How to Interview Other Writers Effectively and Efficiently
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The art of interviewing anyone requires preparation, professionalism, and presentation. Working with authors are no different. In general, the rules are simple but there are aspects of in person interviews, over the telephone or online, that require a full modifications.
Be professional. Regardless of which type of interview, make sure you present yourself in the best possible way. Bad news travels fast and authors have a vast network of other writers and fans to pass along info if you act like a gossip columnist on a hot lead.
Present yourself and the author in the best possible way. Everyone wants to look good and there is always something positive to say. If there isn’t then there shouldn’t be an interview. Nobody wants to see you do a negative interview. They will remember it when you ask them to participate.
Where are you meeting the author? A restaurant? Plan for the hours between lunch and dinner rush. The noise level with be lower and the staff won’t mind if you take up a table for an extended time.
Take paper, pen, and a recorder. Don’t depend on electronics to always perform. Print out a list of your questions leaving space to write the response. Make sure to have blank spaces for if the interview changes directions or you want to make an extraneous notation (clothing, personality).
Show genuine interest. Don’t try to fake it. Authors know. It is their job to watch human nature and translate it to the page.
Allow them to complete their response but keep the conversation from deviating from the main idea. If the author starts talking about her dogs and they are not a part of her writing process, gently bring focus back to writing.
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Over The Telephone Interviews
This is very similar to the in-person interviews but without the visuals. You don’t have the benefit of picking up on the cues and nuances that face-to-face interaction provides. Practice your telephone voice. Call others and have them help you practice.
Remember that voice conveys more than words. Fear, anxiety, anticipation, boredom all go through the phone line…both ways. Listen carefully to the author’s intonation. If they start to sound like they need to go, let them know you only have a couple more questions and pick the most important.
Make your questions concise but encourage more than a yes or no response. If the author is nervous, chit-chat for a few minutes to relieve the anxiety. Remember you are a stranger asking questions and those responses will be seen by your followers.
Be friendly and keep a smile on your face. Believe it or not, it transfers to the other person. A smile influences your speech pattern. Try it yourself. Say ‘cheese’ with a no emotion in your voice and then again with a big smile on your face. Hear the difference?
There are several types of online interviews. Some work in a chat mode while others like to send you an email with questions that they will turn into a written interview.
In these you don’t get the benefit of even speaking with the other person. It is all done in writing, which is what we do best, of course.
Chat mode is one we are used to in day to day life. We message other people but usually these people are ones we know or have limited knowledge. We know what to expect. Take time to think about what you wish to convey and remember this person probably doesn’t know you. Consider utilizing some of your other writing friends. Send them questions you make up and ask them what they think.
Email questions are a personal favorite of many. They know what is being asked. They have time to create responses. They have a copy of every word sent so there is no danger of a missed quote. Yes, it is totally impersonal but it is efficient and covers all the bases.
Important: If a quote/fact is ever in question, make sure you double check it with the author.
There are many aspects of interviews but the most important is to respect the person you are interviewing and let them know that respect will shine through in your article.
Interested in having an interview with Our Write Side? Contact us today!
Nancy Miller lives out in the Illinois countryside near St. Louis, Missouri. She shares her home with her husband of 31 years and three exceptionally spoiled dogs. After losing her house to fire in November 2013, not much was left but they did find a slightly melted USB drive with all her writing backups. She took this a sign she should get back to work. She is the author of Crystal Unicorns and Shark Bait, romantic suspense novels available in paperback and ebook on Amazon.
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