Wednesday, August 20, 2008

How to Survive Your Freshman Year: Interviewing Stories by Yadin Kaufmann & Mark Bernstein

Today we welcome Mark Bernstein and Yadin Kaufmann, the editors of the best-selling college life guide How to Survive Your Freshman Year, a Hundreds of Heads book.

How to Survive Your Freshman Year was compiled from interviews with hundreds of students at over 120 colleges across the country, and includes the latest advice and tips straight from students. The book is sure to help freshmen get off to a great start in college, armed with the experience of hundreds of others who have "been there, done that." The book also helps parents better understand how their teens can survive and thrive in college, and makes for a great high school graduation gift.

The book’s Special Editor, academic advisor and instructor Frances Northcutt, adds expert advice, guidance and insightful commentary.

How to Survive Your Freshman Year gives students great advice on:

• Getting off to a great start in college
• What to take
• Where to live
• How to get a good roommate
• Dorm Life
• Choosing classes
• When and where to study
• Exams secrets
• Filling free time
• The dating and party scene
• Finances, and
• Choosing a major

I asked Yadin and Mark to provide us with some interviewing stories from their work on the Hundreds of Heads books. Here's what they had to say:


I'm a big fan of recruiting people to interview by using the Internet, eavesdropping on strangers' conversations in cafes (and politely interrupting depending on the subject matter), and by posting signs in random locations, like my gym locker room.

I end up connecting with so many interesting people who I would otherwise not have access to. I've been contacted by teenagers who wanted their voices to be heard in the 'How to Survive Your Teenager' book, a former prisoner from the county jail who discussed all the reflective time he had (I suppose in his cell) after his divorce, and I've seen more close-ups of strangers delivering their babies than I expected to when I put out the call for the 'How to Survive Your Pregnancy' title.

A couple of stories:

1) My roommate walked by my computer and gasped, "I thought you were interviewing people!" I didn't know why she was so confused, until I realized that my screen displayed a glossy close up of a woman in labor. This was one of many photos I have received from women who I've asked about pregnancy!

I've found that the kind of women who respond to my questions for 'HOW TO SURVIVE YOUR PREGNANCY', are different. They tend to be very caring, proud and open - they are mothers, after all!

2) I called a guy I met on-line to interview him for 'HOW TO SURVIVE DIVORCE'. Within a few minutes, he started to interview me. He wanted to know my age and my interests. I soon realized he was trying to gage whether or not he and I would be a good match. Eeeck!

3) I've gotten the biggest response when I've asked for people to tell me how they survived their divorce. I've thought about why this may be...perhaps it's cathartic to write about their experiences, and it probably crystallizes many things for them. I also think that it's a relief that they are ASKED to talk about their divorce. I imagine many people don't know what to say to them. After all, there's no Hallmark card to comfort someone through this painful process. For many who have gone through a divorce, it's nice to have someone ask them to share their story and their advice. For this reason, I've really enjoyed working on this title...
Andrea Syrtash
Toronto, ONT
HH since fall '04

This past June our Chief Headhunter, Jamie Allen, suggested that in order to collect more interviews we might want to give cold-calling a try. I’m shy by nature, but I had only been on the job for a few months and thought I’d give it a go to keep the boss happy.

So one day I packed up my notebook, pen and a copy of the only book in the series that was out at the time-"How To Survive Your Freshman Year"-and headed across the border from my home in Western Pennsylvania and into Ohio. The first town of any size I came to was East Palestine. It looked perfect.

I parked the car and began walking up and down the main streets of the little town randomly stopping people on their way to work or to the bakery or to the corner store to buy a newspaper and asking if I could interview them for a new and exciting book series. But the people were less than excited. I quickly changed my approach shortening my pitch and promising an interview that would last a mere five minutes. Ten tops.

But most people still politely declined. My confidence and eagerness began to fade. I started to lose hope. Then I met mailman Bill.

