Seven Ideas for Better Author Interviews

interviewI’ll blog, speak, or be interviewed by almost anyone almost anywhere. Most articles that I’ve written or interviews I’ve participated in have led to other opportunities. It’s an honor to have someone donate part of their valuable online real estate to me or my books. I don’t look at their Alexa ranking or check out how many followers or friends they have I just try to do it. And, I always try to be engaging. Sometimes I suppose it works and sometimes it does not.

Now, I’m about to say something very controversial. Get ready – Most interviews that I’ve read recently where a self-published author is asked questions are boring – incredibly boring. Although the person being interviewed may be a wonderful writer that talent does not always shine through in the answers they’re giving. Sometimes, as a reader, it’s quite difficult to get past the first couple of questions. This is unacceptable because, as most of you know, the questions are sent to the author in advance. So, unless you’re under an incredibly tight time frame you usually have time to ponder your answers and display your creativity and writing prowess by giving the reader something entertaining to read. Admittedly, I haven’t always been able to accomplish this but I do try.

I’ve put together some guidelines that may help you when trying to engage your readers. Remember, the people who are reading your guest blog or answers to questions or listening to you speak at an event are going to be able to help you in several different ways. They could purchase your book. Or, they could talk about your book to someone else. Or, and this is the biggie, they could offer to promote you through other means. Please accept these suggestions from someone who has made most of these mistakes.

1. Do not duplicate
Unfortunately, the questions given to us are often mind-numbingly similar so it is tempting to give the same answers in different interviews. Don’t do it. Our goal is to showcase our creativity. We want readers to search out our work or have bloggers clamor to learn more about us. Copying and pasting answers from other interviews is a cop out.

2. Don’t get too in depth when asked about your background
This rule can be broken if your story is particularly funny, touching, or alarming. There will be other opportunities in your career to credit your first grade teacher who instilled within you a love of writing. Only get specific and wordy if your history truly is a compelling read. The people reading or listening to you are authors who want to know what you did to engage with readers or they’re readers who want to be entertained.

3. Don’t talk about animals
Again, this can be broken but only in truly isolated and incredibly interesting occasions. Many people have a cat or dog. Many of their pets snuggle up beside them and give them comfort. Some may even inspire them. Find a unique and entertaining angle and pursue it. Do not write about the mundane.

4. Edit and check copy
The interviewer or blogger may not edit your work. So, send them an edited version. Don’t assume they’re going to do the work. And, ask for a final copy before it is uploaded. This way you can check for errors yourself.

5. Utilize your Amazon affiliate links
If you publish through Amazon you should be enrolled in their affiliate program. This way, by posting your unique link to your books you’ll be paid each time someone purchases your work or other items once they’re on the parent site. Your interviewer may not be taking advantage of this opportunity. So when you send over information ask whether you can include your own affiliate links.

6. Find a way to make it work
All of us are time challenged. I sometimes believe that I will never, ever catch up. Find a way to accommodate the requests. I’ve participated in interviews, spoke at writers groups and taught workshops via Skype. I sit at my computer and speak to writers or readers who are sometimes thousands of miles away. There’s always a way to make it happen.

7. Give something away
This may not be what you think. It doesn’t always involve giving away a book. When I speak to a group I sometimes use an overhead projector. My last slide is always titled “How Can I Help You”. Typically my listeners are not only readers but other authors too. I give a list of things I’m willing to do to help them. I show that I have an “Authors Tools” tab on my website with helpful links. I give my email address in case anyone has questions they’d be more comfortable forwarding in an email. I give my book information once again. And, I give my Facebook, Twitter and Amazon author page information and stress that if they have any writing or book related concerns that I can help with they should friend or follow me and I will respond. Sometimes accessibility is the most important gift you can offer. I remember listening to bestselling authors and if any of them had offered to follow me back on Twitter or accept my friend request I would have jumped all over it. Although I’m not in the same league as most of those authors I know that when I’ve offered this connection many have accepted my friendship.

Follow the rules and magical things can happen. I’ve spoken or blogged or been interviewed countless times in the past few years and I hope that will continue. Almost each time I’ve participated another opportunity has been presented. Guest-blogging has led to an interview or a chance to write for another blog. Speaking to a group has led to a spike in sales and new reviews. And interviews lead to all types of other opportunities.

Each time the new opportunity appears I have the chance to interact with a new group of followers. If you look here you’ll see that I’ve added a new tab on my website. This is where you can find out where I’ve spoken or blogged or been interviewed and how it worked out. There are comments from group administrators and leaders who invited me to speak or write for them and they’ll tell you how it went. And, if you’d like me to come and play in your neck of the woods, whether it’s virtual or actual, just ask. Chances are I’ll come.

Author: Martin Crosbie

Martin Crosbie is the administrator of and writer of seven published novels. His self-publishing journey has been mentioned in Publisher’s Weekly, Forbes Online Magazine, and Canada’s Globe and Mail newspaper. You can learn more about Martin on his Amazon author page.

31 thoughts on “Seven Ideas for Better Author Interviews”

  1. Great advice, Martin, thank you! A wise woman told me not long ago that it was the author’s job to showcase talent during an interview. She said if it was boring, that showed a lack of creativity with the author’s answers. It’s advice I’ve very much taken to heart.

    1. Excellent advice, Martin.

      And Melinda, she’s going to be over the moon when I tell her you called her wise. Unless that is a euphemism for old. 🙂

    2. Now, I didn’t say it quite like that, Ms. Clayton! You are giving more credit than I deserve. Martin Crosbie says it all so much better than I ever could have. 🙂

  2. I love the part about how it’s the author’s job to make the interview entertaining. I’ve been guilty of offering terse answers in some interviews. Clearly, I need to up my game. 🙂 Thanks, Martin.

    1. Thanks for commenting Lynne. It was a reminder to myself too. I find if I include it in an IU article I feel like I have to abide by it.

  3. Martin, I agree wholeheartedly with all you’ve said, but your last point was a new one. I love it. I will now pursue that; need to update my web page,anyway! Thanks for the push.

  4. Very good page. Thank you for sharing your wisdom. Can I copy and paste your comments? Promise, I won’t use them in an interview 😉

  5. Excellent post, Mr. Cosbie! Thank you for writing this! I have read far too many author interviews in which the opportunity to turn the tables on mundane questions is simply not taken. One sentence straight forward answers just make me sad. I see them as lost opportunities for an author to sell themselves to readers, not just their books. Get me interested in you as a person and I am much more likely to buy your books, whatever the genre is.

    I plan on sharing this post far and wide!

  6. Thanks Martin. These are great tips. Some don’t want affiliates links, so I’d always sent the straight link. But, it’s a better idea to ask if it’s OK.

    Again, great tips.

  7. You know, I hear people say “Don’t give too much away.” I’m like…then what do I say? But I think there’s a balance, certainly. Thanks for the article.

  8. Martin, this is an excellent post. I’m so glad Yvonne asked the question about affiliate links too. It takes forever sometimes to complete interviews and I feel I’m the dullest person on the planet when I answer some of them, even if I try to lighten the responses. This has inspired me to make them more fun and edit them.

  9. Excellent post, Martin, thank you! I’ve been guilty of some of these things in the past. When a new book is out and you’re filling out five, six interview forms and it’s ten thirty at night, I can see the temptation to bang them out, but you’re right. Who wants to read something that we’ve turned into an afterthought? It’s our job to be entertaining, engaging. I keep trying to find different ways to turn those “same” questions on their ears. Great reminder. And I have no pets, except for the dust jackalopes, but people are tired of hearing about those, so no problem there.

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