What NOT To Do In A Conference Call Interview

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I had the opportunity to engage in a conference-type phone interview to be eventually televised on PBS through the brain child of David Ewen and his site www.yourworlddiscovered.com.  If you are an author and interested in this project which is still on-going, do check out his site.

While I had vetted the questions the night before in preparation of not sounding ignorant on air, the one question which stymied me was, of course, the one thrown over the verbal net to hit me broadside.

conferenceTo top off this daze I had had only three hours sleep the night before due to my ever ready bunny fueled by his Alzheimer like symptoms.  If batteries could harness the unending sleeplessness of a person with dementia, the whole world would be alight.

The question asked, {prefaced by the statement – “Authors have used traditional media such as feature articles in newspapers, book signings, and radio interviews by phone.” } –    Why does this work?   When does it not work?   What has it done for you?

Even my answer – “I have found more in social sites on the Internet in becoming known.  My home life at this time precludes my doing too much in the way of book signings though I have done some and most of my radio interviews by phone have been to promote my on line business rather than my books.  One must know the rules of marketing to get anywhere – I have been marketing for less than a year and still have much to learn.” was not given in it’s entirety.

I do not normally freeze up when asked a question be it in private, public, small or large company because I’ve experienced being put on the spot, so to speak, and my family has always considered me to be a bit, no, actually a lot, of a ham.  I have produced, written skits, filmed, been filmed, and edited both in the print and the television media so why did my brain and tongue tango out the door?  The three hours sleep? – I’m always sleep deprived and somewhat demented myself; no, that was not the problem.  I had not done much talking that morning because I had told my husband I needed quiet because all background noise would be picked up and the need for editing out.   Since he and I worked as a team doing filming and editing, this was an understood concept.

We have four rescued dogs who are the inspiration for my book series, The Chronicles of The K-9 Boys and Girls on Locus Street with Mandy The Alpha Dog being the first book in the series.  My husband likes to interact with these self same characters and Mandy being his most frequent playmate or target depending on the time frame is also the most yappy of the group.  As she would say,  “How else am I to keep them all in line?”  Hearing the dogs clearly speak on many subjects, I suppose, is my dementia.

There was time for brewing coffee and taking the cup down to the computer area which is located all of 15 feet away from the bedroom area.  Surrounded by my stock of gently read pre-owned books I sell on Paul and Paula’s Plaza Inc.com;  the deafening lack of sound lulled me into listening to the questions put to and the answers by the other participants; agreeing with or, jotting down more ways of marketing.   Since there was not a set sequence for who spoke on a topic, each of us authors did not know what question would be asked and as questions were repeated, odds were anything goes when it was ‘your’ or since I’m writing this, my turn.

I could tell you what sells the best and probably even why.  Through my experience as a library circulation clerk and the ‘Circulation Desk’ for my library system where I got to send and receive books from all over the world, re-selling books on line, and number one in my mind, being a voracious reader for over sixty years { I started reading practically in the cradle}, I think that question would have been easier for me to answer.

By far, the genre few wish to admit is their addiction, is the biggest seller.  “Well what?’ you ask.  Romance.  Some like it cold, some like it hot but the majority of readers want it somewhere in their pile of books.  Years ago, my husband asked me why I read romances because he felt I certainly was ‘getting enough’ at home.  Men do not understand the difference between sex and romance; well, at least, my man didn’t.  Yeah, the sex was good – still is when it happens, but the romance was lacking.  With today’s books, it is hard to find a story WITHOUT a sex scene.  The change over happened sometime during the time span I was heavily involved in my career and raising children; a wasteland of time when my reading was limited; but I at least, did have that glorious sex.

Digressed again!  Back to those questions that I didn’t get to answer.

Who is your favorite author?  Why?
I read fast, I read a lot, I have many interests so my answer reflected my ADD position  – “That depends upon the genre – I have favorites {not just one} in any given genre BUT the author I admire the most in his overall presentation from the writing to the marketing is James Patterson.

James Patterson has a background in Advertising;  if you want to be a best selling author – advertising is number one on your list of things ‘to do’ and that’s before you publish.  I have read all of his books even the ones with alternate titles and endings though now I see only one of his listed as being such in his title listing pages.  His earliest book was more involved and a much slower read but he has honed the technique of hitting the ground running hard towards the cliffhanger at the end of his chapter which may not be longer than two pages double spaced, grabbing your collar as you hurl into his next chapter which is more of the same.

