So, I did my first live radio interview about The Transatlantic Marriage Bureau with my local radio station, BBC Radio Bristol. I was really nervous beforehand as, although I obviously know all about the book, radio is one of those mediums where you can’t predict what you are going to be asked. I had sent the presenter a copy of the book a couple of weeks prior to the interview date and then emailed to ask if there was anything particular he wanted me to do to prepare, but was told that it would be a straightforward chat, so no need for any extra special preparation. Fair enough but it didn’t help my nerves…
On the morning of the interview, which was at lunchtime, I just decided to keep myself as busy as possible, which turned out to be a good strategy. For me, the more I focus on something the more nervous I get, so making sure I had a huge list of work to get through helped to pass the time. When I arrived, the producer of the programme put me at ease and explained that I would be interviewed for around twenty minutes or so, much longer than I expected.
I met the presenter briefly a few minutes before my slot and then I was on! I was given a curveball straightaway, as knowing that I was raised in Coventry, the presenter asked me about the city’s history with ska music, which I know absolutely nothing about! A bit before my time! But after that bump in the road, it was surprisingly easy to just relax and treat the interview like a chat with a friend. We covered a lot about my background, career so far and the book of course, and surprisingly having a longer interview slot really did help in getting me into the conversation more. When it was over I felt reasonably pleased with the whole experience. I’m sure I wasn’t the perfect radio guest, but I don’t think I was the worst either and it was very good practice.
So, here are my top tips for any other authors about to embark on their first radio interview:
- Make sure you or your publisher send the book to the presenter/interviewer a couple of weeks in advance of the interview.
- Contact the programme a few days before to ask if you should prepare anything in particular. Do they have a list of questions they will ask?
- Ensure the presenter has a bio of you to refer to – it can help spark off conversation.
- Try and relax when you get in the room and treat the interview like you are just talking to a friend about your work.
- Take a bottle of water with you, just in case your voice goes mid-sentence.
- Enjoy it!
It’s been just over a week since The Transatlantic Marriage Bureau was officially launched. I say officially launched as it had been on pre-order for quite a while online, had been available in Hatchard’s bookshop in London for a couple of weeks and I had been previewed in a couple of magazines, such as Town and Country in the preceding weeks. I’d like to say that launch day was all bells and whistles, balloons and cake, however the reality was a bit different, although I did receive some lovely flowers from my family and dinner out with my husband. As an author I really didn’t know what to expect from launch day but, as one friend pointed out, launches today are probably quite a bit different to how they were a few years ago before online sales were so dominant. I think now unless you are a well-known author with an established readership who are eagerly waiting for the next book, then your launch day as such will be more of a soft launch rather than a big event. My advice to authors who haven’t been published yet, is don’t expect too much! Publishers are increasingly stretched and although they do a brilliant job in the lead up, unless you are a “big name” then there is very little left in terms of resources for first time authors to have a fancy launch. One of the questions I was constantly being asked by friends in the lead up was, “What are you doing on the day?” and “Are you having a launch party”. My answer was always to mumble that I didn’t know or I hadn’t decided yet. In truth, for me launch day was just like any other day really, except the kids were off school on half term, so we got up a bit later, played, did some house bits and bobs and I tried not to obsessively check Amazon for reviews! I did receive this alternative cover art from my daughter, which I think is rivalling the beautiful cover that Transatlantic has at the moment:
On the whole the reception to the book has been really positive. I’ve written pieces for the Sunday Telegraph and The Lady magazine and been featured in online magazine Standard Issue talking about Edith Wharton’s The Buccaneers. The book has been picked as one of Stylist magazine’s books of the month and it has been getting some good reviews on social media and on Amazon. What that all means in terms of its overall success I don’t know but despite no champagne corks popping or glamorous parties, this author is happy to finally say it’s out there. And at the moment, that is a dream come true!
I’m obviously not an expert on being a published author, after all I’m only just publishing my first book, but I was thrilled to give Psychologies Magazine the benefit of my experience for this article . It takes you through the journey I went on to finally secure a publishing deal and the obstacles I faced along the way. For non-fiction books I would say the main one was trying to get publishers to take on a project that researched women who aren’t widely known among the general public. Even though over the years I have come across many interesting women who I thought were worthy of further attention, I was often met with resistance from the sales and marketing departments of publishing houses who told me that they would be a “hard sell” to book shops and readers. Equally, I was told that publishers also want to publish books that are new and different but familiar – as an author this is very hard to achieve. However, after many false starts I managed to garner enough interest in Minnie Paget and her buccaneers to secure a deal. It wasn’t easy to find the right women but I hope when people read their story they will be as interested in them as I was.
Town and Country magazine columnist Alisa Swidler has called The Transatlantic Marriage Bureau “engaging” and “a fascinating read”. Feels great to start getting bit of feedback about the book after so long going through the editing/publishing process. Read more from Alisa here, The A List.
So, we seem to be hurtling full throttle towards the launch date of my very first book. I can’t quite believe that I’ve got here and I’m both excited and terrified over what the reaction will be – I guess I will soon find out! The book will be on general sale on 9th February but there are a few advanced copies already at Hatchards in Piccadilly, London. If you don’t know Hatchards it is an amazing independent book shop that has been trading since 1797, making it London’s oldest bookshop. It is a joy to wander around and discover unexpected gems – it’s a must-visit whenever you are in London. I had the pleasure of signing some copies of The Transatlantic Marriage Bureau there on Monday, which was a bit of dream come true. I only hope if I get the chance again I don’t shake quite as much while doing it!