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Thursday, December 2, 2010

Getting Author Interviews for Your Blog

Author interviews are a nice way to spice up your blog. Readers love them. They help promote authors. It's a win-win situation.

So how do you get authors? Ask.

It's intimidating to contact a stranger, but I've found most authors willing to answer questions and happy to appear on your blog. If he's too busy, most of the time he will let you know when he's available.

I enjoy the Joanna Fluke books, so I contacted her when I was on Writers in Residence. She supplied us with a guest blog. I've just contacted the authors of "Liar, Liar" and they have agreed to an interview. I'm thrilled because I loved their book.

Where do you find authors? Well, what are you reading right now? It makes sense to talk to authors whose books you love because your enthusiasm will reflect in your questions. But you shouldn't limit yourself to household names.

Introducing new authors to readers isn't only fun, it gives your blog an edge. Voracious readers are always looking for a new series to devour. I speak from experience. Check out the author list on sites such as Sisters in Crime and Romance Writers of America, or any other writing site populated by authors.

Should you interview authors you disagree with? That's a tricky question. On one hand, do you want to promote something you don't believe in? On the other hand, you have the opportunity to ask where that person is coming from. You can always stay away from the topics you disagree with and focus on what the author has to offer.

Is this blatant promotion for other writers? It sure is, but doing something nice for another writer is good karma, and we writers can use all the promotional help we can get now that publisher budgets are slim.

There are three ways to showcase an author on your blog.

  1. Ask for a guest blog. You may want to supply a topic to help the author out.  
  2. Send interview questions and ask them to return them by email. Make sure to personalize the questions. It takes more effort, but the authors appreciate it and you'll have something new to offer readers.
  3. Ask the author to send you around 1,000 to 1,500 words telling the audience anything she wants them to know about herself or her books. Then work the information into an interview. This idea came from Morgan St. James, and it works well. You wind up with tidbits of information you wouldn't have thought to ask about.
What kind of questions do you ask? I prefer not to put authors on the spot with political or religious questions or anything that might be interpreted poorly. I try to be specific to the books and the author. At the same time, I don't go too crazy, because the authors usually have a full plate and I don't want them to have to apply the same effort to the questions that they'd give to a college essay.

Some extras:

Make sure you get a photo of both the author and the book cover. You can get the cover from Amazon or the writer's website, but I ask for a current photo in case she has something more current they prefer. Make sure you specify what format you need it in. Jpeg works for blogspot.

Include a book review. Just make sure you post it first so that it appears under the author interview.

Links to buy the books are appreciated. I know when I'm eager to try out an author, I like being able to click through right from the blog. Be sure to include a link to Independent Bookstores such as http://www.indebound.org/ . We want to keep those people in business.

Author Interviews are a great way to get readers, and the authors just might reciprocate when you're promoting your own novel.

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