“Did you want a four or a seven-day Caribbean cruise?” the travel agent asked.
What a choice. Even one day on that luxurious cruise ship is enough to make me salivate with excitement. But recently, unfortunate cruising events broadcasted by the media brought that thrill a notch down.
Many feel pity for those passengers who found a nice cruise turn to a crazy nightmare. But when sailing in our own ship to success, the fate isn’t much different.
Hello and a very happy springtime to you! Maureen Pratt here with my monthly CAN blog on the Writing Craft. This time, I thought I'd go "behind the scenes" and offer some tips on conducting interviews when either you or your subject (or both) don't have oodles of time to sit and gab.
Although this might seem like a narrowly focused topic, it's not. On more than one occasion, I've had to interview subjects of articles, books, or blogs and been very, very pressed for time.
How do you get everything you need out of an interview that's short and, perhaps, conducted in a difficult environment (say, a crowded hallway or a parking lot)? Here are some tips:
o Prepare very well beforehand. Sometimes, the shorter the interview, the longer the preparation. If you are interviewing a person about him- or herself, find out all you can about his or her background prior to the interview. For technical subjects, don't just brush up on the area, bore down deeply so that your subject doesn't have to explain basics to get to the heart of the matter.
o Be well-equipped. Make sure that you have a pen with ink (I kid you not), appropriate and adequate paper, a hand-held microphone that you know how to use and that has fresh batteries. Turn off your cell phone and put it away during the interview.
o Know exactly how much time you will have. Wear a watch. Respect the time (often, subjects will give more time than originally allotted, especially if they appreciate the way in which you conduct the interview, but don't count on it).
o Know exactly what you want to ask. Phrase the questions so that they can lead to more than monosyllabic answers - but always keep in mind the time-frame in which you are working.
o Keep small talk, greetings, and other social conversation very short. Be polite, but not effusive. Get right to the interview.
o If your subject has only a few minutes, refocus your questions to cover narrower ground and ask if you can followup when he or she has more time.
o Leave the interview with a way to follow up with either the person you interviewed or his or her representative. Although the interview may be short, this may not negate the need for getting more information or answers in order to do a thorough job in the piece you will write.
I've had very profound interviews that have lasted only five or ten minutes. I hope that these tips will help you when you are time-constrained, but curious, too!
Blessings of joy and peace,
Greetings from Sarah Sundin in California. Today I have the joy of interviewing new CAN member, novelist Sharon Srock. Sharon has already made herself much loved in the Christian writing community for her upbeat attitude and how she helps promote other authors on her lovely blog.
I tried to write for publication twenty-five years ago and never really succeeded. I had a few poems and short stories published in Star Trek fanzines, but the novel I wrote never saw the light of day. I know now that God had another direction for my writing. Three years ago a new employee stopped by my desk at work to introduce herself. In the course of that conversation, she mentioned that she was a writer. I told her that had been my dream at one time. She looked at me and spoke five words: “You gave up too soon.” It was like my wake-up call from God. That night I began Callie’s story.
How many books do you have published?
Hi everyone. Pamela S. Meyers here with my monthly posting
on marketing your book. This past month I’ve been focusing on promoting my
newest book and preparing for a launch event this coming Saturday, which
involves a Power Point presentation and book signing at a local museum.
It came to my attention recently that there is another type of launch celebration in the form of an online party. Fellow CAN member,
Sharon Srock, recently held such an event on Facebook to launch her second book
in her current series, and I asked her
if I could interview her about how she prepared for the event and carried it
out. She happily agreed and I’m so happy she did.
I was excited when you agreed to share your experience with a virtual online
party you recently held on Facebook for your latest release in your Women of Valley View series. Why did you
decide to hold this type of party as opposed to one people can physically
attend? Or are you planning to have both?
Callie (Sharon’s first book in the
series) released, the women in my church threw a beautiful party. I sent
invitations and bookmarks to the other community churches, posted flyers all
over town, and had a lovely press release in the local paper. The attendance
was exactly ZERO for women I don’t worship with. They offered to have another
party for Terri, but I just didn’t
see the point.
I’d been invited to a few virtual
launches and parties, and I was curious. I dropped in on a couple then checked
in with the authors afterwards. Everything I saw and learned pointed towards a
well-attended party, increased traffic and likes on your page, and a few sales
as icing on the cake.
