How You Can Conduct an Author Interview Like a Pro

“Remember, you are not the focus of the interview. Your only job is to make the interviewee look like a hero.“  —Carlos Cooper

cover1My guest today is Amy L. Sullivan, author of When More Is Not Enough. Amy graciously agreed to share steps to conduct out-of-the-ordinary interviews, whether for blog posts, audios, or videos. Her book is for “families who are ready to move beyond seeing generosity as a series of tasks and instead, turn it into a way of life.”

Author interviews are a great way to highlight authors and establish connections. Follow these easy steps to look like an interviewing pro.

Prepare. Walk into the interview knowing something about the author: where they live, the name of the last book they wrote, a funny post they recently shared. Preparing ahead of time allows you to connect with the author immediately. 

Pay attention to time zones. Make certain you confirm time zones. I learned this when I thought an author was in the Eastern time zone, but she was in the Pacific, and I agreed to a 9:00 pm interview.

Set a clear expectation regarding time. Let your interviewee know upfront exactly how much time the interview will take and then, stick to the time period given.

by jppi
by jppi

Ask a variety of interesting questions and have more questions than you will need. I promise you every single person who interviews an author asks, “Where did you get the idea for your book?”

Be different. Come up with unique and well-thought-out  questions and always have more questions then you need.

Along the same lines, if you are emailing questions to an author, don’t overload them with twenty questions. Send the author between five and eight questions and allow them to choose the questions they would like to answer. 

In this interview with Jessie Benkert six questions was the perfect amount for my readers to get to know her.

Be fun. Forget ho-hum. Think of a way to add something unique to the interview.

by monosodium
by monosodium

In an interview I did last summer with Jeff Goins I asked Jeff to play the game Instant Answer.

This is how I found out he preferred U2 over Michael Jackson, chess over checkers, Downton Abby over Scrubs, and flying over driving. Interesting, right?

Ask the author ahead of time if there is anything specific he or she would like you to share with your readers. The author may want you to run a book trailer or include specific social media links. Ask and then follow through.

Make some noise. Once your interview is printed, yell about it on social media.

Be gracious. I know you know this, but drop the author an email thanking them for their time. It’s just nice.

Do you have any tips you can add to the list? Do you have a favorite author interview you have conducted? Leave the link in the comment section.

Tweetable:

Be fun. Forget ho-hum. Make some noise. Conduct an author interview like a pro. Click to tweet.

amy2Bio: Amy L. Sullivan is author of When More is Not Enough (Amazon link). Amy also writes for oodles of print and online publications and loves speaking with groups of any size. Connect with her online at AmyLSullivan.com

The Essential Announcement Element to Lure Readers to What You Write

“The danger of the Web is that you can go from idea to public announcement in under ten minutes.” —Seth Godin

 

by pedrojperez
by pedrojperez

We do much work to write an interesting blog post, article, or book. Yet our announcements to promote our work fail to draw people to it. We ignore the one thing that works. I say ignore, because experts are constantly encouraging us—begging us—to use this important bit of wisdom. 

Here are examples to show you what I mean.

What Many of My Incoming Emails Look Like

Set 1:

Subject: Jane Doe Is My Guest Today

First Line 1: Come by and see what Jane has to say.

First Line 2: Stop by and hear about her writing journey.

First Line 3: If you have time, come by and encourage her.

First Line 4: You don’t want to miss what she says about her writing journey.

In Set 1, even though the senders address the readers, using “you,” they don’t tell them anything. We need to find at least one thing in our content our audience will want to know. And lure them with that tidbit.

by Jusben
by Jusben

This is what experts keep telling us:

Tweetable

To lure people to read your words, tell them what’s in it for them. Click to tweet.

 

Might This Email Work Better?

Subject: How You Can Win Over Unsupportive Family

First Line: Author Jane Doe gives several successful ways she won over her unsupportive husband and children.

by Prawny
by Prawny

Set 2:

Subject: I’m on Jane Doe’s Blog Today

First Line 1: I talk about my characters.

First Line 2: I’d love to hear your thoughts on my post.

First Line 3: Novel Baby is available; hop by and meet my characters.

First Line 4: See what I went through last month with my characters.

In Set 2, notice the words “I” and “my”? Most people probably don’t care about us, the blog we’re on, or that another book is out. We must find something in our content that will make readers want to go to Jane’s blog.

Tweetable

Give people a reason to care about your spot on someone’s blog. Click to tweet.

Might These Emails Work Better?

Subject: Romance Readers: 3 Reasons Experts Say You Must Read Novel Baby

First Line: In Blogging Books today, you’ll learn why readers, such as you, endorsers, and reviewers, loved the characters in Novel Baby.

