Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Events, Interview Tips and Finding Your Audience

It's been a whirlwind of events this month. Last Saturday (July 24th) I was at the University District Market and later that afternoon at the PNWA Conference where I joined my fellow writing group members for a panel discussion on successful writers' groups. I think our collective enthusiasm for our Wednesday writers' group inspired those who attended--questions flowed and discussion was lively.

Check out my events this coming weekend Saturday (July 31st) at the Edmonds Bookshop at 11am to 12:30 or Sunday (August 1st ) at the EastWest Bookshop in the Roosevelt District.

In connection with my upcoming EastWest Bookshop presentation, I snagged an interview from Jacques Pugh for "The Soul of Seattle," a program on AM1090. The program aired on July 25, at 12pm. And first, if you care to listen, let me warn you, this is my first radio interview without any media training, coaching or rehearsing. That would have been helpful. And though I felt prepared, I'm not sure I was really prepared. So I'd suggest, if you haven't done TV or radio appearances, media coaching will probably improve your game. But it's another investment and I haven't decided whether it's worth the cost. On a shoestring budget, I have to watch costs and have to pick and choose what I'll spend money on. For now, I'm just hoping to improve my game by focusing on the basics of how this book can move people to a more sustainable, green diet and why I wrote The Northwest Vegetarian Cookbook.

The interview was slightly unnerving. The jarring part was suddenly having a microphone in front of me to talk into. It was just a slight mental freeze, a brief fleeting scary Sarah Palin moment, but it threw me off. Afterwards I remembered that I'd forgotten to use the host's name, blanked on my talking points and the reasons I wrote the book could have been more clear. But the show must go on. ( I bet Howard Dean thought that too after the scream-heard-round-the-world.) Still no matter what you think of your interview or TV appearance, you still have a book to try and sell, so dust your ego off and move forward.

Here are 5 tips for radio interviews:

1. Be an early bird. Whether you're going to the station or meeting the interviewer, get there early. Be professional.--From Timber Press authors

2. Make certain the host knows the exact title of your book but never expect that the interviewer has read your book. Know that it will be your job to help make your interviewer look good. Compliment the host when a good question is asked.--From Penny
Sansevieri in From Book to Best Seller.

3. Prepare, prepare, prepare. Go over your mission, why did you write the book; how were you inspired? Why is your book important.

4. Infuse your answers with stories, and don't forget the sound bites. People love stories, so add compelling or funny anecdotes whenever you can, rehearse them so you can recount them accurately. Rehearse your "hook" and work it in a few times.

5. Be passionate. I once asked Kathleen Flynn author of The Sharper Your Knife, the Less You Cry, about media training and she told me TV and radio personalities were so over the top, you might think they're freaks in real life. Start checking out interviews and see for yourself. Enthusiasm in life and interviews goes a long way.

Find Your Audience
Who are your book buyers? And why do they care about adding your book to their bookshelves? Answer those questions, then hone in on your audience. At the U-District Farmers' Market cooking demo last week, books were practically flying off my table. Everybody wanted to learn more recipes for using local produce and discover more about the nine farmers from this market who are featured in the Northwest Vegetarian Cookbook.

At my market demo, I made three easy recipes. It's the way I cook at home and I don't spare expenses at the market if the produce is right. It can get pricey with some ingredients, but you don't need fancy sauces or lots of herbs and spices to flavor good vegetables. Market shoppers, CSA customers and locavores who cook at home are my audience and that audience is growing.

So find your audience, be enthusiastic, smile and let them know why they'd appreciate your book. My writing group cohorts have their own audiences. Sheila Kelly, author of Treadwell Gold (2010,University of Alaska Press) has given talks in Treadwell and in Seattle and may find her pot of gold telling stories about Treadwell on cruise ships filled with travelers heading to Alaska. Who doesn't like a good riches to ruin gold story? And Kathy Gehrt, author of Discover Cooking with Lavender has learned that lavender growers all over the world love offering her beautiful book in their stores, at lavender festivals and on Web sites. Look for your niche, cultivate it and focus on that.

But don't neglect stores or events that may seem off-base because you never know what may happen or who you'll meet. That said, the Everett CostCo just picked up The Northwest Vegetarian Cookbook, and while I don't think of Everett as a vegetarian mecca, the book could inspire people to move to a greener plant-based diet. And the price is drop dead cheap--less than Amazon--so for people who really need to budget and save money or those who want to buy multiple copies, this is the place to go. And if my books that I ordered for my upcoming Oregon trip don't get here in time, guess where I'm going to get a few extra copies?
At CostCoI talked to more store employees than customers, but I sold a few copies and handed out lots of postcards with tips for produce selection on the back. Turn it over and you'll remember my book. Also, I got to keep this cool poster Timber Press sent for the event. The hound dogs' expression however is priceless.

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