Robin Kall, host of the hit radio show, Reading with Robin, on the air on WHJJ for just shy of ten years, has hosted dozens of successful author events. She’s interviewed authors Jennifer Wiener, Jodi Picoult, Alice Hoffman, Tom Perrotta, Jane Green and Ann Hood, as well as nonfiction authors (with FUN themes, she points out) Martha Brockenbrough, author of the grammar hit Things That Make Us [Sic], Amy Dickinson, author of The Mighty Queens of Freeville and Henry Alford, author of Would it Kill You to Stop Doing That. Jill Smokler, author of Scary Mommy is on the show this week.
Robin has also hosted up-and-coming talent, giving newer authors a chance to reach a large audience. She’s had hundreds of people at her author events, many events selling out. I know many of my readers would love to know how to attract such opportunities and I asked Robin for her advice.
Lisa: Robin, what do you look for in hosting an author for an event?
Robin: I’m most comfortable with authors I’ve had on the show or if I’ve been to an event of theirs to get a sense of how the audience will react. When I put my name on an event I take it very seriously. Our time is so precious and I want to learn and be entertained so that’s what I strive for.
Lisa: So, one thing my readers can do is host an event and invite radio show hosts like Robin so these hosts can see you in action.
Lisa: What’s your secret to successful author events?
Robin: After ten years of doing this I have quite a network of readers and once book people get hold of an author event, well, you can just imagine how the excitement spreads!
Lisa: Robin, does it help to know that an author will help promote?
Robin: Absolutely. Authors and their publicity departments are best served by participating in the process of spreading the word for events and radio interviews—by posting to their web sites and with social media, tweeting and Facebook posting. When I plan an event I reach out to everyone. Authors who think their “team” is getting all of the info out there are mistaken (for the most part): as in everything, the more we advocate for ourselves, the better.
Lisa: Tell us about some of your upcoming events…
Robin: On April 1, Wendy Mogel, author The Blessing of a Skinned Knee and The Blessing of a B Minus at Temple Beth El in Providence so we have plenty of room and reservations are going strong. On April 12, Adriana Trigiani is at West Valley Inn with room for 400 plus and that will sell-out for sure! The info is on the Reading with Robin Website home page on the lower right. I’m hearing from so many of her CT, MA and RI fans! And October 12 we have an event at a larger venue—the Crown Plaza in Warwick with authors Chris Bohjalian, Elizabeth Berg and Amanda Eyre Ward.
Lisa: Let’s talk about the upcoming Wendy Mogel event. What captivated you about Wendy and her books to bring her in as a speaker?
Robin: Wendy’s common sense approach to raising children by allowing them to make mistakes resonated with me years ago when I read The Blessing of a Skinned Knee. I wasn’t able to see her when she came to the Lincoln School for an author event years ago, so I was excited to see her talk about her new book, which speaks to the craziness that has taken over high school and the college application process, where parents often approach the process as if they were the ones applying. Wendy is refreshing, smart and really funny. Wait ‘til you see the reaction she receives at her talks!
Lisa: I loved her parenting books—I can see how she’d be an engaging speaker.
Robin: Wendy brings the conversation back to the way our grandparents likely thought of child rearing and education—good old-fashioned wisdom while taking into consideration all of the new technology and challenges we face today.
Lisa: Any tips for authors for doing events?
Robin: See where your book fits in, in terms of fundraising or raising awareness: That can make for a great partnership and it helps to pull an audience from several lists. Start out smaller with ‘salon’ type events—like the first one I did in my home. This gets the networking started and the next time you want to do it, you have a list. Plus if it was wonderful salon attendees will spread the word for the next one.
Lisa: Any tips on radio?
Robin: Send out press releases to radio shows but first know a little something about the show. I get requests sent blindly. Maybe 1 in 25 will peak my interest. I do try to pass those along to other hosts if I think it’s a fit. Make it personal. Spend a little time on the host’s site. This can go a long way in a world of big competition. Even if you think it’s a long shot, a show might be a better fit for your book than you think. Creativity and thick skin may sound cliché but are key to successfully landing interviews.
For more information on Robin’s upcoming author events go to her Reading with Robin website.
I’m getting ready to publicize my upcoming book The Algebra of Snow and found this a very useful blog post. I’m an experienced writer but not an experienced marketer, and it’s required these days to do both! Thanks, Lisa & Robin, for the good information.