I launched my self-publishing podcast in April 2016 and immediately began the hunt for great guests to populate my weekly broadcast.
I like to run at least one month ahead in terms of pre-recorded interviews, so I’m always looking forward several weeks in my planning.
I noticed immediately that authors do themselves no favours when it comes to being easily accessible to people like me who are trying to figure out if they’d make a great guest on a show.
So here is a list of tips to help you to be ready whenever somebody is trying to assess if you’d be a great person to interview.
Incidentally, as a former BBC radio journalist, I can also assure you that these ideas will stand you in good stead for any other type of interview or article that may be heading your way.
Get your author platform ready
If you don’t have an online presence, you’re going to have to be J.K. Rowling or Dan Brown to stand any chance of getting past the first base.
If you have not yet established your reputation as an author, I’m going to research you online.
If you make it hard for me to find out anything about you, then I’ll just move on.
Nobody has the time to look for the proverbial needle in a haystack.
At the very least I expect a well-populated author website, with a detailed About Me page.
That helps me to get to grips with who you are and what you’re doing.
What’s even better than an About Me page is a press resources page, with a full bio, book info, and images.
You don’t have to be over the top about this, but a good quality image and a full set of information about you really helps.
Here’s my Pressroom page for my Secret Bunker Trilogy by way of an example: https://paulteague.net/the-secret-bunker-press/
The business purpose of my running a podcast – as well as creating a useful resource and building my own author brand – is to share content with my online audience, particularly via social media.
If you appear as a guest on my podcast, I will preview your interview on social media, I will make a big fuss about you on the week of your broadcast and I will continue to promote you as a former guest.
This allows me to use your @TwitterName and, in turn, helps me grow my own followers.
If you do not have a social media presence, it makes the prospect of interviewing you very unattractive, because I can’t generate any buzz.
My aim on the podcast is to help you – and me – grow our author businesses.
Without a social media platform, I can’t really do that.
By the way, I spot most of my potential guests on Twitter. And yes, that’s a big hint!
If you pass the first test of online visibility, you’re all ready to be invited over as a podcast guest.
The first thing to realise about this process is that the host probably won’t have read your books.
If they’re a journalist, they definitely won’t have read your books 🙂
Don’t be offended by this, they simply don’t have time, and don’t ask them if they read your books in the interview, it's just create an awkward silence.
Don't be offended about that, I worked as a journalist for almost two decades, part of the job was getting to grips with information fast so that I could ask sensible questions to my interviewees.
Authors let themselves down terribly on technical matters.
Most podcast guests will interview you via Skype, some may use YouTube Live (with video) and others might opt for Facetime or Zoom.
It puts me right off an interview prospect if they begin the process by telling me how bad they are with technology.
The chances of me getting good audio quality immediately plummet.
Download Skype for free at https://www.skype.com/en/.
Podcasters will want you to use a decent microphone too, if you’re serious about your author career, buy one now.
Internal microphones are useless, the quality is horrible.
Podcast expert Dave Jackson recommends the LogiTech ClearChat at less than £30.
In addition, get yourself a decent HD webcam, just in case it’s a video interview.
The Logitech 920 HD webcam would be my preferred choice, but that’s almost £70, so a great budget model is the Logitech C270, which is what I use.
Just make sure that it’s an HD model, for crystal clear video.
To check out recommended podcasting equipment, check out the resources page for my How To Start A Podcast book here.
Finally, don’t ask for the interview questions beforehand.
This isn’t Newsnight, the podcast host wants a nice, friendly, informative conversation, they’re not going to ask you anything that makes you sound daft … unless you’re a politician!
Finally, to the interview itself.
As a veteran of hundreds – maybe even thousands – of live radio interviews, here are some rapid-fire tips.
Never use a script – at the most, use bullet points so that you don’t forget anything.
Let the interviewer steer you, don’t hijack the interview with what you want to talk about.
A good interviewer will guide you capably through the beginning, middle and end of a great chat.
As a general rule, I’m not interested in talking about the plot of your book.
I want to hear how you write, what your tips are for other authors and what techniques you use to plot and plan.
I’ll buy your book if I want to hear the story – or I’ll ask you in the interview – if I do, keep it brief please (think ‘elevator pitch').
Remove as much extraneous sound as you can ie barking dogs, screaming children and background music.
Don’t shuffle, tap, fidget, sniff or blow your nose – be aware that the microphone picks up all of your bad habits.
Relax and enjoy, just remember that this is simply a conversational chat between two people.
It needs to sound natural and informative, if the process scares you, pretend that you’re chatting with a friend on the phone.
Just don’t reveal what you got up to at the weekend 🙂
Pitching to podcast hosts
As a podcast host, I never want to miss out on a potentially great guest but, at the same time, I don't want to interview somebody who can't sustain 50 minutes of informative and entertaining conversation.
It's a fine balance!
I get a lot of pitches from people who want to be on my podcast but, to be brutally honest, why would I want to interview a lot of them when they haven't even done their basic research about my show?
Here are some tips to increase your chances of getting a ‘yes' when you pitch yourself as a podcast guest:
- Listen to the podcast first to make sure that you'll be a good fit – if you're not, don't pitch
- Check to see if the host has a web page with pitching guidelines – and follow them!
- If the only reason that you want to be on my podcast is to sell something, you'll get a ‘no' – first and foremost I need a great guest and fabulous content. That doesn't mean that I won't support your product by mentioning web links and places where listeners can find out more. It's that you have something to sell isn't a good enough reason for me to interview you. Content first!
- Help the podcast host by explaining in your pitch what you do, where they can find out more about you (web links!) and the topics that you could discuss that relate to the themes of the show
Take a look at my How To Get An Interview For Your Business On BBC Local Radio blog post for more tips.
Amela Hay (a former guest on my podcast!) created this useful article and podcast episode on the same topic: https://authorpreneurpodcast.com/get-interviewed/