OR:

Subject: How to Rebuild Your Life After Losing Your Job

First Line: From character Drew Peters’ journey in Starting Over, Blogging Books lists 3 pitfalls and 4 successful efforts to handle the loss of you job.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Set 3:

Subject: Revamped Blog

First Line 1: Friends, I’ve revamped my blog. Check it out.

First Line 2: Fellow authors, I’ve got a new look! Tell me what you think.

In Set 3, when we write requests like this, we give people no reason to stop what they’re doing and go to one of millions of blogs to see our new look.

So, except for family members, this option may work better:

Tweetable

Instead of invitations to your new blog, write a great post & draw people to it. Click to tweet.

Which types of promotion emails do you seldom read?

7 Steps to Increase Your Blog Traffic with Click-to-Tweet

“The Internet has transformed many parts of our daily lives, touching everything from how we find information to how we go shopping, get directions, and even stay in touch with friends and family.” —Dean Ornish

Tweet! pippalou
“Tweet!”
photo by pippalou

Since I added Tweetables to my blog posts, I’ve seen increases to my visits. Adding at least one Tweetable is easy enough to warrant the time.

Tweetable

  • Tweetables make sharing your content on Twitter easy for your readers. click to tweet

7 Steps to Add Tweetables Using Click-to-Tweet

Step 1. Join Clicktotweet.

Here’s the link: http://clicktotweet.com

Use the free version or get statistics on your Tweetables with the paid version.

Step 2. Create your Tweetable content.

I usually add three principles or suggestions inside each blog post. These are my Tweetables. I personalize my Tweetables by using the words “you” and “your.”

Example: You can glean new uses for the books on your bookshelves.

Click to Tweet Photo by mensatic
Click to Tweet
photo by mensatic

Step 3. Prepare your Tweetables.

In your blog post editor, start with your principles or suggestions (or whatever) and add to them from the options below.

Options:

  • Make them bold.
  • Insert Tweetable as an introduction.
  • At the end enter: “click to tweet” or “tweet this.”
  • Set them off as a bullet point.

 

Examples:

Tweetable

  • You can glean new uses for the books on your bookshelves. click to tweet

Tweetable

  • Put the books in your bookcases to work. click to tweet

Step 4. Obtain a shortened link to your blog post.

At the top of WordPress’s post editor is a “Get Shortlink” button. I click on it and copy the link.

"I use Hootsuite." seenicks
“I use Hootsuite.”
photo by seenicks

To reduce the link further to use less of Twitter’s 140 permitted characters and spaces, you can use Hootsuite’s “add a link” shortener or some other shortener, such as Bitly.

I use the paid version of Clicktotweet. It automatically shortens my blog post link.

Examples:

Original WordPress Link: https://zoemmccarthy.com/writing/10-ways-make-books-earn-shelf-space-bookcase (76 characters)

WordPress Shortlink: http://wp.me/p4RysI-Y0 (22 characters)

Hootsuite: http://ow.ly/Ay06a (18 characters)

ClicktoTweet (paid version only in Step 6): http://ctt.ec/5C8cg+ (20 characters)

Step 5. Create your actual tweets.

You can build your tweets in ClicktoTweet’s message box (one at a time).

  1. Sign in to the ClicktoTweet website.
  2. Copy and paste just the principle or suggestion (or whatever) content from Step 2.
  3. At the end of that, paste in your blog post’s shortened link from Step 4.
  4. Enter your Twitter handle.
  5. Add subject hashtags.

Examples in ClicktoTweet:

For Tweet 1:

You can glean new uses for the books on your bookshelves. http://ow.ly/Ay06a @ZoeMMcCarthy #writing 

For Tweet 2:

Put the books in your bookcases to work. http://ow.ly/Ay06a @ZoeMMcCarthy #writing

Step 6. Still in ClicktoTweet, get theClicktoTweet link.

This is the link that your blog visitors will click on.

  1. Click on Generate New Link button.
  2. Copy that link.
  3. Add that link to the “click to tweet” or “tweet this” in your Tweetable from Step 3.
  4. Repeat Step 5B through Step 6C for each tweet.
"See the tweet on Twitter" photo by cooee
“See the tweet on Twitter”
photo by cooee

Step 7. Preview your post and test your Tweetable.

In preview, click on the “click to tweet” or “tweet this.” A tweet box should open in Twitter with your Tweetable inside and a Tweet button outside. You haven’t published your post yet, so don’t click on the Tweet button.

You’re done. However, once you publish your post:

Tweetable

  • Always click on the click-to-tweet links in your posts to be sure they work. click to tweet

Enter your questions in the comments, and I’ll do my best to answer them.