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Giving Good Interview – Suggestions on How to Be a Dream Interview Subject

[1]When writing friends began to ask me for advice about their role in the author interview, I scratched my head even as I did my best to answer their questions. Surely they’d know more than I; after all, I’m unpublished, uninterviewed, and my credentials in this arena stem chiefly from nosiness. However, a quick survey [2] on my blog explained the cause of their confusion: Most authors don’t have access to a publicist. They’re learning on the job or informally from one another.

This post is intended to fill the gap. I’ll share some examples of what I consider best practices, particularly for an in-depth interview like we do in our two-parters on Writer Unboxed. If you have a different opinion, experience, or suggestions, please add to the conversation!

Tomorrow’s post will be about the interview’s role, and yes, I haz expectations.

Before You Commit Is the Site the Right One for You?

Match your goals and strengths to the site. For instance, are you aiming for quantitative exposure? Do you have a premise and/or cover art that practically sell themselves? Do you find networking a snap? If so, you might favour blogs with short, pithy interviews. Conversely, are you hoping to cement/forge a relationship with a blog host? Would your work display better if given a more holistic approach? If so, consider aiming for a longer interview, then maximize its exposure.

Take into consideration the blog’s voice and audience. You are more likely to find an audience which will engage with your fiction if you enjoy reading the blog. Size isn’t everything. An interview which connects with the host and readership on a small blog probably contains more benefit than a spectacular miss on a big site.

Are there interview guidelines? Ask. Some sites post expectations, some list them in a letter, some handle them organically on a per-interview basis. What’s most important is to have them articulated so you know if you and the site are a match. In particular:

Time-Considerations and Scheduling

You’ll likely be setting up your schedule months in advance, but some pre-thinking will endear you to your hosts:

Pace Yourself and Build in Flex-Time: An interview will take time and energy from you when you might be preoccupied with copyedits or deadlines for another book. From first correspondence to last, you’ll spend a minimum of two hours per site. (In the survey referenced above, that number varied from 1 – 8 hours. “Typical” was about 4 hours.)

If you schedule two interviews on one day, aim for different audiences. After the time you’ve both invested, don’t make your blog hosts compete for the same traffic. Also, if you hit a lower Internet-traffic week, you’ve lost that cadre of readers.

If you have to cancel or reschedule, do it early – if you don’t show, not only will you have wasted your host’s time, but you’ll leave a gap that has to be filled.

To Maximize Efficiency, Build Depth in an Interview, and Make Your Host’s Life Easy…

…build yourself a press kit. At some point, your interviewer is probably going to want access to the following. Offer and send them the following whenever they are ready for it. I prefer to have this data before I compose the questions.

As You Compose Your Responses

To Maximize an Interview’s Exposure

Before it Airs: Particularly for bigger interviews, post a schedule of upcoming events on your website.

When It’s Up:

When It’s Over, Keep it Working for You:

Now it’s your turn. I’d love it if you turn the comment section into a resource. If you’ve been interviewed and had a wonderful experience, care to share who nailed the role of host? What made it special? Did I miss anything you think is important?

Lastly, if you found this helpful, don’t forget about tomorrow’s post, which will be about the role of the interviewer.


About Jan O'Hara [10]

A former family physician and academic, Jan O'Hara [11] left the world of medicine behind to follow her dreams of becoming a writer. She writes love stories that zoom from wackadoodle to heartfelt in six seconds flat: (Opposite of Frozen [12]; Cold and Hottie [13]; Desperate Times, Desperate Pleasures [14]). She also contributed to Author in Progress, a Writer's Digest Book edited by Therese Walsh.