How You Can Conduct an Author Interview Like a Pro

by | Writing | 20 comments

“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

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20 Comments

  1. Pam Halter

    Great tips! This will also help me prepare for the video clips my daughter will be filming of me when my novel releases. Thanks!

    • Amy L. Sullivan (@AmyLSullivan1)

      Pam,
      How exciting…not only about your new release, but that you and your daughter can work together on it. Very fun!

  2. Zoe M. McCarthy

    I agree, Pam. Especially the fun part.

  3. Laurean Brooks

    Great Tips as always, Zoe.

  4. Zoe M. McCarthy

    Yes, Laurean, Amy knows what she’s talking about. I can’t wait to try out her tips.

  5. Jane Foard Thompson

    Thanks, Lauren and Zoe. Even if we can’t give the interviewee the questions ahead of time, writing them out (with room for their reply between each) gives us the time to create interesting, deeper questions. If we convey honest interest in who they are, not just what they have done, or how writing/posting about them can make us look good, we can establish a relationship. They will open up more, and the interview will be more like a conversation with a fascinating friend.

    (All my interviews were with editors, in The Christian Communicator, in print, pre-blog days.)

    • Zoe M. McCarthy

      I agree, Jane. Establishing relationships is so important.

  6. Susan J. Reinhardt

    Hi Zoe & Amy –

    Great topic! I enjoy both interviewing and being the interviewee. In both situations, the Golden Rule should always apply. I give 110% in either case.

    Blessings,
    Susan 🙂

    • Zoe M. McCarthy

      Our workshop today a the writers’ conference, basically said what you said, Susan.

  7. Sally Chambers

    Terrific topic, Zoe and Amy. Just what I’d been looking for as I know zero about conducting a good interview and would like to start doing a few.
    Thanks and blessings,
    Sally.

    • Amy L. Sullivan (@AmyLSullivan1)

      Sally,
      Thanks so much for stopping by! Interviews are so fun and a fabulous way to make new connections! Good luck as you start conducting interviews on your own.

  8. Zoe M. McCarthy

    So, glad Amy’s tips were so timely for you, Sally.

  9. Janet K Brown (@janetkbrowntx)

    Great tips. I’m late but just now finding them. I do a lot of author interviews, but I still learned some things. That being gracious is a biggee.

    • Zoe M. McCarthy

      Never too late. :0) I’m glad you picked up extras to add to your expertise, Janet.

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