Monthly Archives: February 2013

On hearing yourself speak, and other things authors aren’t used to

When I went in for my interview with Faith Middleton last week for a radio interview about my book, I wasn’t worried about too many things. I knew the subject material by heart (it was my book after all), I knew how to get to New Haven, I knew that Faith was going to be a wonderful person and that we were going to have a nice, laid back chat. But the one thing I was worried about was how I was going to sound over the airwaves. Here’s a little secret: I hate the way my voice sounds on recording.

Ever since I was young, I’ve noticed that my voice gets nasally when it’s recorded — either on voicemail or tape or whatever. And I have always hated it. After all, that’s not how I sound. Not to me, anyway. No way, no how. So when I went in for my interview, I was sweating it a little.

During the interview, I had the option of wearing headphones to hear myself as the interview went about. I gracefully declined. When asked why, I told Faith exactly what I just told you — that I hate my voice. And that’s when she told me that I had a “beautiful and resonant voice” — definitely not a compliment I have ever received before. It made me blush a little, I’m sure, but I still decided not to wear the headphones. Even if I sounded like Morgan Freeman, it’d be distracting, I figured.

And then, after the interview was over, I silently promised myself that I wouldn’t listen to it when it finally aired. It just wasn’t something I was comfortable with. But just now, while driving to CVS with the radio on, I heard something that took me by surprise: my voice on the radio.

It didn’t sound anything at all like I thought it would — definitely not as nasally as I remembered normally being on recording. I wouldn’t say that it was beautiful, but it wasn’t half bad. It sounded, in all honesty, the way I sound when I talk. I liked it. I liked the fact that I sounded the way that I sound to myself. But was also a little surreal. Actually hearing my voice coming from my car’s little radio speakers was strange. I just wasn’t used to it.

But if you’re lucky enough to become a published author, I’ve realized, you’ve got to get used to doing things that you aren’t used to. You’re going to hear yourself on the radio. You’re going to speak in front of large groups even if you’re paralyzed with fright. You’re going to see your mug in the local newspaper and online. It’s all going to strike you as strange — as if you-as-author is a separate entity from you-as-you. And in a way, that’s true. It’s going to be a mask that you put on when you need to, a mask that you take off when you’re home alone and with friends. You might not be used to it, but after a couple of times you will be. What’s the point of owning a mask, after all, if you can’t use it to have a little fun?

I’ll post a link to the interview when it’s available in NPR’s archives. In the meantime, do any of you have any stories about the first time you heard your voice on the radio (or saw your photo or name in print)? I’m dying to hear about it!

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Filed under Author Tips, Reviews and Interviews

Tips on Author Interviews

Microphones

Photo by Flickr/Rusty Sheriff

As promised, here is a quick list of tips for authors who are looking forward to their very own interviews!

-The first thing any author should do once they’ve gotten an interview slated is to prepare yourself with some research. I can’t stress this enough. You need to know something about your host and their audience if you want to fit in with the program. If it’s a radio show or a televised interview, listen to or watch an interview or two so that you know how things are likely to play out. You want to know if the interviewer is going to try and trip you up (some get a kick out of that sort of thing) or if you’re going to have the spotlight. If you were to go on ‘The Colbert Report’ for example, you’d want to prepare yourself to be interrupted every couple of words. It’s just how this kind of thing works. The host has the job of keeping his listeners/viewers entertained. Sure, they want the interview to go well, but you can’t expect them to change their personality just to keep you comfortable. If the host is generally combative during his show, make sure that you can handle that kind of thing in your own interview.

-The next thing you need to do, once you have some basic background info on the program, is relax. If you’re nervous, the audience will realize it, and this can hurt sales. Listeners/viewers want authors who are confident enough in their own books to be able to discuss them without freaking out.

-If you’re working with a small press, and would like to bring it some attention, you should bring a fact sheet with you so that you can get a blurb in if the opportunity presents itself. Things like the Press’s name, date of founding, and where they’re based can all be helpful.

-Arrive early. You never know how bad traffic will be, or what the parking situation is. For example, I arrived at my interview last week with 20 minutes to spare — which was good, considering the fact that the parking garage I was instructed to park in was full. I drove around another five minutes, found a little Chinese restaurant, parked in their back lot, and slipped the kid washing the dishes ten bucks not to tow my car. You need to allot for this kind of thing.

-Make sure you bring a copy of the book with you. Chances are, you’ll be asked to read a few poems/passages. You can preselect some pages you’d like to read from, but keep an open mind during the actual interview process. If the host expresses interest or adoration of a certain poem, for example, make sure to get that one out on the airwaves. Chances are, the host is trying to help you connect with his audience. He knows better than you do the kind of stuff that is likely to appeal to his listeners.

-During the interview, you want to make sure that you direct listeners back to your book. Give them a snippet of something that’ll make them want more. Remember, the interview is meant to bring attention to your book. Tell them where the book can be found (amazon, local bookstores, etc). If the price is a low one, draw attention to it — $10 for a book of poetry is a bargain. But if it’s an average price, just don’t mention it. You don’t want to turn the listeners off right from the beginning.

I know this isn’t an extensive list, but I hope it helps! Relax, have fun, and just be yourself, and any interview should go well! I’ll be posting a link to my interview with Faith Middleton on Friday once it becomes available.

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My first radio interview

Hey guys!

Yesterday I had the honor of going down to New Haven for my first radio interview, which is focused on my book Chronicles of a Bee Whisperer and will air next Friday. The host, Faith Middleton, is simply amazing, and she made the experience just about as laid back and comfortable as it could be.

Until yesterday, I had no clue what a radio station looked like, or how an interview would go. I mean, I’ve listened to plenty of interviews in the past, but I’ve never known how much preparation everyone had, or how an interview might be scripted or anything else like that. I was nervous, to put it short.

But it was actually a really great experience, and I hope it might bring some new readers to my book. The show broadcasts to CT, parts of New York and Long Island, and to some other locales in the North East on WNPR, which means that I’m definitely targeting a wider audience than I have been lately (mostly local).

Something that writers don’t often realize is that, when you get a book published, you become its chief spokesperson. You are the face (and voice) that will be most directly responsible for the success of your tome. Yes, publishers will often have some sway with publicity — especially if it’s one of the bigger publishing houses. But even authors published by those establishments will, one way or another, wind up speaking about their book.

Radio interviews, television spots, author readings at your local bookshops — these all go such a long way in getting people to buy your book. You are giving the listeners a sample of what your book is about, and hopefully the sample will make them want more. But you’re also providing them with a sample of your personality.

People instinctively like to know more about the authors that they read. I don’t really know why, but I know that it’s true, simply by thinking about my own interest in author’s lives. I don’t know if it’s because we want to be able to find the authors’ lives in their work, if we want to be able to connect with them as fellow human beings, or what, but from a sales perspective it’s important. So for any of you authors out there who have the luck and good fortune of getting a spot on a local radio/television show: don’t sweat it. The listeners and viewers want you. You. Nothing else. You don’t need to puff yourself up for them, or make yourself out to be someone you’re not. Don’t even try it — they’ll spot a fake a mile away.

I guess that’s it for now. I’ll be posting some tips about interviews (how they tend to flow, the best way to answer tough questions, etc) over the course of the next few days. And I’ll definitely be posting a link to the interview once it airs!

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Filed under Chronicles of a Bee Whisperer, Reviews and Interviews