I had walked out of the ‘downtown’ and into a residential area hoping to find people watering their lawns or washing their cars-environments where it would be more difficult for them to simply wave me off and walk away. But no one seemed to be out on this glorious July morning. I was ready to head back to the more populated area of town when I spotted mailman Bill working his way toward me from the other end of the street. When in doubt ask a federal employee, I thought. So I approached Bill with my usual pitch about how I was interviewing for a new publishing company that was putting out a series of books in which regular people would give advice to people in need on topics like surviving your baby, marriage, etc.

Bill said he really couldn’t stop to talk but that I was welcome to tag along while he delivered the mail. I accepted. I quickly found out that not only did Bill qualify to speak on most of the topics I was seeking interviewees for, but that he was actually full of good advice. Unfortunately he was also full of rage. At practically every home we stopped to deliver bills and ads and birthdays cards from Grandma, Bill had some, um, less than kind things to say about the homeowners. This guy never cuts his grass. There are always toys blocking the walk at this place. This lady’s dog drives me crazy with the constant barking. This guy never shovels his walk. On that last one I had to use my imagination seeing that the temperatures were already in the low 80s and climbing. On another day I might have thanked Bill for his time and got going while the going was good. The term ‘going postal’ kept darting in and out of my head. But the thing was, Bill was actually a very good interview. And on a day where that animal was in short supply I felt a need to keep listening…and hoping Bill wouldn’t completely blow his top.

We made it to the end of the block with my notebook full of Bill’s nuggets of wisdom and Bill’s blood pressure still (marginally) below the boiling point. I shook his hand and thanked him for all his help. I finished out the day, drove home and parked the car. Then I starting moving all my kids’ toys out of the walkway.
Ken McCarthy
HH since summer '04

1. I interviewed a lady who is a spokesperson for NutriSystem. As I usually do, I asked if she could put me in touch with anyone else who might like to share tips for the book. Someone from the company emailed and asked if I'd like to talk with Zora Andrich, the winner of the first Joe Millionaire TV show!

My husband and I had watched every episode of that show, rooting for Zora the whole time, so I was excited--and nervous--to talk with her. To my delight, when I interviewed Zora, she was just as down-to-earth and friendly as she seemed on the show. She was so at ease, I felt like I had known her for years. Best of all, Zora was very grateful to be a part of the book and share her experiences and advice with women who had struggled, as she had, with weight.

2. After submitting a query about the diet book on a journalism web site called ProfNet, I received a reply from Daphne Budge from Utah. She's part of a weight loss support group for a company out there. Daphne set up a conference call for me to interview not one, not two, but 13 women! The call was chaotic, and very fun. The women joked and bounced ideas off of each other, and my biggest challenge was keeping all of the voices straight. "Who's this?" I had to ask a few times. It was one of the most fun interviews I've ever had.
Jennifer Bright Reich
HH since spring '04

Last spring and summer (when the weather was nice and it was high tourist season in San Francisco), I would take my daughter, who was then about 6-12 months old, to some of the hot spots in Golden Gate Park. We would just be lying out on a blanket, snacking, or crawling around. Not to be too biased, but she’s a real cutie, and she’s also extremely friendly with strangers. She was a sure-fire conversation starter, and I would “just happen” to have a copy of a book, some release forms, and a paper-and-pen with me. I met people from around the country that way and got lots of good stories. Unfortunately, this technique stopped working once she got really good at crawling and then started walking, because now it’s impossible to have an extended conversation with anybody, as I spend my time running after her trying to stop her from picking flowers, poking babies, and stealing other children’s balls.
Kazz Regelman
San Francisco, California
HH since spring of '04

HOW TO SURVIVE YOUR FRESHMAN YEAR VIRTUAL BOOK TOUR '08 will officially begin on August 4, 2008 and continue all month. You can visit the authors' tour stops at in August to find out more about them and their book!

As a special promotion for all our authors, Pump Up Your Book Promotion is giving away one FREE virtual book tour to a published author with a recent release or a $25 Amazon gift certificate to those not published who comments on our authors' blog stops. More prizes will be announced as they come available. One winner will be announced on our tour blog on August 31!

This virtual book tour has been brought to you by:

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