Thursday, March 5, 2020

Are Interviews What They Are Cracked Up to Be?

  

Are You Writing Interviews for Bloggers?

By Carolyn Howard-Johnson

Writing free content related somehow to your genre or title can be a fun way to add to value to your marketing campaign. I recommend bartering your writing skills for free content, especially for new writers. They get to do what they love; they get to write.

They also get bios, bylines, links to their books and even mini pitches for their books. That ups the backlinks to their websites and other online pages and, in turn, that ups their online presence. Not bad for doing what we love.

But caution. In my The Frugal Book Promoter I tell authors: “For a promotion to be successful, you have to promote the promotion.” I’m talking primarily social networking in this case, of course, but if you want more on how to do that, check out the book. That is not what this article is about.  This article is about the readability of interviews.

Today I read an amazing interview in Jim Cox’s newsletter. You probably know that he is Editor-in-Chief of the Midwest Book Review. In an interview from poet Carol Smallwood, he tells the story of how he started this project that helped propel the acceptance of self-publishing in the oh-so-staid publishing world, most of which thought nothing of practicing the most horrendous #bookbogotry possible. It is storytelling and it was fascinating. Suffice it to say, it broke all the interviewing rules from those we see in the AARP Magazine to Time Magazine to most blogs on any topic you might find on Wordpress or Blogger.  And certainly different from the “how-to-write-great-interview articles” you see in how-to magazines.



Everything we read about interviews tell us they should be short. They should be pithy. They do better if they are funny. People are in a hurry. People are used to reading “short and pithy.” It’s the Internet age, after all.

So, when are they successful?  Review the keywords in the first sentence, “related somehow to your genre or title.”  Now add “frequent.” You, the interviewer (or prospective interviewer) should be prepared to write a lot of them Then we mentioned promoting the promotion. If you don’t help drive traffic to the interview you write, they will garner very little attention. That’s true even if you access to some star-studded names. Relatively speaking, without a great presence on search engine, your work of art will be seen by few. 

I am in the mood to burst some bubbles here. I love to be interviewed. But I don’t write them for my blogs. And I rarely accept them as guestposts for my blogs! If you’ve read so far, you can see why. My favorite series of interview are in Time Magazine and, I admit, that I like them best when they are snarky but I don’t pay deep attention to them even then. They are good examples for learning more about interviews, though. You’ll find them on the back page of the magazine. What percentage of them would you say are controversial? Current?

Luckily, we--as the interviewers--are also the editors or at least one of the editors. That means we get to edit (shorten) rambling answers.  Interviews that are laid out in visuals that show the question and answers are going to be more easily read. We as the interviewers can make sure that happens, or at least encourage it to happen by submitting to our publisher (blogger, magazine editor, etc.)  in a form that cries out to be left as it is.

As the interviewer, you can ask your publisher for a hands-off policy  if you wish but they may still want to edit your piece to fit their style book. Associated Press, as an example, has a Style Book that tells them exactly what choices must be made and so they won't be eager to give over the editing or formatting job to you!

Note: If you are using interviews written by others—freelance or barter--tactfully let the interviewee know you might need to edit it for purposes of style or length. That way, they aren't surprised when they see copy (the questions or the answers)  that aren't exactly what they submitted. (-: 

Another thing. This comes straight from my  journalism experience. When we're wearing a journalism hat, we aren't required to let an interviewee (or informant) review, check, or otherwise monitor what we have written. We have a free press in the USA. So, unless you want help clarifying or editing or whatever, you aren't obligated to run what you have written by your interviewee.  Having said that, one of the biggest benefits of writing interviews--or reviews--is the opportunity it affords for building relationships. I think that networking is the best reason for writing interviews or giving interviews. Asking for input on your reviews can help you build relationships that can turn into bigger and better exposure for you, maybe in the form of being interviewed.
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Carolyn Howard-Johnson, is the author of how to books for writers including the award-winning The Frugal Book Promoter: How to get nearly free publicity on your own or by partnering with your publisher; now in its third edition. Don’t miss the multi award-winning second edition of The Frugal Editor; and Great Little Last Minute Editing Tips for Writers. The booklet, The Great First Impression Book Proposal is now in its second edition.  How to Get Great Book Reviews Frugally and Ethically helps you take full advantage of magical book reviews to keep your writing career move faster than you have imagined. Carolyn also offers free review services at TheNewBookReview.blogspot.com. Explore the opportunities for your book in the tabs at the top of the home page. She also blogs at all things editing, grammar, formatting and more at The Frugal, Smart and Tuned-In Editor

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