Erotica Readers & Writers Association Blog

Friday, November 27, 2009

"Shameless" Tips on Radio Interview Queries

This month, in my last installment of Shameless Self-Promotion, I discuss the pleasures and challenges of appearing on radio shows to promote your novel. I’m including two of my sample queries here for your reference. The first is geared to a more high-brow host.

Dear Ms. X,

Ms. Y suggested I get in touch with you about a possible interview on “Book Talk” about my new novel, Amorous Woman, and other US-Japan intercultural issues related to the book.

Amorous Woman was published by Orion in the UK as part of their Neon line of literary erotica and was released in the US in May 2008. The novel was inspired by Ihara Saikaku’s 17th century Japanese erotic classic, The Life of an Amorous Woman. Intrigued by Saikaku’s picaresque, but emotionally complex tale, I decided to translate it into the modern story of an American woman’s experiences in Japan during its economic “bubble.” I’m a Princeton graduate with a Ph.D. in Japanese literature, and I’ve lived in Japan for several years. Amorous Woman is my first novel, although I’ve also published nearly a hundred literary and erotic stories and essays and my work received special mention in Pushcart Prize Stories 2004.

I’ve appeared on five radio shows including Ellen Shehadeh’s “View Point” on KWMR in Point Reyes Station, Denny Smithson’s “Cover to Cover” on KPFA in Berkeley and also read another literary essay for KQED’s “Writer’s Block” in San Francisco. In interviews I’ve discussed US-Japan cultural stereotypes such as the myths of the submissive geisha and the samurai salaryman, the historical and literary background of the novel, my definitions of erotica versus porn, the paradoxical prejudice against erotica in a consumer environment saturated with sexual messages, and how an academic and self-acknowledged feminist came to “talk back to porn” with a woman-centered exploration of eroticism as a complex element of human experience.

I’ve attached a brief synopsis and sample reviews of the novel below. I’d be happy to provide you with a copy of the book, print interviews including one in the East Bay Monthly, and links to other radio interviews at your request.

Thank you very much for your consideration of my proposal. I look forward to hearing from you.

Of course, ideally each query should reflect the intended market and not all interviewers are so serious. For a show that focuses on entertainment, I emphasized the more humorous possibilities as you see in the excerpts below:

Amorous Woman (Orion Publishing in the UK/US release through Trafalgar Books on May 28, 2008) is my first novel. It’s about a woman’s love affair with Japan and her adventures with as many men and women as she could pack into her futon along the way. Based on a Japanese erotic classic known for its wit, the story is rather like “Sex and the City” meets Memoirs of a Geisha with some David Sedaris thrown in for good measure.

I have a Ph.D. in Japanese literature from Stanford and have taught Japanese at U.C. Berkeley and Stanford. I have over eighty publication credits, including stories and essays in Gettysburg Review, Wine Spectator, Best American Erotica 2006, Mammoth Book of Best New Erotica and Best Women’s Erotica. I’ve been featured in magazines in the UK, translated into Italian and received special mention in Pushcart Prize Stories 2004. As part of my promotional efforts, I’ve appeared on Ellen Shehadeh’s View Point on KWMR in Point Reyes Station and have held several in-person readings and discussions. Because of my academic background, I am comfortable with public speaking and Q&A sessions. I enjoy bringing a humorous slant to my topic as well as talking about Japan, a country that still fascinates me twenty-five years after I first visited.

During the interview, I would be able to:

Discuss US-Japan cultural stereotypes such as the myths of the submissive geisha and the samurai salaryman—do the Japanese have better sex than we do in those love hotel dungeon rooms? And what about those vending machines that sell women’s “used” panties?

Talk about how a Stanford Ph.D. came to write a dirty novel and thus endanger the reputations of academics everywhere

Relate which aspects of my heroine’s adventures really happened to me—yes, I did have a boyfriend with one sensitive nipple and a group encounter on a spring night in Kyoto, although not exactly the way it happened in the book

Explain my take on the difference between erotica and porn—erotica’s what I like and porn’s what you like, but I’ve got some other provocative answers, too

Describe how erotica can change our lives by encouraging the exploration of how sex feels, a radical act in a society that focuses on how sex looks

Discuss the obstacles I’ve faced promoting the books and the pleasures in connecting with readers

If you’ve ever sat in a college class wondering if your professor had a secret life, I’m here to say the answer is definitely yes!

I’ve attached a brief synopsis and sample reviews of the novel below. I’d be happy to provide you with a copy of the book and print interviews at your request.

Thank you very much for your consideration of my proposal. I look forward to hearing from you.

For both queries, I also attached the information from my sell sheet including a one-paragraph pitch and a few brief excerpts from my favorite reviews. Good luck with your queries and have fun on the show!

Find out more about Donna George Storey and her adventures in shameless self-promotion at her blog.

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