Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Doing Interviews - From Both Sides

I've looked at interviews from both sides now - from asking and answering, from posting to linking... and still somehow, it's interviews' illusions I recall. I really don't know interviews at all.

Or something like that, anyway.

On this blog, I have posted several interesting interviews with authors who have very nicely given their time, and I've even done a few myself for other sites. So, why do we do them, and how is a good interview asked/answered?

Now, I admit that I cheat a little - I have pre-set questions that I send to the author, and leave it pretty informal and up to them which they answer and how they go about it. I figure, being authors, they know how to come up with interesting stuff with only slim prompting. I try to give a mix of advice/craft questions and random interest stuff, while still giving them the chance to talk about their books - which, after all, is why most authors do interviews. It is good exposure, we all hope.

This week on Facebook, I posted an open invite to authors to post their advice and opinions on interviews, and got some good tips.

In terms of answering, Stephanie Beck, author of David's Angel, recommends authors answer in ways that are "not a constant book pitch (no one wants to read that), not super trite (readers want to get to know you at least a little), and not choppy or left un-spellchecked (your writing style translates more than just into actual books)." I concur! I think a well-written interview is an important step in convincing potential readers your books are enjoyable - otherwise, they might be counter productive.

And self-promotion is really what interviews are about. Robert C. Roman, author of Road Mage, puts it well when he says, "The more places you put your information out, the more places people see it. Cross pollination of fanbases, so to speak."

Yet, conducting author interviews is also a form of promotion, if the truth is told. There are other reasons, of course - I need the regular content, so interviews are a big help there, and I also find it is a great way to make friends, get to know other authors, and to generate good karma for yourself in the community, as people tend to appreciate the chance to talk about their work, even on little blogs like mine. And I like doing things that people appreciate.

But, I can't lie and say blogging interviews is not without its promotional element, as well. Not only does it increase posts (which updates my Facebook) and therefore hits, I also hope many authors will pass the link to their interview on to their fans, which increases my name recognition (even a little) - all of those factors are good reasons to do author interviews. That and, of course, you want your blog to be interesting to book people, and readers like reading about authors, and find new books.

However, there is more to blogging interviews than just asking, "So, what are you selling?" I am still new to the game, so my questions aren't really refined yet, but I am working on it. It is important to ask good questions and to post interviews that attract readers.

So, what makes a good interview? Beck suggests matching the tenor of the questions to the nature of the author - funny, serious, dramatic, etc. This is a fine suggestion, though it requires some research on the part of the interviewer - but it makes for a stronger interview that is more interesting to read. Roman recommends not forgetting to let the author improvise, and not to ask questions that are too narrow - and to let them talk about their books. He also suggests that questions should be a mix of serious and fun. All very important things for making the interview not only interesting to read but more pleasant for authors to answer.

More than any who responded to my plea for advice, though, romance writer Jasmine Aherne is concerned with keeping the interview interesting for the readers. Her suggestions are, "Ask interesting questions, keep it fun. Make it ocassionally random. Post lots of pictures." All sound advice for keeping your blog visually and mentally stimulating, which ends up being better promotion all around. (And her concerns for fun, stimulating media are clearly reflected in her author site - one of my favourites!)

In sum, when you are author/book blogging the important thing to remember is that just doing it on autopilot is not always better than not doing it at all. If you are not interviewing in such a way that draws readers or in ways unpleasant to your authors, this would reflect poorly on your blog. In turn, when answering interviews if you don't put your best foot forward, you might be turning off potential readers rather than promoting yourself in your best light. Robert Roman is absolutely correct when he urges authors to be honest in asking/answering, but there are many ways to be honest while still being interesting and/or fun.

I will keep working on my interviews, both giving and conducting, and I hope you all continue reading! I'd love to hear what you think on this week's topic - feel free to leave a comment!

~*~

If you would like to do an interview for this blog, please email me at anneholly2010@gmail.com.

2 comments:

Stace said...

You have a very smooth flow,smart,funny and beautiful.Keep up all the hard work!

Joanne Troppello said...

Anne, some great advice from you and the other authors in the posting. I will definitely continue following your blog.

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