Tips on doing a better author interview
As a way for authors to promote themselves, many blogger (including myself) offer author interviews. This is a chance for your readers – or potential readers – to get to know more about you as an author and to learn more about your book.
But in the five years that I have been interviewing authors, I would say about 40% of them struggle with the interview. It isn’t that I make it hard. I email them a list of questions and let them choose which ones they want to answer. It is the answering of the questions where they run into trouble.
Here are some of the problems…
Offer TOO Much Information – This is where they go on and on while answering a question. I can say, “Tell me about yourself” and they give me their whole bio instead of providing a few interesting facts.
Tip: Keep answers to a few sentences. No one wants to read long paragraphs.Offer TOO Little Information – Some authors go the other direction and give just one or two words answers. These answers give almost no insight into the author. I try not to have questions that can be answered with a yes or no. But instead of just saying “the library” is your favorite writing location expand on that and tell us why.
Tip: Write in complete sentences. And make your answer clear, concise and interesting (give us the reasons behind your decisions, if applicable).Forget the Interview Purpose – The purpose of the interview is not only to promote your book but to promote your brand. And that is you! There is nothing wrong with being friendly, but you still need to come across as a professional. (see #4) This may be your first impression with a potential reader so make it a good one.
Tip: Remember readers are judging you and your books based on what you answer in your interview. You want to share some of the “mystic” of being an author with them.Forget to be Professional – So everything you post on your own website or other websites, every communication you make should be a reflection of the best “you.” If you are an author, your communication needs to be clear and grammatically correct. This holds true with all forms of communication as a writer. (Check out my post on being professional in your e-mails.) Readers are going to assume that if there is poor grammar or writing in your interview that your book will be this way too.
Tip: Be professional in all forms of communication. This means complete sentences and correct spelling and grammar.Answer questions that don’t apply – If you write non-fiction, you should skip questions about characters and black moments in your book. The same goes for the writers of memoirs. Since your story is based on real events, you probably don’t have a “favorite” character.
Tip: Read the interview instructions and only answer questions that appeal and apply to you.
Author interviews are all about letting readers – and more importantly potential readers – get to know the person who wrote the book. As a writer, you need to know how to portray yourself and your book in the best light. Think about what you would be interested in knowing and share that information. Just remember to watch the length of your answer, use complete sentences and check your grammar.