Stephen Arterburn engages in an interview with Bill Martinez

Stephen Arterburn engages in an interview with Bill Martinez

It was years ago but I will never forget it. I was on a local radio station along with the owner of a gym in town. The host asked “Bill” a question and he could not get a single word out! I sat in the same studio with him and saw what was happening. He was frozen with fear. I stepped in and interjected some thoughts and broke what seemed like a minute of radio silence. Bill was grateful. The interview moved along and all was well in the end.

As an author, you will have opportunities to talk about your book, your story, your opinions, and help listeners connect with valuable spiritual or moral lessons. This part of the writing process is vital and no one knows your material better than you do. Some authors don’t realize that publicity and promotion are part of the writing experience. Imagine the nine months it takes to wait for a newborn to arrive and then simply setting him in a crib next to your bed and saying, “Good luck with life!” It sounds preposterous but in a sense, your real work begins after the baby is born (or the book is birthed).

Your job after your book is published is to nurture it to good health just as you would an infant. In the process, we often self-sabotage on interviews, doing the very things that hurt our own cause. Over the past twenty-seven years, here are some of the things I have learned not to do.

  1. Expecting the host to have read your book. This is tough on some authors who think a host can’t do a good interview if they haven’t read their book. One author told me he would not do interviews with anyone who had not read his book. I told him that some hosts are doing four or five interviews a day and do not have the time to read every book.
  2. Not connecting with the host. The best interviews combine information, solid takeaway, valuable insights, personality, and good chemistry with the host. This doesn’t happen by accident; it happens when we look for ways to engage on a personal level.
  3. Failing to point listeners or viewers to your book. You can do a terrific interview and then forget to tell people how to find your book. Give listeners an option and make it as easy as possible.
  4. Giving one sentence answers. These are the worst kind of interviews for a host. I can guarantee you won’t get invited back with one sentence answers. This is not to say you should ramble indefinitely but don’t be afraid to talk and to share stories.
  5. Be unaware of the time. Don’t ignore bumper music when you hear it or think that you are on a 30-minute interview when it’s only 10 minutes. Be situationally aware.
  6. Over-spiritualizing or quoting too many Bible verses. Listeners don’t care if you can recite books of the Bible or verses. Be authentic.
  7. Not listening to the host’s question. Unless you are a shrewd politician, answer the question you are asked. You can move on afterward.
  8. Be Unprepared. Have your book and notes ready every time you do an interview. Don’t wing it. Flag key portions of your book and write out any quotes or stories you want to include.

In spite of Bill’s in-studio brain freeze, interviews can be fun. Enjoy the process. Remember that you wrote your book for a reason, to help change lives.