He has written unconventional romances plus the romance he laces in and out of his back stories featured in his different series books; and then of course, he has his stand alone books and his non fiction.  My type of guy – author –  he is prolific, helps unknown but good writers to come into the spotlight, has a myriad of interests as his books reflect, and most of all, his writing reflects today and its fast paced sound bites.  His short chapters allow no time for boredom and when I read his latest, I stick only with the one book because he is my only indulgence for that evening.  Normally, I have three books going at any given time where I read three to four chapters thus alleviating abandonment of a book.  This is not to say said book is boring; my attention span is short so reading like this gives me a win-win; I read more of what I want entertainment wise and the third book is always on what I must read in a category I am interested in such as Marketing or to be more precise, right now: Marketing on Line.

As to the question of “What are the special skills a writer has to become an author?  What really works?”  The answers to this question really brought a smile to my lips.  Learn all you can about writing and techniques including proper usage, grammar, punctuation, etc.  were the answers.

I  see the lack of this as a paramount problem in today’s society of texting, Madison Avenue advertising with Lite and Brite, pushing ahead in school with no thought to skills but more on behavior; and finally having those children grow into illiterate adults who must go for remedial help.  My brother and sister {twins}, twelve years my junior being taught phonics exclusively thus unable to read even a newspaper geared to the 10th grade student of that day.  That fortunately was a fast passing fancy but still too many got caught up in this net and to this day have problems with reading.  Today’s texting may very well be a pseudo language of tomorrow or have it’s use in replacing the Gregg Shorthand as it {Gregg} had replaced Pitman Shorthand.

My answer actually was somewhat along those lines – know what you are capable of writing and make sure your words are the ones that you mean to use – do not rely on spell check – if you use the wrong there {they’re, their}, or to {too, two}, or any other homophone in writing, the literate reader will pick up on it even if you miss it.   {This is especially crucial if  you’re your own editor}.  I would also add, intimately know your target audience and what they like to read.

Go to your local library and scan shelves, then go to the catalog which is now more than likely computerized and check the prolificacy of authors – read their books,  what works for that genre and become so familiar with your subject, your writing flows.  If you do not have a passion for writing or a passion for the subject, it is time to change your direction either into another genre or profession or another time.  I wrote here and there throughout the years but did not seriously think of writing for the general public until recently when I was forced into retirement due to illness.  When my body refuses to work but my mind is curious and my fingers tingle to type, writing becomes a God send for sanity.  That’s passion.

Another question which really brings us into the future is  ‘What books are best as an e book and what are best as a traditional paper book.’

I believe that all tools to make one’s load lighter is to be embraced so as I see it, any and all books can go into either venue.  Right now, only the B&N e reader is in color so the translation of my children’s books on to any other e book such as the Kindle would need be in black and white – in fact, Mandy The Alpha Dog is slated to go e book form early this year to be put on Kindle and Google.  I have the other books in the series presently on Bookrix.com for reading as free until I add to each story and make available for the Kindle on Amazon.  They will also go into a black and white picture form at that time because they are presently in color.

I would love to see textbooks and the ilk, books that are difficult physically to deal with put onto e book form but yet have books go into print form as well for the many who cannot or will not consider books unless they can feel and smell the printer’s ink.

And for all you young or young at heart people who want to be an author don’t quit your day job but do pursue with a passion what you want to say through the written word and, please, please, please know your limitations if it be in grammar or spelling – if you have money hire someone with knowledge to help you polish your work before submission.  If you do not have the money, then learn how to do things correctly before submission.  Do not become discouraged at rejection but rather use it to polish your manuscript into submission before submission.  There is an audience for your work – you need to find it and find it before you’re published.

The reason my mind and tongue tangoed out the door was because upon speaking, I was startled by my frog in a deep well or better known as the wake up voice that accompanies the bed hair.  Who knows if that perfect time of serenity: dogs mute, husband quietly watching television while I engage in phone interviewing will again appear but I can add ‘warm up voice along with the coffee before starting to speak’ on my ‘to do’ list.

1 Comment
  1. Ginia says

    I really enjoyed this Paula, thanks!

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