Monday, August 17, 2009

Interviews: Nightmare or Positive Result

"Be prepared and be honest.” – John Wooden

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of being interviewed by Joseph Dobzynski for the “Authors Connection Show.” Joseph is the host of the “Innovation Bistro” radio show heard on the Radio Ear Network. He has been the chosen interviewer for major best selling authors during the annual Florida Mystery Writers Conference as well as for various other creative events. As an Iconoclast he brings the best from the people he interviews by creating an aura of the person’s talents. He can be reached at

The positive experience gave me the idea to blog about how to prepare for an interview. While staring at the blank computer screen, I realized I was not remotely qualified to pass along this sort of information. In fact, instead of giving advice, I needed guidance. After all, before interviews, I become nervous. Ridiculous thoughts circulate through my mind - like what if I forget my own name (the fact this has never happened is no deterrent).

Thinking, who better to give tips than someone with years of experience in interviewing introverted authors, I contacted Joseph. The good news is that he kindly agreed to help me out. I am proud to present Joseph Dobzynski and his interview tips:

Interviews can be one of three things, a positive promotional event, a circus, or a disaster. Most end up being one of the last two, but here are some tips you can use when you have the chance for an interview.

Always check out the show before you agree to be interviewed:
If other authors recommend an interviewer to you then it is a sure thing it has benefits. But many interviewers are only interested in boosting their rating so the interview may be stressful based on who they are. A good idea is to listen to a show or read something they have written to get a feel of what might be in store for you. Another issue to look out for is an interviewer who talks more than the interviewee does. For the best results, an interview should last longer than 15 minutes and close to 30.

Talk about yourself:
The book is your main issue but the readers need to know who the author is and why they wrote the book. Most successful authors have some background in what they write about and this gives them credentials for writing the book. Too many “Want to Be” authors write books that sound good, but have no idea what they write about. The books PR makes it sound good but many readers have been burned by more hype than good reading.

Don’t stage questions:
No matter how hard you try to use staged questions it always sounds like a canned presentation. Give the interviewer a copy of your book and some overviews and let the interview roll out instead of stirring it with questions. Two things to remember
1) If the interviewer is good at what they do, it will create a great interview focusing on who, what and where both you and the book are from.
2) Nobody wants to be sold to any more. Ask yourself how often you turn off the radio or TV or bypass ads that are in your face. The object is to get the listener/reader to want the book because it has information or is on a topic that intrigues them. DO NOT SELL, if the book and the author are good it will sell itself.

Instead of staging questions, listen for opportunities to engage the interviewer into the interview by asking them questions:
Questions like.
1) Do you remember reading about or when something happened sort of like your book?
2) Have you ever been in a dark alley and think someone is watching you? Reading my book is something like that.

If the interviewer bites the question then expand out on it. In other words make the interview good for both of you.

And finally, always offer to leave a book behind and autograph it for the interviewer or maybe if it is a kids book for their kids or grandkids.

Thank you, Joseph, for being a guest here today and offering such practical advice. Joseph was an excellent interviewer so my nervousness eased as soon as the interview began. My interview, by the way, will be aired September 29 from 11:00 to 12:00 pm and again on October 1, from 7 to 8 am.

Please feel free to leave comments or questions for Joseph or me.

Thanks for stopping by.

Tags: John Wooden, interviewing authors, RadioEarNetwork, Joseph Dobzynski, Innovation Bistro,


Helen Ginger said...

Very helpful information. My question would be, beyond the obvious, is there a difference between TV and radio interview - in the way the author should prepare or act?

Straight From Hel

Galen Kindley--Author said...

That’s great information on a topic about which I’ve seen precious little. This is Tweetable material—which, I’ll do. By the way, how did your interview go??

Best Regards, Galen
Imagineering Fiction Blog

Marvin D Wilson said...

Some great advice here. Thanks for the sharing of very useful information. :)

The Old Silly

L. Diane Wolfe said...


I'll throw in one more, because it's also how you land interviews. The book is not your topic - yor subject is how YOU can help the readers/listeners/viewers solve their problems. (I've heard it called "How can you help them be healthier, wealthier, wiser, or sexier?") So come at it with a helpful attitude.

L. Diane Wolfe “Spunk On A Stick”

Jane Kennedy Sutton said...

Good question, Helen. With my very limited TV experience, I'd say there is really no difference between the two. But, I'd like to get some other opinions.

Thanks, Galen. I'd say the interview went well. Joseph did an excellent job of making me feel comfortable and talkative. When I hear it I'll know for sure, though.

Your welcome,Marvin!

I like that idea, Diane. Excellent advice.

Karen Walker said...

Great interview, Jane. Glad to hear your interview with Joseph went well. You know, having spent 30+ years as a marketing and PR consultant, you'd think I'd have something intelligent to say, but Joseph covered the key points so well. The only other advice I'd give is to be yourself. Answer questions honestly and succinctly. Try to keep answers brief and on point. As writers, we can easily go off on tangents and in an interview, that can be deadly.
Thanks for this.

Karen Walker said...

Hi Jane,
A surprise awaits you on my blog today, 8/19.

Ritergal said...

This is the single most valuable blog post I have read in ages. I've done a number of radio interviews in the past, and while they went well enough, I wish I'd had these guidelines beforehand.

Considering how easy it is to do interviews these days, the opportunity is sure to arise. I started what I'd intended to be a series of Flash Interviews for my blog some time back, but got no further than Karen Walker, author of Following the Whispers.

Perhaps someone needs to do a blog on how to be an interviewER next!

Thanks ever so much for pulling Joseph in on this. I'm going over to listen to his show.

Jane Kennedy Sutton said...

Brief and to the point answers - good advice, Karen. I think I've gone off on one of those tangents before.

Thanks, Ritergal. I'm glad you found the post helpful. I wish I'd had read the info before my interviews, too! I like your idea about a post on how to be an interviewer. I'll have to see if I can come up with someone to help out with that.

N A Sharpe said...

This is great information, Jane. I haven't done interviews yet. I am really on the shy side so I find that very intimidating, but you give some great tips and things to think about.

Nancy, from Realms of Thought…

Jane's Ride - Novelist Jane Kennedy Sutton's journey through the ups and downs of the writing, publishing and marketing world