Being interviewed is nerve-wracking. Over the past seven years, I’ve been interviewed many times about my books and charity, Girls Love Mail. Though some went well, others left me wondering what I had just said. To help, I turned to a media expert and learned a few useful tools I’d like to pass along. Basically, here are 5 Interview Tips you need to know.
- Three Main Points: Before your interview, come up with the three most important pieces of information you want to convey. It can be anything from your website address, event details, and/or basic info about your business or books. Write the three main points down. Memorize them. These will be your answers – no matter the question. This leads to #2…
- You Don’t Have to Answer the Question: This sounds strange, but what I mean is you don’t have to answer the question you’re asked. Your goal is to convey your three main points. No matter what you’re asked, give the answer you want to give. For example, let’s say a main point is to let listeners know about your book event on Friday. The interviewer asks, “So, why should readers buy your book?” Answer? “Readers can find out all about my novel and why it’s perfect for them at my event on Friday.” Notice I didn’t really answer the question. This goes for any question. (To hear this in action, listen to most politicians!)
- Silence is Okay: We’ve all heard the interviewee who can’t stop saying “um” and “like.” The interviewee sound really nervous. Pausing can feel long and uncomfortable, but the pauses always feel longer to you than the listener. To get rid of the “ums,” practice with a friend who agrees to ring a bell or tap their finger every time you say filler words (um, like, uh, etc). You’ll be surprised how unaware we all are of this tick. Keep practicing until you can simply pause without talking instead of using a filler word.
- Know Your Audience: Or at least who you’re trying to reach. The message might change by the audience type. If so, you’ll want three main points (#1) for each audience. Always remember that a good interview is really about the audience, not you.
- Practice: I can’t say this enough. We all think we know our topic. I wrote the book so what more do I need?! I’ve found that I need to practice before every interview. It gets easier, but the times when I was overconfident and didn’t review my notes are the ones that got away from me. You know the old adage about practice.
Best of luck with your next interview!
Humans love stories. We hear them, share them, and make them up. And most of us, about 95%, want to write them down for others to read. Yes, 95% of us want to write a novel, but only 5% ever will. Why? Because it’s hard. Like any other skill, it takes time and practice. So why do we think that because we know how to write a sentence, we should easily know how to write a novel? Would you sit down at a piano and think you could play Mozart? How about even Mary Had a Little Lamb? Of course not!
If you’re interested in writing a novel, or anything creative, I first suggest you look for creative writing classes at your local community college. You can usually find evening classes filled with others like you. The class will teach you basics about story structure, pacing, themes, and plot development. It’s also a great way to start building you writing community and get feedback on your work. Having your work critiqued is typically one of the biggest fears for new writers. My advice… jump in and get it over with early. The water is cold but it warms up if you keep swimming.
Once you’ve taken a community level class, or two, look for college extended study classes. Many universities offer a wide variety of writing topics – short stories, novels, creative non-fiction, poetry, and more. Try some different styles to what you enjoy.
Next, look for a writer’s conference near you. There are a host of conferences across the country. Until you’re really ready to submit your work for review or agent representation, I recommend you look for conferences that focus on craft instruction. (For those in CA, the San Diego Writer’s Conference held each January is a good one.) Find a conference near me.
If you have the time and money, you might want to look into a standard or low-residency Masters of Fine Arts programs. Please note a MFA in Creative Writing can certainly help, but it’s not required nor is it guarantee you’ll get published. Check online for more information.
Whatever you do, you’ll need to practice. So write. Edit. Edit again. Then edit some more. Writing is editing. Of course, you’ll also want to love it. Writing is difficult, but it’s also fun. Why else would 95% of us want to do it! Good luck and Happy Writing!
Books on Writing I Love…
Anatomy of Story by John Truby | On Writing by Stephen King | The Hero’s Journey by Joseph Campbell | Save the Cat by Blake Snyder