Wednesday, August 8, 2012

How Do You Interview An Author?

From the title, you may think this is a how to on author interviews. It's not. I've done a few, but I'm new to blogging, know virtually nothing of journalism, and have been flying by the seat of my pants every time. 

I remember sitting there, dumbstruck, when the first interviewee asked me to send her some questions. 

What the heck am I going to ask?


As with most other panicky brain-freeze moments, I turned to Google. I searched 'ice breaker questions' and generated a plethora of sites with whole lists. Thank goodness! Many of the questions I discarded as unsuitable for my needs, but many were perfect as is or with a little tweaking—especially if the author wanted some fun questions thrown into the mix.

Another thing that made it difficult was the fact I didn't know the authors personally. I hadn't read their books, either. Because of this, I found it hard to write a decent, natural-sounding intro.

If you've done interviews or been interviewed by others, let us know what worked for you. 

What is expected of each party? 
What's common courtesy? 
What kinds of things make the process easier?

Thanks for visiting. :)

20 comments:

  1. Cool post, Melissa. I actually LOVE interviewing authors--I think it comes from the fact that I used to interview people for newspapers.

    First and foremost, you have to have some background info on the author. Even if you haven't read their stuff, there's usually a wealth of hidden info on their websites.

    For instance, I just interviewed writer Bethany MacManus and I stumbled on a little sentence on her blog that she's a vegetarian. Since I was a veg. in college, I asked her why. You can't be afraid to ask nosy questions. If they don't want to answer them, they'll tell you (usually they think it's fun I'm asking this stuff!).

    I just interviewed Jordyn Redwood about her book, Proof, even though I haven't been able to buy/read it yet. That interview will go up this Friday on my blog, but I'm hoping it'll bring the author to life a little more for people! And I think that's always the goal.

    Hope this helps some...my motto would be to "Be fearless!" But of course, always be polite.

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    1. Great advice - thanks! :D

      PS: I've read Proof.
      You need to read it. It's good. ;)

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  2. I usually give authors a pointed stare and say, "Tell me something interesting or everyone will hate you."

    ...Kidding! ;)

    I research as much as humanly possible, and then ask the things I'm curious about. I mean, if I want to know, surely someone else will, right?

    Great post!

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  3. I always just ask what I want to know as a writer and then what I think other writers would find helpful. I always ask for a piece of advice because I'm interested to see what other writers will pick if they have to only choose ONE piece of advice!

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    1. That's a good idea, too. Thanks. :)

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  4. It does help to know a little about them and their books, although you don't have to read the books first. The best interviews have personal or unusual questions. I've done a lot of interviews and certain questions become repetitive.

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    1. I'm discovering that last part. LOL :)

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  5. You were smart to google "ice breakers." You can also google "author interviews" and see what kinds of questions other interviewers are asking. I've never done an author interview and don't really want to, but I think it's great you do! :-)

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  6. I've been wondering the same thing. Great advice from your commenters. I'm taking notes.

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    1. Me, too. Thanks for stopping by. :)

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  7. Wow, I am seriously impressed... been a follower since the beginning (my bald head shines bright:) and I so presumed you had some sort of journalism in you...

    What's awesome is you are naturally a great writer and have a *great* knack of promoting others, so you are going to go far:)

    To answer your question (and I am a former beat reporter) this is what I do:

    I *skip* the usual writer-ly questions (someone else has already asked them - guaranteed.)

    I go to their blog or website and read their "about me" and other previous interviews to glean some info.

    Then, I come up with no more than ten questions and I submit them weeks in advance.

    I also have a 500-word limit on interviews, so this keeps answers tight.

    Hope that helps :)

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    1. Thanks for the compliment...no journalism, just an English teacher for a mother. LOL

      Those are some great tips. *hurries to grab notebook* :)

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  8. Well, I try to keep it short when I interview. A few writing questions, a few book questions, then a few "fun" questions that readers might think is interesting. :-)

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  9. I send anywhere from 5-7 questions. Before I do, whether or not I've read the authors' books I carefully peruse their websites and blogs to brainstorm. Over time I've come up with more unique questions, so I believe I've become a better interviewer.

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  10. I have a list of over 30 questions, but I know the interview has gone well when the author takes the ball and carries it. Some just simply love talking about their work and will lead the interview. Others will answer each question with a yes or no, and I've gone through all 30+ and added commercials in between to eat up the time. But that's on Blog Talk Radio. But honestly it's different with each one -- have an honest open dialogue first find out if this is the first interview or if they're a pro, relax and let the fun begin.

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    1. You bring up a good point - the author brings something to the equation, too. Thanks for visiting. :)

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