A Guest Post From Diana Jordan
Writer, Reviewer, Nationally-Syndicated Author Interviewer
I first interviewed Larry Brooks in 2001 about his then new-release Pressure Points. I loved it. But that’s not why I’m here.
I’m thinking Larry asked me to guest blog because I’ve interviewed thousands of authors for my show on AP Radio, for an audio segment I created for Barnes and Noble dot com, for XM Satellite, Westwood One, and TV & radio in Portland.
Wait – not done.
Also for cover stories on Writer’s Digest and on the books page of The Costco Connection, on stage at writing conferences, and on my own talk show, Open Book with Diana Page Jordan. Oh, did I mention I serendipitously ended up in “the hottest writing group in Portland”* with, among others, New York Times Bestselling authors Chelsea Cain and Chuck Palahniuk.
So, after thousands of interviews – most notably with authors, but also with celebrities, newsmakers, and others caught suddenly in the glare of media – I know both sides of the mic, the camera, the stage and the pen.
And I will reveal a secret here: sound bites suck.
Sound bites are passionless, disingenuous, uncreative and lazy. As an interviewer, I harbor a severe dislike for “sound bites.” As a Communications Coach, what I do, instead, is to guide you to the message you are most passionate about, find the keywords that feel right to you, and coach you to restructuring what you say.
There is nothing worse than a stiff, memorized interview. Oh wait. There is. It’s the dozens of interviewers who will have not read your book, and probably didn’t even read the prepared questions your publicist sent in the press kit.
Here’s the typical scenario:
You’re on a book tour, or maybe you’ve put yourself out as an expert in your field to build your platform for your upcoming book. You are exhausted, because many interviews are done at 7am. Eastern. You walk into the studio, someone hooks you up with a mic or puts a mic in front of you, and slams you into a seat. Or you get a call at 4am Pacific, and are instantly put on hold, until, Go. You’re on.
Remember, the host not only hasn’t read a thing. You have to carry the interview. And you have an average three-minutes to do so. Or, you have to fill an hour, and sound exciting the entire time.
Moon Unit Zappa – appreciative because I’d read her book – told me that what made her crazy was the hosts who hadn’t read her book, and then would tell her what her book was about. Incorrectly. As time ticked away, and she had to decide whether to correct the host, or just roll with it.
James Patterson loved messing with the hosts whose heads were buried in the clipboard of questions that their assistants had scripted. As the host read question number one, and nodded, not listening to Jim’s answer, so they could proceed to number two, then three, then four…Jim would give them nonsensical answers, and waited to see if they ever caught on. They didn’t, he told me. He loved imagining the fur flying in the editing room after the interview was over and he was gone.
These situations might drive you to drink.
Don’t. One morning at 8am, I invited an author into my closet-sized interview room, and when I closed the door, I damn near got drunk off the fumes pouring off his body. He also smelled like he’d puked on his way over. No, I’m not spilling who this was.
Authors often think they don’t need to worry about interviews, marketing, building a platform until the book pubs. Untrue. Start long before you think you need it. You never know when you’ll get tapped for an interview, a conversation, an elevator speech – with a potential agent, editor, publisher, radio/TV/magazine interviewer. The irony is that communications coaching can even focus your writing – even before you face that blank screen. I had a Life Coach who was thinking of writing a book, but had no clue what her slant was – until, through my process, she delightedly landed on the answer.
Most writers are best on paper.
But it’s the communication that seals the deal, and later makes them a media darling. And you do want to make a living at what you love, don’t you.
Diana Page Jordan is an award-winning broadcast journalist. Her mission is to inspire, entertain, educate, and enlighten. Her website is www.DianaPageJordan.com. Along with her shows, interviewing and writing, Diana loves to infuse her energetic spirit in her signature Passion Statements, Communications Coaching, podcasts, voiceovers, narrations, on-camera work, and writing for clients.