Revealing You: The Author Interview

Author interviews are a great way for readers and potential readers to learn more about your writing and your person (if you so desire). It gives them the opportunity to “silently” decide whether your work might suit their tastes.

Some readers are forthcoming and eager to get to know authors yet others can be hesitant to overtly approach and make contact. If you are a self-pub or indie, even more so, as no doubt some of you have experienced. That seems a little unfair sometimes, but I’ve found it to be true. So requesting an interview from willing sites gets your name out there. It’s great advertisement and friendly marketing. Adding a giveaway or contest of some kind also increases your “traffic”and response.

Anytime is a great time for an interview but especially:

  • If you are a new writer eager to (hopefully) blaze your name across the web in a good way.
  • You have an upcoming release and you’d like to build anticipation.
  • You’ve had positive response to your work and you want to remain on the crest of your personal “wave.”
  • You’ve been on hiatus or away from the writing world for some time and wish to restablish yourself and provide updates.
  • Sometimes it’s “clean-up”, and by that I mean when there’s been a general “misunderstanding” of some sort and you wish to clarify or address an issue in a positive way.

But whatever the reason, you have to decide what or if you wish to reveal about yourself personally professionally, or if you wish to talk mostly about your work or writing.

So what about the interview questions, the content? Most websites or individuals I’ve worked with have a base set of questions they use with authors. If you are an acquaintance, if they’ve done a review of your work or it’s a specialty site, they likely will ask you more specific questions about your genre, books, background or even fun or personal questions (if appropriate). Others have extended lists of questions and give you the option of which ones you wish to answer.

Some readers like to feel a connection with an author, finding similiarities or something exciting and entirely new to them. As long as it’s comfortable for you, be willing to share knowledge of yourself and your writing that makes you stand out in the viewers mind, not just when they’re reading the interview but later when they searching for which book they’re going to buy next.

There’s plenty of sites out there open for interview requests but it’s a good idea to browse around first before sending your email. Looking through their archives, contact or “about us” pages are good places to generally learn what kind of authors and genres they’re interested in hosting. For example, it may be a pointless endeavor requesting an interview with a site that specializes in vampire fiction and dark fantasy, yet you write Christian romance. It doesn’t mean they don’t like your work or that they don’t wish you the best, but they are concerned with what their followers and readers want to view, and of course, they have their own preferences and agendas.

It’s always a plus to read their guidelines and requirements, following them as closely as possible. When you send your request and hopefully receive a response, it is a matter of basic courtesy to give acknowledgement of their acceptance EVEN IF they say they’ll get back with you at a latter date. This lets them be sure of your continued interest.

If they are writing a review of your work and need to schedule it in conjunction with your interview among the many others they likely have in queue, they need to know they’re not wasting their time. Often they have a very busy schedule, do not exclusively run a review/interview site but have jobs, families and other activities to attend to as well. In my case, as a fellow writer, I also have my projects and deadlines I need to complete. They, like myself, certainly wish to accommodate authors, but it’s important for authors to do their part, too. Ambiguous or even non-response can be counterproductive to inclusion.

What can you do if you’ve not been approached for an interview? I’ve also known writers who have not or as yet haven’t received a note of acceptance for their query. Deciding to set-up a “Q & A” of their own, on their website or page was a momentary and solid “fix.” I think this is a great idea as readers can “pre-learn” about you at their convenience, and might be prompted to research you a little further.

Another great idea is to take the initiative and ask to interview a fellow author, as this just might spur some reciprocal offers. From my own history, after creating a few pages at the wiki website GLBT Bookshelf, I happened to have a question about content and wrote for extra information. Although I knew the site was founded by well-known author, Mel Keegan, I had no idea they would personally reply to my query. Friendly, sincere and direct (qualities I particularly like in a person), we established a certain dialogue and taking the chance, I asked if I could conduct an interview.

To my great joy, for they were personally one of my favorite authors, Mel accepted. Not only did I learn and get to share with others background information about Mel’s writing and their work, but as they’ve been in the writing industry for decades, we were all provided invaluable wisdom and direct knowledge about both traditional and indie publishing that actually gave me confidence to strike out on my own.  I realize some people don’t read or consider gay fiction, but as you’d read in the interview, Mel does write under other names the general public aren’t aware of. The information is applicable for all, at whatever stage of their careers.

So, my best advice is:

  • Be available.
  • Be courteous and adaptable.
  • Be knowledgeable and willing to take the intiative.
  • Be your own best advocate when necessary.

Who are some of the writers out there making positive steps to help their writing career and others? Visit the Indie Book Collective group on Goodreads.com for more of the discussion, but here are some of the participants and their achievements:

  • On “A Teen’s Reads” Indie Feature, an interview with Gwenn Wright, author of “Filter.”
  • At website Indie Ebooks by Nadine, which is specially dedicated to indie author interviews, more than 200 interviews have been conducted with  12000+ page views for my new site.
  • At the Authors Promoting Authors site, J.A. Belfield was featured in their article “The Author Experience: “My Journey from Non-Writer to Published Author.”
  • Interviews conducted here at Flying With Red Haircrow: French author, Anne de Gandt, Hawaiian native & memorist Faith Folau, Dolores McCabe, specializing in historical fiction, Aaron Hoopes, martial artist and Zen master and Mel Keegan, master of the gay thriller. Upcoming Robert Dunbar, Brian Springer and Boyd Lemon.

Obviously these writers and websites, like myself,  are try to “pass it forward.” Sure, we are indie authors, but we don’t have to be independent of each other.

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