Monday, January 17, 2011

In the Spotlight: Sarah Stevenson and Lisa Schroder!

This week we're going to shine the light on a couple of fellow violets who've had some pretty big milestones in their promotional lives.

First off, I was lucky enough to meet Miss Sarah Stevenson (whom some of you may know as aquafortis) at ALA Midwinter last week where she was signing her debut novel, THE LATTE REBELLION! Sarah has been a violet since the very beginning, so it was very cool to see her signing books and greeting her adoring fans like an old pro.

(And look at that, both she and Cindy Pon were wearing violet in honor of the occasion--although I will tell you right now, Cindy is NO shrinking violet. She is, however, the perfect person to follow around at big events like this because she very graciously takes all the social heat.)

Sarah even signed a book for you (yes, YOU) and we will be giving it away here as a prize in the next few weeks. Congratulations, Sarah, on the release of your first book!


Lisa Schroeder, author of numerous books for kids and teens, including CHASING BROOKLYN (Simon Pulse, 2010) and IT'S RAINING CUPCAKES (Aladdin, 2010);also experienced a huge promotional milestone--she was on TV! ::shudder:: and has graciously agreed to allow us all to live vicariously through her experience.

An Introvert's Worst Nightmare - the TV interview

I only have myself to blame, really.

You see, when I met someone who worked for a local television station, I jokingly said to her, "Hey, maybe you could pitch a piece about my new novel for kids, It's Raining Cupcakes. Everyone loves cupcakes, right?"

She went to work and did just that, to another producer who works for the show Better Portland. And within a couple of weeks, I had an e-mail asking if I'd be willing to meet up with one of the hosts of the show and do an interview.

I read the e-mail and pretty much started hyperventilating. Me? On television!? Most people would probably be excited. I mean, it's a great promotional opportunity! I don't think excited is the word I would use, however. Terrified is the word I would use.

Still, I went through with it. I knew I'd be crazy to turn down an opportunity like this one.

The day of the interview, it was rainy and windy. Yes, yes, I live in Oregon, but we don't get big rain storms like the one that day very often. Fortunately, I found a parking spot fairly close to Cupcake Jones, the shop where they were conducting the interview, and I ran in, with my styled hair that I took two hours to do mostly intact.

They were making it a two-part piece. First, they'd give viewers an inside-look atthe cupcake shop. Then, the next segment would be me and my book. I watched as they walked around, filming the shop and interviewing one of the owners. I was so impressed with her. She did an amazing job - she sounded natural and not nervous AT all. I kept thinking to myself, how can I do that?

So, here are my tips, in case you are ever in the fortunate (or unfortunate, depending on how you look at it) position of doing a television interview.

1. Don't be afraid to ask your interviewer to give you an idea of what she's going to ask you before you go on air. The more prepared you can be, the better.

2. Have a short description of your book nailed down. This you can practice up and down and sideways before the big day - and you should! More than likely, this will be one of the questions you're asked, and you should be able to answer with ease.

3. Try to forget about the camera. I know, not easy! But I kept telling myself, just talk to Brooke (my interviewer). I really tried to pretend it was me and her, having a conversation, and that was all.

4. Don't look at the camera. More than likely, you'll be told this before the interview, but it's good to mention here as well. For some reason, I kept looking out the window, and I mentioned it to Brooke afterwards and apologized. I should have kept my eyes on her, but I think when we get nervous, our eyes tend to wander, and mine certainly did.

5. Don't try to tell jokes. This advice came from my publicist. He said it's very hard to pull funny off in front of a camera, and unless you're a professional comedian, you shouldn't attempt it. Warm and sincere is a better way to go.

6. Keep your answers fairly short. The more you go on and on, the more likely you are to say something you don't really want to say. If your interviewer wants you to expand on something, she can do a follow-up question.

7. Don't drink or eat anything before stepping in front of the camera! When the shop's owner offered me a bottle of water, I took it. And proceeded to dribble water down the front of my blouse. ARGH! Fortunately, I had time before my turn was up, and my shirt dried. But seriously - don't risk it!!

8. And finally, bring along a change of clothes just in case. I was kicking myself for not doing this after the water incident, and it's something I'll do the next time (if there ever is a next time) for sure!

If you have any other tips I've forgotten, please do share in the comments!

