Making for an Ideal Interview

Putting together my own personal Smashwords interview, so it seemed a perfect post subject.

Maybe you’ve been giving thought to conducting author interviews, but have never done one and are wondering what’s what, where to start?

Why not begin with interviewing new authors?  Of course there’s nothing to stop you from approaching known names.  Be aware, though: with an established writer you’ll likely have to go through a publicist, publisher, or agent.  As the saying goes, though, the world is your/our oyster, so have at it: approach whomever you’re feeling passionate about.

How you conduct an interview is entirely up to you—do a standard blog or website interview, go for a podcast, or create an audio interview.  Work with the medium that [best] speaks to you.

Don’t send requests willy-nilly.  Become familiar with the author’s work.  Research.  Check out his/her blog and website.  Follow.  Know what’s happening by doing that due diligence.  Show the author you know your stuff.

Once you’ve connected, always be professional.  Include a list of questions when you submit a request for an interview.  As in anything, it’s nice to be prepared—for those on both sides of the fence.  Try to think of fresh/fun questions, ones that haven’t been asked 105 times.  Yes, you’d definitely want to inquire about their book, but see if you can do so from new angles.  If you’re stumped for questions, Google; there are hundreds of interview questions out there.  Play around with them.  Put a spin on them: yours.

How many questions should you ask?  It’s said seven to ten is a good number, with three intensive ones related specifically to the book.  Prompt detailed answers.

Once an author has agreed to an interview, ask him/her when it’s best to post it.  Maybe he/she has a time frame in mind re a book launch or promotion.  Announce on your blog/website and social media when that interview will be posted (and thank the author again, of course).

Speaking of the author’s featured book, it’s a good thing to have read it before the interview.  Sometimes, however, time is not our friend, so soak up everything you can about it on-line, including the press release if there happens to be one.

Don’t forget to include a photo of the author.  A tour banner and book cover are also good.  Take a gander at book-tour blogs to get an idea of how you might like your own to look.  Get creative/artsy, but not crazy (your site and interview should be attractive and readable).

Remembering that interviews—in a nutshell—are about sharing authors’ experiences and advice, current and/or future projects, and tours, ensure questions are relevant (though there’s no reason to ask the odd unrelated question).  On that note, here are 25 [thought-provoking] questions; do with them what you will.  WP2nd

⇒ What are common traps for aspiring writers?

⇒ How do other authors help you improve your craft?

⇒ Do you belong to any writers’ communities or groups?

⇒ When was the first time you realized you were destined to be a writer?

⇒ How did your first book transform your writing process?

⇒ It’s said writers have muses: tell us about yours.

⇒ Describe your writing style.

⇒ What’s the easiest part of writing?

⇒ Do you outline a plot beforehand or do you just “go with the flow” and let the idea take you where it may?

⇒ What sort of research and prep work do you do for your books?

⇒ What do you believe it takes to become a bestselling author?

⇒ What do you consider quintessential literary success?  Are you pleased with your success?

⇒ What are the best marketing / promotional practices for a book?

⇒ What did you edit from this current novel?

⇒ Which scene proved the most challenging to write?

⇒ Which characters did you like and hate the most?

⇒ Do you choose character names randomly?  Or do you select each carefully and, if so, how?  What’s your process?

⇒ If you weren’t a writer, what would you be and why?

⇒ How long, on average, does it take you to complete a novel—from first draft to final edit?

⇒ Have you ever thrown out any manuscripts?

⇒ If any of your books were to be adapted into a movie, which one would it be?

⇒ Which book of yours might you be tempted to rewrite?

⇒ What genres to you like reading?  Why?

⇒ If you were to opt for a new genre, which one would you go for?

⇒ What’s your next project and when might we see it?