I was recently interviewed (for 30 minutes!) by Ann Wassall of Ann’s World. It was an amazing experience and, since she has invited me back, it is one I will probably repeat. However this time I will follow Carl Brookins’ rules.
Brookins’ Helpful Hints (non-gender specific and in no particular order)
Return to Mysterious Women.
- Don't wear a highly reflective white blouse, dress, or shirt.
- Don't wear a lot of dangly neck wear.
- Don't wear large polished ear (or nose) rings.
- Unless you are seated at a table (ala Charlie Rose) keep your knees together. (Yes this applies to men as well as women).
- Avoid clothing with narrow horizontal patterns. The pattern will interfere with the screen scanning and cause everyone watching to come down with migraine headaches.
- Assume the interviewer hasn't read your book.
- When discussing your appearance on the "show," ask the producer or whomever to provide either a straight chair or a cushion for your back. Lie, if you have to. Say you have a bad back. Soft couches and side chairs are guaranteed to make you look bad.
- If forced into such a situation, train yourself to sit up as straight as possible so your shoulders never touch the back of the couch/chair. Good posture will also keep you more alert.
- Unless you have great legs and hips and want everyone watching to know it, don't wear really tight pants or skirts. (Look at the Letterman show. D'you seriously believe those chairs are set up like that so David can look at his guests' left ears?)
- Put a tiny dab of cold cream on your upper front teeth if you're worried about your upper lip sticking to your teeth.
- Smile, look happy, even if it's five a.m.
- Assume people are watching even at five a.m. (They are.)
- Once you enter the studio, assume there is a live microphone somewhere near you!
- Unless you become very irritated by the interviewer, avoid giving one word answers. It's terribly annoying to the host who is using the time while you are talking to frantically search brain or notes for the next question.
- Never say "These are certainly bright lights. I don't know how you can work under these conditions."
- Speak clearly in a normal voice. Talk to the host, to one person, not to the audience of thousands, well, scores, well...
- As early as possible, mention the location and name of the store where you will be making an appearance and signing your book. If you wait for the host to ask, unless the store or your publisher is an advertiser, it won't happen. If you do it early, there may be the opportunity to mention the store again in the wrap-up.
- Never argue with the host.
- Got a video camera? Practice, practice practice.
- When the host asks you what happens on page 47, don't reveal that you wrote that page five years ago and haven't seen it since the galleys went to the publisher two years ago. Keep two incidents in the book in mind, one near the beginning, one near the end. Then if the question of what's on page 47 comes up you can say, "Oh, you mean the scene in which John lures Mary to the barn." It's probable your host won't remember what's really on page 47 and certainly won't say so, even if he/she has actually read your novel.
- Don't be self-deprecating. You worked hard writing, selling and now promoting this book. You are owed a little respect. (Not a huge amount, perhaps, but a little.) Besides, it's five a.m. and you're sleepy.
- Turning the occasional question around by asking the host what she/he thinks can turn hostility to friendship, and give you valuable clues as to the social-political climate in the local community. This is especially important if you've written a mystery in which the hero is a bad guy who gets away with it. And here you are in an uptight law-and-order community where the son of the mayor has just embezzled the city treasury and decamped to South America. Remember your purpose here is to sell yourself and your novel, not to be lynched.
- Avoid swearing, profanity, blaspheming, and bad grammar.
- Park your ego at the studio door.
- Complete personal toilette before going on-camera. Pulling, tugging, tucking, straightening, hair-combing, nose picking, removal of shower water or wax from one's ears, or intimate scratching is terribly distracting to the viewers, unless like Drew Barrymore or Madonna on the Letterman show, that's your schtick.
- Thank everyone after the show, including crew, if this isn't a live program, and any others associated. Keep a record so the next time you are in town you can offer yourself as a guest. And if they remember you with pleasure, they'll invite you back to promote your next novel.