An interesting side note - watching the show when it aired was almost worse than doing the interview! I kept thinking, what if it's awful? I took solace in the fact that this show is on weekdays at 1:00 in the afternoon. Not a heavy viewing time for sure! I had a few friends and family members recording it, but I knew they'd love me even if it was terrible. Would you like to see it? Here it is:

Wow Lisa. I am SO impressed! You pulled that off really, really well!  I would have been terrified and hiding! Thanks for those great tips, although I'm hoping I'll never need them. :-)

And lastly, the winner for last week's drawing for a Staples Gift Certificate is . . . Caroline! Email me, Caroline, and I will get that right out to you!


jeanniemobley said...

Congratulations, Sarah on the debut and signing at ALA! And wow,Lisa, great interview.

This was a well-timed topic given all the outrage about the Newbery and Caldecott winners NOT being on the Today show. I've always loved that TV interview, but I've also always thought that it was almost more of a punishment for the winners as much as a reward. I would be terrified of a TV interview with adequate prep time--getting the Newbery call one morning and being on big national TV 24 hours later seems like an introverts worst nightmare!

Angela said...

What great tips for TV interviews!

Elizabeth Loupas said...

Congratulations, Sarah, and all best wishes for great success with your debut. THE LATTE REBELLION sounds intriguing and I love the cover.

Lisa, thanks for the wonderful tips on surviving a TV interview. I agree with Jeannie that it seems almost more like a punishment than a reward, but I've copied your tips and tucked them away just in case.

I second the love for Cindy Pon. Her books are fantastic and Cindy herself is the most charming person one could hope to meet (even if I only have "met" her online so far).

Jennifer R. Hubbard said...

So proud of our Violets!

Sarah Stevenson said...

Thanks so much for posting about my book! I'm proud to be a Violet. :) And great photo with Cindy, too. May I steal it for my Facebook page?

Lisa, you did an amazing job! You looked very poised. Great tips, too. I recently did a radio interview, and that was nervewracking enough, even though all I did was speak with them by phone! A TV interview would really make me want to run and hide.

Cheryl Renee Herbsman said...

Yay, Lisa! You did great :D

cindy said...

robin, you calling me some sort of social buffer made me laugh out loud. haha! i'm def not shy and don't mind these type of events, but i always prefer a smaller intimate setting for friends and also for book stuff. it just feels more personal. i like that kind of connecting.

sarah, i saw that we had similar colors on too. hoorah! i can't wait to read your novel. a signing at ala is very exciting. congrats.

speaking of pros, lisa schroeder was the one i followed around as she basically mowed her way through ala chicago knowing exactly what she was doing. (opposed to me, who had no idea, haha!) i was so impressed! and so glad i somehow attached myself like an amoeba. =D

you did wonderfully on that tele interview. thanks for the great tips. and congrats on It's Raining Cupcakes!!

laurasalas said...

Great job, Sarah and Lisa! BOth these books are in my TBR pile and I can't wait to get to them.

Lisa, you did awesome on the TV interview. Much more poised and coherent than I can imagine being!

Kimberley Griffiths Little said...

Great job, Lisa! I did a TV segment for a local station several years ago in Bloomfield Michigan while I was there doing school visits. But it was a spur-of-the-moment interview with a camera on me and a guy asking questions (I did get to sit down) - although it was after a long day of 4 presentations - but it actually went really well. Maybe because I didn't have time to think about it too much and get freaked out! I've also done a few radio shows and have another one coming up (local with the University) in about a month.

For me, lots of deep breathing and praying helps! :-)

Lindsey Leavitt said...

Lisa is so amazing, nervous or not. I think another tip from her would be to at least APPEAR calm, because I sure bought it!
I had to do a TV interview when my first book debuted in a city I had never visited. I walked in, they sat me down on a couch to "chat", and when we were on commercial break I turned to the interviewer and said, "Wait, so what do I do? Where do I look? What are you going to ask me?"
And then they started counting down and... it just started. And I survived. And I broke Lisa's rule of not making jokes, because that's what I do when I'm nervous. I don't know how high profile authors do that again and again. I break out into a sweat THINKING about it!

Sherrie Petersen said...

Great interview, Lisa! You didn't look nervous at all! Thanks for posting it on here for us to see :)

liz michalski said...

Great interview, Lisa! You definitely looked calm and relaxed. I watched it with my 9-year-old daughter and she can't wait to read the book. :)

This is perfect timing for me -- I'm doing an interview with a local show in 2 weeks. Maybe I should see if Cindy is available to come with me!