Wednesday, 23 June 2010

Braving the Interview

Whether it's your first interview or your tenth, do they really get any easier? I've only been on one side of the fence and I found it nerve racking.

Like anything else, I think you need to have confidence in yourself, believe in yourself in order to answer the questions. I, too, think you need to research and see how others handle interviews. My first three interviews I did my first year as an author were scary and turned out dull and lame; immature as far as the business goes. It didn't help that I was able to answer the questions at my leisure. This year, I have two scheduled and have yet to receive the questions, so I thought I'd research and glean advice. See if I could find help on maybe fixing my mindset. You know, see if I can stay out of that 'test freeze' mode.

There is no right or wrong answer, but still what you say and how you say it is judged. People weigh it and decide if you're interesting enough to bother with. If the interview is dull, then you're writing must be. After all, this is how publishers, agents and editors judge if you're worth considering.

The first place I stopped enlightened me. It indicated it wasn't so much me as it was the wrong questions being asked. Were they emailed pat questions given to all interviewees? Were the questions general? Yes, to both. Now, I understand the purpose of this so not all the blame can be given to the interviewer. Some authors answer these questions with poise and humor and it's a joy to read.

So, what is being suggested is that interviewers take the time to read an authors books, their blog, even reviews and form questions from there. While this can be time consuming, I can see how it can be helpful. But what about reading the authors website where most have excerpts, a first chapter and their bio. Between these and blurbs, you pretty much get a gist of the story and can form questions to ask.

It's also suggested questions should never be emailed -- phone interviews and even instant messaging is preferable, but if email is the only option to pass questions and answers back and forth, to limit the number to no more than five.

I raised two eyebrows about phone interviews. Like live interviews, I'm not ready for those, nor do I want to be put on the spot.

A year ago, I did decline an interview. I found the questions completely inaapropriate for the genre I write. That's my right as it's my reputation. Sometime, someone could come upon the interview and I could be deemed something I'm not. My work could be misjudged; ill-gotten rumors making the circuit could hurt sales.

Another important issue that was raised in many of the sites. Have you ever read an interview where the response to questions lead to other questions, only they're never asked. Interviewers should go back through the questions and answers and see if their are any responses which warrant a follow up question. Often there is. Ask them. Also, before you post the interview, send it back to the author for a final run-through. Often the author will improve responses, because they had already thought of ways they could have been more interesting, more clear, more anything right after that clicked that send button.

I have read recent interviews where the interview was more personalized, as if the interviewer and interviewee were friends. The questions were pertinent, fun and personalized. Those are the type of interviews which will draw interest in the author.

I never did find information to help authors get on the right thinking cap for answering author interview questions, maybe there are no answers. Maybe it has to come within your self. For me, I think I need to stop doubting myself and what I know. Trust in me; be me. I'm always going to be growing as an author, as a woman, and as a knowledgeable person in the business.

Weigh in and share your thoughts; you're experiences. How do you handle interviews? What things do you wish were asked, not asked?


[Come back July 12 and check out my post on Blog Talk Radio]


Lindsay Townsend said...

This is really useful, Bekki!

I've done interviews for my local paper - many years ago - and found them terrifying. Also they gave my real name rather than my writing name so it was rather a waste of time.

I agree that to make your answers interesting and funny is probably the way to go, depending on the genre you write.

I admire the fact that you turned down an interview because you felt the questions were not helpful. The issue of the web is that it is there possibly forever, so a writer needs to be careful.

Bekki Lynn said...

Yeah, I imagine genre really can play a role in how you answer and what kind of persona you want out there.

Part of me is a prude. Part of me is an erotic creature. I confuse people who know me. My head stone if I were to have one would read - Here lies the Predictibly Unpredictible

In this business, I've found you have to do a lot of sucking up. And I don't mean to other people.

Savanna Kougar said...

Bekki, honestly, I can't claim any great success with interviews. However, as far as blog interviews go, I basically just 'wing' it. Often, I let the outrageous side of me take over, and have as much fun as I can with it. That is, unless, a truly serious question is asked about writing, then I take the time to answer as best as I can for the sake of other writers.

To me, it's like writing one of my stories, in that, you're presenting your personality, or certain aspects of your personality. For example, the best interviews on TV to me, when I watched TV... was whenever the individual let their personality shine through, or your personable self *own* the interview.

You might ask yourself ~ do I let the prude come out to play ~ or am I letting the erotic creature out to play?

I share your split personality. Half of me is shy and introverted. The other half of me can be outrageous and out there.

Plus, there are different interview styles, and sometimes the questions are dull and uninspired. Sometimes, the questions are great and fun and really offer an author a chance to shine.

Linda Acaster said...

Good post, Bekki. My last interview in person was with local radio going out live "...and now we are with Linda Acaster 'Talking Of Moonlight...'" despite the fact that he had the damned book in his hand. It really put me off my stride and I didn't recover for three minutes. Son was taping it and I cringed all the way through.

I prefer email interviews because I can think my answers through, except if the questions are, well, passe. Are readers really desperate to know what my favourite colour/food is? If it has something to do with the book, fine, but otherwise... Hey ho.

Thanks for saying what a lot of us think, Bekki.

Bekki Lynn said...

Presenting a personality - I like that, Savanna.

That's exactly what it is.

Bekki Lynn said...

Linda, oh my. I'm afraid I would have done the same thing. I hope it went better after you found tongue.