The first two results have already proven
to be true. It will be a while before the sales results are in.
far in advance did you start planning, and can you list in order the things you
did prior to the day of the launch?
Sharon: Sure. I started planning about thirty
days ahead of the party date.
I secured some prizes, nothing expensive,
but nice. I chose AVON jewelry and bath products since I have easy access, and
copies of both my books. Enough to allow me to award a prize every thirty
I contacted my influencers and asked if
any of them would be interested in being special guests during the event. The
two guest authors who were able to attend also gave away copies of their books
so they got a little promotion out of the deal as well.
I scheduled an ad to run the day of the
event and invited my entire friends list.
The day of the party I made announcements
on my FB page, asked my friends to share it with their friends. I also
announced it on Twitter, and invited everyone from all the eloops I’m on.
mention buying an ad on Facebook and that you were able to target certain age
groups of women. Can you elaborate on that?
you schedule a FB ad, you are given the option of narrowing your target
audience by gender, age groups, and interest. I targeted women between the ages
of 20-60. There are other tweaks I used to narrow the field. You can see the options
when you set up the ad.
Pamela: You also said on a loop
we’re on together that you earned credits on the cost of the ad. How did you do that?
I reached 350 likes on my page they gave me a coupon for $50.00 in advertising,
and I used that. I only spent half the budget, which goes along with what other
authors told me. They buy a $25.00 ad for their party, and I will follow their
example next time. When you create the ad, you set a budget for the campaign, and
every time someone clicks on the ad, it costs a few cents.
Pamela: I’m not sure I understand. Are you saying that you had to pay more
money in addition to what you paid for the ad each time a person clicked on the
ad? Is there a budget set so that when you reach the amount you set, no one
else can click on it?
Sharon: No, the $50.00 was my budget for
the ad. Each time someone clicked on the ad, it deducted money from the 50.00.
Since I did not use the entire 50.00, I don't know what happens. It works
similar to Ebay. You set the amount you want to pay and they don't go over it.
for clearing that up. You say you scheduled three hours. Was the pace
heightened throughout all three hours or was most of it in the middle three?
Sharon: The party started at 6:00 p.m. central,
and it was like an explosion. By 6:15, I was typing too fast to worry about
spelling. J The pace did not begin to slack off
until about the two-hour mark. Even then, it was still furious enough to keep
me in the seat without a break. At 9:15, I finally pushed everyone out the
“door” and logged off. I needed a drink of water and the little writer’s room.
Wow, that must have been wild. What do you feel worked and what would
are always well received. The partygoers seemed to enjoy the guest authors as
well. The guest authors also turned out to be the very best thing I did for
myself. One of them had done this sort of party, and if it hadn’t been for her
help during that first hour, I would have been seriously overwhelmed.
Which brings us to the first thing I
would change. If (when) I do this again, I will enlist a buddy for the whole
time. The author who helped me the other night helped field the questions and
comments, while I uploaded prize pictures. She was a God-send. Definitely team
up. Throw your party with another author or two and then return the favor when
they throw theirs.
Change two. Three hours was too long,
especially if you are on your own. Two hours would have been a great length.
Change three. I wouldn’t send the
invitations a month out. People get busy, people forget. Next time I’ll invite
my friends about 10 days out.
Change four. I'd use Hootsuite to schedule excerpts, pictures of my prizes, and maybe even a conversation starter question or two. That way, I wouldn't have to leave the party to go find them and get them up when it was time.
Pamela: I've heard a lot of good things about Hootshuite and I'm going to have to check into that site. Thanks
so much Sharon. You’ve got me thinking about doing a Facebook book release
party myself. I’ll be interested to hear the long-term results in the way of
Have any of you done a similar thing with your book
releases? If so, please share your tips and what worked and didn’t work in the
Sharon Srock lives with her husband, Larry, and two dogs in Rural
Oklahoma. She is a mother, grandmother, and Sunday School teacher. Sharon has
one and three-quarters jobs and writes in her spare time. Her favorite hobby is
traveling with her grandchildren. She is a member of the ACFW and currently
serves as treasurer for her local chapter. Sharon’s debut novel, The Women
of Valley View: Callie released in October 2012. The second in the series, The
Women of Valley View: Terri has just released.