Thursday, August 22, 2013

Southern Speak - How to Sell Yourself & Your Book

With Victoria Purman

So you’ve written a book and it’s out there in the world, waiting for a home with a publisher. 

Or perhaps its about to hit shelves or e-reading devices.

You think the hard part is over, right?

Hah hah, she laughs maniacally. Now you have to actually TALK about it with others. Maybe that’s friends, readers (fingers crossed), on blogs, or to a journalist who’s interviewing you for a story.

Before you take to your bed and pull the covers over your head, here are some tips on how to handle the whole talking about it thang.

The first thing to understand about journalists is that they have to know a little about a whole lot of things. It’s the nature of being called out to cover everything from an interview with the newest Australian Idol winner to a protest march through the city – on the same day. With shrinking newsrooms, there simply aren’t the specialist reporters anymore who get the time to learn in-depth things about a particular area.

So, when a journalist asks you if your book is like “Fifty Shades of Grey”, don’t sniff. It’s been big, it’s sold a squillion copies, and its kinda the obvious question.

What you don’t have to do is give the obvious answer. Instead of screaming, “I wish E.L. James had never been born!” or “I loved that book and why don’t you, huh?” there is another approach.

Try something like this.

“What’s amazing about that novel is that its helped readers discover a whole world of books they may not have known ever existed. Romance comes in all shapes and forms, and the kind I write is….”

Always remember the golden rule: there’s no such thing as a stupid question – only a stupid answer.

An interview is a chance to tell your story so don’t waste it! It’s almost like pitching to a publisher, in that you need to have a short, succinct description of who you are and what you write.

“I’m Betty Boop and I write medical romance.” Boom.

“I’m Jane Austen and I write witty Regency novels with biting social commentary.” Easy.
You get the picture. Having this pre-prepared line in your head and at the ready will help you overcome any nerves you might feel when talking about yourself and your writing.
The other thing to remember about being interviewed is common sense. Be nice. As I said before, don’t get huffy when you get what you regard as a “stupid question”. The journalist is just someone trying to do their job, after all, and may even be having a really bad day. Why not see the interview as an opportunity to spread the word about your book?

Another important point to remember is that the interview may not turn out exactly as you want it to. It will appear according to the journalists’ experience, knowledge, style, the information they have at hand, the space available in the paper, and the editor’s final decision.

Your killer quote was cut? The story was probably too long. You don’t like your photo? Get over it – that’s what you look like. They didn’t mentioned the name of your book enough times? It’s an interview, not an ad.

One more piece of advice. It’s worthwhile formulating a one-page bio/media release about you and your books. It’s handy to have on hand to give to a journalist and it will help you hone your message. Include a photo on it and contact details/social media addresses and so on. I’m always happy to help with that. If you want to see what I’ve done, send me an email at and I’ll flick it to you.

Happy writing! 


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