magazine, and Get a 6 Figure Book Advance, helps authors learn how to speak in “soundbites,” answer interview questions and generally get their message across without sounding like they’re selling. With this as her expertise, I asked her to be my guest blogger today and to give you some tips on how to avoid some common mistakes authors make when they gain those sought-after media appearances. If you want to learn more, I suggest you register for her free webinar/teleseminar on April 27 on how to use soundbites. It will be like getting a free media training! You can register here.
5 Media Appearance Mistakes Authors Make
By Susan Harrow
Is there such a thing as a bad author who has a good book? Can you be a respected expert yet be a bore? What if you alienate your audience and the media? But deeper than that, can dull media appearances tarnish your reputation? I think so.
A while back I heard an interview with New York Times best-selling author David Shenk who wrote The Genius in All of Us. The New York Times Book Review called it a, “deeply interesting and important book.” The book may be “mindblowing” as another author suggested, but you’d never know it from listening to the author. What was “mindblowing” to me is that his publisher hasn’t insisted on media coaching. Given he’s a bright guy he could probably easily triple his book sales with some solid training.
The interview was not only dull but unenlightening. And I was very interested in the subject matter. On Michael Krasny’s NPR show Forum, which I adore, (it airs on our own local San Francisco station KQED) Shenk talked a lot about what he didn’t know, and I began to wonder what exactly it was he did know. His not knowing made me question the reliability of the science behind his book. Krasny asked his usual probing and intelligent questions, but Shenk muddled about talking a lot but saying little.
Often sound bites can make or break a sale — for a book, product or service. In this case it broke the sale.
Here are some other mistakes David Shenk made that you want to avoid.
1. Shenk repeated his points.
Not only did Shenk repeat his ideas but he pointed out that he was doing so! Double double bad bad. Never say, “As I’ve said,” in an interview. If you’ve said it, you’re wasting time repeating it. Prepare enough information that you never need to repeat yourself and you’re always engaging us in some new thought or inspiring idea.
2. Shenk commented on the host.
Don’t ever comment on the host’s personality, style, manner etc. It’s not your position to judge him or his program. You’re there as a guest. Literally. A guest follows the manners of the host and is gracious about delivering information, entertainment and good will.
3. Shenk dissed the host’s question.
Dissing the host’s question is a huge faux pas. See above. At one point Shenk asked for clarification, a real no no during an interview. This is also a kind of dissing, implying that the question wasn’t clear.
Answer the question with information that you DO know to the best of your ability. Trust that the interviewer will ask you a follow up question if you haven’t gotten it right. Your job is to have exciting stories prepared that illustrate the best of your book. It doesn’t matter what the host asks you anyway. You answer with the information you want your audience to know. (Sorry Michael).
4. Shenk kept saying, “The book.”
What book? What is the title? I hear lots of authors make this mistake. It’s not just a mistake it’s a big missed opportunity. Remember that people are tuning in all the time so even if you’ve spoken your title once that’s not necessarily enough. Even if the host mentions your title, it’s still your job to say it during the course of conversation.
Whatever you are promoting you need to name it. How else is the audience supposed to go out and buy it or connect with you? Learn to weave it into your interview in a conversational way so it sounds natural and easy and nice. Your audience will actually thank you.
5. Shenk called attention to being self promotional and salesy.
Whenever anyone says, “I don’t want to be self-promotional” or “I don’t want to sound like I’m selling,” that’s exactly what they are doing — sounding salesy. On the radio recently I heard the president of a company do this by saying, “In the spirit of full-disclosure, I own XXX company.” Then went on to tell how excellent the product his company made was. Clunk.
If you are delivering value it’s the natural next step for your audience to want more of you and your expertise or your book. Only focus your audience’s attention on what you what them to think about or know. You are responsible for synthesizing, and concisely delivering, the most important points you want to convey to your audience.
It’s up to you to choose the stories that will be most satisfying and intriguing. They should be constructed to entice people to want to engage more fully with you in the capacity you choose i.e. hire you, visit your store, buy your product etc. Leave your audience with a good feeling about you so they want more. Media appearances give you ample time to practice good manners and grace.
About the Author
Susan Harrow, CEO of PRSecrets.com is a top media coach and marketing expert, and author of the books, Sell Yourself without Selling Your Soul, The Ultimate Guide to Getting Booked on Oprah, Get Into O Magazine, and Get a 6 Figure Book Advance.
Her clients have appeared on Oprah, 60 minutes, CNN, CBS, Good Morning America, Larry King Live and in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Parade, People, O, Time, and the most respected print publications and radio shows nationwide.
For the past 20 years she has consulted with Fortune 500 CEOs, top coaches, successful entrepreneurs and best-selling authors. Many of her clients have gotten six-figure book advances. If you’d like to join them, start by registering for this upcoming free webinar: Speak in Sound bites To Get What U Want. Register here.