For many self-published and indie authors, their careers take place almost entirely online. The importance of interviews and other features cannot, then, be overstated when it comes to marketing to new and broader readerships. Featuring on a podcast or appearing in an interview can create new interest in your work as well as satisfy your avid readers. Plus, the relationship is mutually beneficially – blogs, magazines, podcasts, and more all need content for their creative endeavours, and your appearance provides them with just that.

How to pitch to be featured – are you interested in being featured? Do you follow some literary outlets and exciting, engaging podcasts that have highlighted the work and words of your favourite indie authors? It’s totally okay to reach out to a source of such content and ask if they have space to feature you in the future. However, here are some quick dos and don’ts when pitching:

  • DO give them all relevant details – such as who you are, what you like about their content, and why you would be a great fit for their podcast or site. Mention your latest project so they know what the focus of the interview will be and provide links to your work and contacts.
  • DON’T talk about how featuring you will be beneficial for them or treat it solely as an advertising opportunity – remember, podcasts and websites FEATURE advertisements; ads aren’t the focus!
  • DO offer to provide a free copy of your latest book for the interviewer, if they are interested. This is especially relevant if you are interested in a lengthy podcast recording or are vying for a longform interview.
  • DON’T take control of all the planning. Let them schedule the interview, provide the questions, and handle the production. All you need to do is pitch your product: yourself, and your writing! If they are interested, they will eke out all the logistical details after agreeing to your appearance.
  • DO be polite and amicable. Treat your pitch as if you were reaching out to a collaborator or business partner. Be formal without being stiff, and be jovial without being overly familiar.

How to respond to an invitation – sometimes, you will be contacted to feature on someone’s blog, social media, or be a guest on their podcast. If a writer or host reaches out to you, great! But don’t say “yes” right away. It’s important to make note of a few things:

  1. Research their content – is it relevant to your writing? Do they seem reputable? Make sure you check out their websites and social media accounts, and listen to an episode or two of their podcast before responding.
  2. Ask for details – if these were not given, or it was not stated that they would be sent your way after acceptance, ask for more details, such as relevant deadlines and what they expect of you in terms of content. It’s always a good idea to get more information before agreeing to feature anywhere.
  3. Inquire about set-up – do they need links to your books? Your bio? A headshot? How about recording details – do you need a quiet space, better headphones, a mic? Make sure you cover the physical and set-up details, too; these details are just as important as the content-related ones!

How to prepare for your interview – preparing for an interview, even a written one, can be nerve-wracking. Remember, however, that content creators and your readers are all excited to hear from you.

If your contact provides interview questions in advance, great! If they don’t, again, look at previous features to get an idea of what they will ask you about. Standard interview fare includes a little about your writing background, what you’re working on now, some writing or business-related advice, and a deeper dive into your most recent release, which the interviewer will have read or at least be very familiar with. If there’s something you wish to talk about specifically, run it by your contact. They will probably be happy to accommodate, and fold it into their prepared questions.

Above all else, be energized and interested! Get excited to be on the podcast, or make it clear in your writing that you are enthusiastic about the interview questions. If you are bored or uninterested, the enterprise of the feature will ultimately flop. You need to bring positive energy to any kind of author feature in order for it to succeed.

How to answer interview questions – answer questions honestly! Don’t be afraid to stop and think for a moment before speaking, or to draft a few different answers to a written interview. All of that can be edited later. It’s better to spend time crafting an answer than to rush it.

Think of it like a conversation between you and a friend. Most podcasts, and many interview formats, lend themselves to a conversational style. Of course, don’t be too informal – stay on topic. But it’s okay to let your mind wander as you connect and collect your thoughts. Thought-provoking questions are what make a good interview, after all.

And don’t answer every question with a plug for your latest project – most interviews have a time and a place for that. Using a podcast feature or a written interview as an advertising opportunity alone is disrespectful to the creator who works hard to make their content entertaining and informative as well as an opportunity for authors to gain more visibility.

Finally, we have some advice for introverts! Don’t be afraid to ask for certain accommodations from the podcast host. Here are a few suggestions to help your recording session go smoothly:

  • If being on camera makes you nervous, ask if you can keep your webcam off during recording.
  • If you are recording in-person, make sure you are seated comfortably and have water readily available, as well as something silent to do with your hands if you need to alleviate nerves (such as playing with a noiseless piece of jewelry, or gesturing as you speak, etc.). This applies for recordings at home, too! Make sure you set up shop in the most comfortable spot in your home.
  • Ask to do another take if you stumbled over your own words or didn’t like the way you sounded.
  • If another take isn’t possible, note what you would like edited after the recording period is done.
  • Never be afraid to ask the host to pause for a moment as you recollect yourself.
  • Take it slow – speaking and thinking at a slower pace will not only alleviate some anxiety, but also make your interview easier to edit!
  • Remind yourself that you are not speaking in front of an audience: you are speaking to the host. The audience will come later, at a point where you are not even involved!

Listen to your inner dialogue and find what makes you most comfortable during the process. It will make for a better experience for everyone!

Remember: interviews of any kind and any length are meant to be fun! They are enjoyable to read or listen to, and your avid readers will be delighted to learn more about you and your work, especially if you don’t interview often. If you are featured somewhere, be sure to share it across your social media and via your newsletter. Even put it right on the homepage of your website for a time, or create a press page to host all of your relevant interviews and features.

If you’re looking for more interview tips and general advice, try listening to the KWL podcast or check out Kobo’s blog, which features written interviews with authors and more.

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