Authors: You Don’t Have to Answer Every Question When Doing Media

Authors: You Don’t Have to Answer Every Question When Doing Media

Ha! You’ve landed an interview on your book; you’ve prepped, only to discover that they person interviewing you is clueless. The odds are that they have not read your book–the back cover, yes; flaps, yes–their producer has supplied the questions that will come your way.

Or, they have their own agenda. What to do?

Your answer: Why take control, that’s what you do!

Remember growing up, you were told to answer any question an adult asked you? With the media–forget it. Authors need, no must, learn how to deflect a question when appropriate.

How about:

You: If I understand your question correctly, you’re really asking is/if …

Now, give your take—it doesn’t matter if it’s not directly connected.

You: Your question triggers another I need to address first …

Take this and run with it.

You:That question just may not have an answer. My take on it is …

Have fun … what is your take?

You: The answer to that question just might be too off the wall for some—what I’ve found (in my studies, interviews, research, etc.

Yes … tell them.

Sometimes there’s an ulterior motive—the interviewer may have a personal problem around your topic. One time I was in NY and learned that the person interviewing me had been demoted because of the behavior I was discussing in my book! If you are unclear, simply say.

You: That’s really interesting … why do you ask?

Let her respond, then restate and loop back to your book, your expertise.

If the interviewer has info wrong or facts incorrect, acknowledge it and state what needs to be corrected. If it’s said that you are an expert in a certain field, and you are not, correct it immediately—don’t let it slide. One time, I was on Geraldo and he announced to the audience that I was an expert in why women steal other women’s boyfriends! You’ve got to be kidding, me? As soon so as I responded to a question, I immediately let all know that’s not what my expertise was. And, if you find yourself in a situation that makes you uncomfortable, don’t be afraid to end the interview—I’ve done it several times … it’s called the wrong fit.

When you are asked a zinger (and it happens) or an off-the-wall question, have some fun—humor is your ally–use it to deflect a question tossed at you—don’t forget to smile when you respond:

You: Wow … what a zinger of a question … do you want to create a minor uproar and get me into deep doo-doo?

Just say anything you want to … as in, “When I did …”

You: That’s amazing … did you run a contest to come up with the most outrageous question?

Then reference it slightly, but lead to where you want to make your key points.

You: You’d need a Ph.D. in Trivia to handle that one … let’s look at it closer …

Now, take it and twist how you want it to support your book.

Remember … you are MAKING their show sing on your stuff. Don’t be passive and ever so polite. Miss Manners may approve, but not in the book marketing game. You are an expert. An interesting person. An amazing author. If the host gets side-tracked, swing it back to what you want to talk about.

Phone interviews are always easy—you don’t have to dress and you have your notes to refer to. It’s smart to be able to move around, adds energy to your voice, you can use your hands … and don’t forget to smile. Having a mirror on your desk can help to remind you to.

When it comes to live TV—always wear “your” colors, what looks best on you—don’t forget, you need makeup, even men.

Finally, have fun. Make sure you have a copy of your book with you and that the host references where it can be purchase … and you should as well. If you are speaking locally, reference it; if you have a book signing, reference it; if you have some hot tips on your website on the topic, reference it. Remember … this is pitch, and information time.

Judith Briles is known as The Book Shepherd ( and the Founder of Author U (niversity (, a membership organization created for the serious author who wants to be seriously successful. She’s been writing about and conducting workshops on publishing since the 80s. She’s the author of 28 books including Show Me About Book Publishing, co-written with John Kremer and Rick Frishman and a speaker at publishing conferences. If you want to create a book that has no regrets, contact her at


  If you are looking for FREE author and book coaching … call in to Judith’s Author Monday Mornings at NOON Eastern each Monday. The number is 218-632-9854; Access Code 1239874444 … have your questions ready–there’s a full hour to ask and listen.

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