Columns > Published on August 18th, 2021

Prep for Your Interview, Sell Some Books

Don’t you want at least a couple people to see your interview and buy your book? Don’t you want someone to read a profile of you and spend a couple bucks? Don’t you want to be on a podcast and see at least a little jump in your web traffic?

Of course you do. Let’s get you prepped with a little program I call Preparation H. The “H” stands for “hella,” as in “Hella Good Interview.”

I know, nobody says “hella” anymore, but that’s the best I could do and still make the hemorrhoid joke, the jokes of my people.

Here’s a quick guide to make your interviews smooth as a freshly Preparation H’ed ass. Wait, ew, no.

Here’s a quick guide to make your interviews smooth as a baby’s behind. Eh, also gross.

Here’s a quick guide to make your interviews as smooth as the peanut butter with the good chemicals in it that keep it so super smooth.

It’s Not All About You

Interviews don't HAVE to be all about sales, and you don't HAVE to be likable. But if you're not trying to sell books, and if you don't care what people think of you...why do an interview?

With podcasts, web shows, all that shit, a good chunk of fans tune in regularly because they enjoy the host. The interviewer is part of the draw.

If the host has some room to speak, the listeners get what they want, listen to the whole episode, and enjoy it. You’ll be seen as a “good guest."

Check out your interviewer’s work. Come prepped with a couple questions for your interviewer. Make it about them. Just a little.

Your Books and Authors

You will be asked, “What are you reading now?” “Who are your influences?” or “Which books are out there that more people should read?”

Tailor these recommendations to the likely readers/viewers/listeners of the outlet interviewing you. If you are interviewed in a metal magazine, recommend something that would appeal to that crowd. If that crowd seeks out your recommendations and loves them, that gives you credibility.

Funny, Interesting, Quotable

Here are 10 questions that almost every writer will get at some point:

  1. What’s your opinion on writer’s block or technique for breaking it?
  2. Do you listen to music while you write, and if so, what?
  3. Tell us about your process. Do you outline?
  4. What’s your advice to writers starting out?
  5. What’s your advice regarding agents/big publishers/industry stuff?
  6. Can you give us a little bit about your background?
  7. Did you always know you wanted to be a writer?
  8. What do you do when you’re not writing?
  9. What’s your opinion on social media?
  10. What’s next for you?

People will read your interview and decide whether or not they want to read your book as a result. Someone funny, interesting, charismatic, or who has something different to say, even just a cute little story, will get more readers than someone who says, “Writer’s block is a myth, sit down and write.”

Turn a boring question into another reason for someone to find your work.

Decline to Answer

Agreeing to an interview isn’t the same as agreeing to answer any and all questions. You’re not under oath, you’re not getting paid.

Turn unwanted questions back on the interviewer in a gentle way. If the interviewer asks you about your family, you can say, “Families are complicated. I'm still not sure how I feel about my family sometimes. You know what I mean?” If the interviewer asks about your politics, you can say, “I’m not always sure what to think on this stuff, but I like hearing what other people think. What do you think?”

How To Be Rich and Famous

If someone asks you a marketing question or how to get an agent or whatever, instead of telling us your same old boring journey, give us one tip. One thing you did that was a little different or unusual and that might be useful for someone else.

Plug and Drop

This sounds like a weird addition to the Preparation H plan. Because butt stuff.

Don't plug your book at the very beginning. Nobody knows you yet, and nobody's going to look you up before listening. 

Don't wait until the very end. Audiences don't always make it to the end. They sense the wrap-up, and they shut it down.

Get it in once you've established yourself in the interview, and then forget it.

Oh, and a little tip: Make a simple URL that takes me where I need to go. Don't give me some long, complicated shit, don't send me to Twitter where I can get distracted by a billion other tweets. Set up a URL redirect on your website, or, if you're not a tech person, buy a simple domain and set it to forward to wherever people can buy your book. This is a 5-minute process, it costs $10 max, and it makes you look like such a pro.

Do People Want To Spend Time With You?

Nobody wants to spend more time with an author who was rude to a beloved internet personality.

Nobody wants to spend more time with an author who was boring.

Nobody wants to spend more time with an author who thinks they're hot shit. 

Successful interviews end with the viewers/listeners/readers wanting to spend more time with you. If they want to spend more time with you, boom, your book is the perfect way for them to do that.

Do I Have To?

Interviews don't HAVE to be all about sales, and you don't HAVE to be likable. But if you're not trying to sell books, and if you don't care what people think of you...why do an interview? 


Get Working by Robert A. Caro at Bookshop or Amazon

Get Chuck Klosterman X at Bookshop or Amazon

About the author

Peter Derk lives, writes, and works in Colorado. Buy him a drink and he'll talk books all day.  Buy him two and he'll be happy to tell you about the horrors of being responsible for a public restroom.

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