- The author is so hopelessly delighted to be interviewed that he/she will eventually say anything
- The journalist will talk to the author for an hour or more, during which time the author will probably have spoken 8,000 words, of which the journalist only needs 20.
- Do it - almost never say no to an interview unless you're so successful you don't care
- Be aware that the reporter, however kind she seems and is, knows the story she wants to write and she will go all out to get you to say the thing that supports her story.
- Ask her to tell you in advance what line she's interested in and what areas she wants to cover
- If there are things you don't want her to ask about, SAY so very very clearly, or say it's "off the record" - point out that printing such a thing would cause distress to family members, particularly younger ones. I have always refused to talk about my kids other than to state their age and gender.
- She will leave out 98% of what you say and just include the 2% she wants. Therefore, simply do not say anything you don't want said.
- If you accidentally say something you wish you hadn't, explain that it would be misleading and untrue to record your erroneous comment. "Off the record" ought to be honoured and nearly always is.
- Do not fill a silence - that's for her to do. Less is less and less is best. Say too much and it will be paraphrased, often weirdly.
- If your family don't want to be in the pics or talked about, make that clear
- Talk about your book a lot, much more than the background stuff that she wants
- Talk about your book again
- Prepare in advance a very succinct and memorable way of answering these two heart-sinking questions a) so, what's it about then, this book? b) why did you write it? [When I say memorable, I mean memorable in a printable way ...]
- Smile and be friendly; offer cake; be human and lovely. She'll still shaft** you if she wants to but she'll feel worse about it. But don't gush and flutter - be professional. Appear to have done this loads of times before.
- Think about how you dress - you can dress any way you want, but think about it. How do you want the journo to remember you? The fab shoes? The clean open-necked shirt? The greasy hair and non-designer stubble? Soup on cleavage?
- Realise that however you are quoted in the article, you will probably cringe when you read it afterwards anyway
- And remember that even if you end up being uncomfortable about how the article comes out, no one else will remember the negative bits - they'll just remember you and your book
**Edited to add a PS re "shafted" - quite right Flixton Mum, that was a cruel word for me to use! But I only said "if she wants to", and of course there are hardly any journalists who would twist your words maliciously, unless you had behaved very unpleasantly in the interview ...
And that pretty much sums up dealing with newspaper interviews. Are you ready for the Bloggoffee Day tomorrow? Get baking.