I realized that there could be a need for this post because I was in a television studio not long ago. I had many fears, and waiting to go on after me was a very beautiful girl, clearly a professional who’d been on television for years. I told her I was nervous because I was new at all of this, and she assured me I would be just fine.
“Do you have any tips?” I asked her. I knew I had only minutes before I’d need to go onto the set.
She looked at me. “About what, exactly?”
“Anything!” I was desperate.
She squinted her eyes and thought hard. “Well, I really hate to buy anything at full price. You have to look around to get the best deal. You could try…”
And she told me all about that until I got led up to the stage.
It really was my fault because I was unclear, but I also realized there could be a need for some good advice for authors preparing for their first book tour. Here are some of my fears and what I have found the reality to be. I hope it’s helpful.
FEAR: You may not get a book tour.
REALITY: You may not WANT to get a book tour. Of course, I dreamed about having a book tour before my book got published too, but I was just as terrified as I was thrilled when it became a reality. What does a writer like me know about such things as being on television and radio? I don’t know if there is anything more antithetical to being a solitary writer than going on a book tour. I thought I’d be safe behind my computer as an author. In my daydreams, I can’t look like a complete idiot in an interview while in real life, I can.
And while you’re busy with your book tour, you’ll miss all kinds of shows, like:
But I know, most of us would be willing to forgo seeing interesting drama in order to go on tour. Which leads me to all of my other fears.
FEAR: You will go on a television or radio interview and the host will be out to get you. He will deliberately ask you the most difficult, awkward questions he can think of and then roll on the floor with laughter while your embarrassment is recorded, live.
REALITY: Unless you’ve written a book on how it’s OK to torture bunny rabbits, your host will not be out to get you. Their job is to make the whole interview as entertaining and smooth as possible, so they’re trying to make you look good. Most of the time, they will be really well-prepared like Irene Rawlings of the show “FOCUS” on Clear Channel Radio in Denver, CO:
The interview is then a piece of cake because they know exactly what to ask you. I find it more intimidating to do live television, but I really try to focus on two things: 1) answering the questions and 2) my host’s nose. If you stare at his nose, you can’t throw yourself around wildly, which is something they hate in television studios. Only disadvantage is that it freaks out the host a bit.
This is Matt Chambers, whose nose I now know very well, on the “Great Day St. Louis” show on KMOV-TV (CBS):
Remember, your host does not want the listener or viewer to sit there and think, “Boy, that was an incredibly awkward moment.” They will do everything they can to keep things smooth and easy.
It’s more difficult when the host hasn’t read your book, which can happen (and does NOT mean the person is evil), because of the sheer volume of the interviews they need to do. There are moments when they can start asking about things that are quite different from your book, just to pass the time. It’s then your job to gently steer the conversation back to something relevant.
If you did write a book on how it’s all right to torture bunny rabbits, then your host may well be out to get you and you’ll need types of professional help that I cannot give you.
FEAR: No one will appreciate you.
REALITY: Hotels will appreciate you.
Well, I don’t suggest going into those little bookstores at airports looking for your book, because unless you’re already a very popular author, chances are that they won’t have it. So that doesn’t make you feel appreciated.
However, hotels really like authors. I’m not sure why. I think it has something to do with being classy and of course, the added business doesn’t hurt.
I was recently just wheeling my luggage inside a hotel when both of the doormen said, “How are you today, Ms. Kwok?” Now, this was very nice but I realized something: I hadn’t checked in yet. How did they know my name? I stared at them in horror. And they were just the beginning. I felt like I was in a Kafka novel as I fled from pole to pole in this terrifying hotel, hiding from the Kwok-calling masses.
Later, after I had managed to escape outside, I asked my media escort about it. Media escorts know everything in the world. And indeed, she solved the mystery! There was a picture of me hanging in the staff room so that they could learn what I looked like! I kid you not. Those poor people, trying to eat their sandwiches in peace with these visiting authors staring at them.
When you’re feeling blue, know that the hotel loves you (a little too much).