As part of the WOW! Women on Writing team, I have an opportunity to interview authors for their book blog tours as well as those who have placed in our quarterly flash fiction tours. This is a privilege I take very seriously. I understand why some websites/blogs/radio hosts use boiler-plate interview questions, but this has never appealed very much to me. I look at an interview as an opportunity to connect with someone unique, and the interviews I find most interesting are those with unique questions tailored to the individual. Taking the time to craft unique questions is well worth it in the end and makes for a memorable interview. Here are some tips I use to come up with interesting questions both readers and authors will appreciate:
1) Get in the mindset - I always try to picture myself sitting around the kitchen table eating cheesecake and drinking coffee with the person I'm interviewing. Even though we may have never met, I like to think of each interview as a friendly conversation with an old friend.
2) Do your homework – I can't imagine how difficult it would have been in 1960 to do your homework about an author, but it's 2017 and we have this fancy thing called the internet and it allows us to connect with all sorts of people. Most authors have a website, blog, facebook page, or all of these. In addition to reading their book or article, I also like to check out other interviews, blog posts, recent social media posts, etc…to help gather information for our interview.
3) Ask the tough questions – if the authors bio indicates it took them 5 years to write a book, or they started writing one book and ended up publishing another, don't be afraid to ask about those areas of their writing.
4) Go back if necessary – since many of my interviews are done online (via email), it's a little different than sitting down with someone face to face. I'll generally offer someone 7 questions and ask them to answer the 5 they like most. Sometimes I get the answers back and then it prompts more questions,,,so I ask them! If I were to ask a question about who was most influential in your writing career and you told me it was your sister in law because her books are on the NYTimes best seller list time and time again; how on earth could I not ask who your sister in law is and what she thinks about your recent success? People love talking about themselves, so if an answer prompts another question, don't be afraid to ask it.
5) Make it conversational - Once you've got all your answers, go back and take a look at your questions. You can add a little here and there to make the interview flow as if you were sitting on a couch sipping coffee with the author you are interviewing. This makes the interview a lot more fun for the reader.
As a reader of an interview, if you are left with more questions, be sure to leave them as a comment to a blog post. In most cases (especially here at WOW!) authors and interviewers love responding to comments on blog posts.
Crystal is a secretary and musician at her church, babywearing cloth diapering mama (aka crunchy mama), business owner, active journaler, writer and blogger, Blog Tour Manager with WOW! Women on Writing, Publicist with Dream of Things Publishing, Press Corp teammate for the DairyGirl Network, Unicorn Mom Ambassador, as well as a dairy farmer. She lives in Manitowoc County, Wisconsin with her husband, four young children (Carmen 9, Andre 8, Breccan 3, Delphine 2, and baby E due in fall 2017), two dogs, two rabbits, four little piggies, a handful of cats and kittens, and over 230 Holsteins.
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