The Author Interview: How, Why, What, Who?

I love to interview authors, publishers, illustrators, cover artists, proof readers, agents, editors. I think you get the picture. If they are involved with the book business then I want to talk to them. I’ve learned a lot as an author along the way and I’m taking notes as I go. I’m not here today to talk about those notes I’ve taken. All the interviews are there to read and I’ll likely compile a few things at some point, knowing me, and share them with you.

Today I want to discuss what Authors should do with an interview, and also how they should interview.

the_author_interview.jpgI’ve done research about how to interview. In other words, what questions should I ask. Well, I actually came up with my own questions after getting a feel for what was going on. I won’t get into my technique because it’s my technique. It’s not that I think it’s a great technique about what I do or how I do, but it’s mine and it’s changing as I write this.

Remember the purpose of the Interview

  • Profile Snap Shot Questions-Maybe 5 things about you.
  • Book Promotion such as Book Blog Tour-Let’s say, 10 questions mostly about your book.
  • Interview about you and your work-No real limit, minimum or maximum. But this is one that is more to give the reader a good impression of who you are personality wise and good detail about your work. This is the one that is to make them connect with you, become your friend, and become your book buying fan.

As I get into details here, just know these are my opinions. I have been thinking of these details for some time though so they are not just quickly put together for an article.

Each type of Interview will determine how you, the Author, might answer. The shorter the interview the more precise your answers and the longer the interview, the more conversational you want to sound. Looking at the number of questions I noted above for each type of interview you can almost see the urgency to be efficient in your use of words without straying off topic.

At the moment I do the Long Form Interview because I enjoy them, and I want every Author that wants an interview to have a good interview of length to turn to when an agent or publisher asks about publicity. And the long form is the type of interview I will discuss today.

For authors I have already interviewed I will be asking some follow up questions in the future for some short form blurb type posts to continue their presence here on LWI and to have one more item out there for their name to show up in when agents or publishers search for them.

What is your goal in a long form interview?

This really depends on the questions you are asked, what you have agreed to. My interviews are all encompassing.

My first piece of advice is-Read through all of the questions before you start answering, if this is an interview where you are sent the questions, such as the way I do it. I would like to do interviews differently in the future so they are more organic, but in truth, the email interview keeps things focused.

Reasons for reading all the questions first

  • You don’t want to include information one place that you will be including elsewhere. Yes, repetition is fine, but save yourself the headache of repeating yourself, and your interviewer from having to edit down for space limitations. LWI is my site. So I have no set limits, but the longer your interview the greater the possibility of losing the reader, especially with repetition.
  • You will get an idea of how the interview is set up and the flow of it and that might help you get into the mood of the interview.
  • This gives you time to think about the questions instead of that feel of needing to jump right in. For those interviewing with me there is no deadline. When I get the answers I then put them on the calendar for the next open date unless the Author has some date that is beneficial to them.

 What is my purpose as an interviewer when giving you certain questions?

  1. To discuss your book that has just been released or is about to be released.
  2. Note previous work
  3. Note the book you are working on for the next release
  4. Show your personality
  5. Show your professionalism
  6. Promote you

Those are not in any particular order. If they were, number 6 would be number 1. And know this when you hand over your answers to me I am going to take them and try to make you look like the most interesting person possible. Know that an interviewer edits. I don’t change words unless it is a grammar thing. And no, I don’t leave the wrong spelling in there and note it for the world to see. I even have someone on staff I can turn to that edits for me to make sure that we both look good. Of course I have to ask her to do it. But then she reads the interview anyway and I get these chat messages saying “Oh Ronovan, did you really mean to spell that word like that?”  “Oh Ronovan, are you really a grammatical idiot?” And yes, yes I am. I think proof readers and editors should be assured of jobs security.

In order to engage a reader I like to create a conversation.

But there have been times that it’s been impossible because I wasn’t given enough to use, so I simply put the questions and answers in an article and put it out there. However, there are some authors who give me what I need and help themselves. If you ask me for an interview, just know that the more you give me the better your interview will turn out. I don’t mean a book, but not one sentence answers either.

 When I send out my questions and the information email I suggest what one should do.

  • Answer the questions like you would in a conversation.
  • Have some fun.
  • Show your personality.
  • Be yourself.

For those who give me that I can create a nice interview. Again, I am not going to go into detail about what I do. If you read the interviews here on LWI you can see which ones really work. All give good answers. Don’t get me wrong. They all answer the questions with the right answers, it’s just that some loosen up and just put it out there honest and like they were talking to their best friend.

It might be that people are worried what they see will make them look bad or someone will use what they say against them. I guess you do need to watch out for that. I personally don’t do that. You can ask any Author I’ve interviewed and they will tell you I am as honest and trustworthy as you get and I’ll make you look as good as I can. Sometimes people will give an answer that I know just doesn’t sound right. I know it’s going to come across wrong. I’ll send an email asking for perhaps another take on it or I will just leave it out. My job is to make YOU look good. Regardless of if I approached you or You approached me for the interview, once we both say yes then my job is to promote you. If I do a hatchet job on you then why would anyone else want to interview with me?

How do you know what an interviewer wants?

Check out their other interviews. See what their style is. You don’t have to say yes if someone asks you.

Who to Interview With

I feel a bit odd answering this one, as I am an interviewer but in truth I am an author first. Check interviews, talk to authors they have interviewed if you have concerns. Most interviewers should be fine. But before saying yes check things out. Unless it is with me, just say yes.

How to get an Interview

You might be asked or you can ask someone who interviews. Some might have how to approach them on their site. I rarely get approached for interviews and to be honest it gets a bit exhausting searching down and approaching authors. But my goal is to help whomever I can, so the search goes on.

 What to do with the interview?

  1. Link to it on your own site
  2. Include it in any publicity packet you send to potential agents or other publicity opportunities
  3. Share it in Social Media. Let me tell you this. Don’t Tweet it to death. Use it once a day at the most and that should be around 12:30 New York Time. And have other things going on in between the Tweets. Also change up how you Tweet it with different wording. Why? People will start skipping over things that look like it and might miss a new Interview, a new book, or a sale you have running
  4. Use excerpts from the review. Meaning use quotes from the interview in some promotional way

Finally and Most Importantly

Come back to the person that interviewed you! If you were happy with them and they were happy with you, there is a promotional relationship there waiting to happen. I personally want to keep the people I’ve interviewed as friends. Currently I’ve interviewed 29 people that have appeared here on Lit World Interviews. At some point I intend to take time off from writing on LWI and check up on them, seeing what they are doing and checking all their sites for any new promotions. Although I encourage authors to let me know when any new promotion is going on, I know I will be forgotten. But I don’t forget, well I actually have Retrograde amnesia and Short Term Memory problems due to a concussion but hey, it just makes note taking that much more important.

 

Until next time, I hope this helps,

Ronovan

Ron_LWI

 

 

 

 

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13 thoughts on “The Author Interview: How, Why, What, Who?”

  1. Good Morning Ronovan,

    Excellent advice. I am new to the ‘Interview’ part of being an Author. I have actually done only two in the past ten years. The first one, a video (Skype) with Authors TV (Interviewer in Phoenix, I in Miami Shores), and the hookup was terrible, it is still on YouTube, I believe. The other was with Chris Graham of The Story Reading Ape. I am very much looking forward to your questions and hopefully I will be a good subject for you.

    I certainly appreciate you taking your time away from Writing to assist your writing colleagues in promoting their works.

    Best regards,

    Michael Phelps

    Liked by 1 person

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