Tips on Author Interviews

"Hurry it up. We're burnin' daylight." John Wayne

Preparing for my first author interview, as part of my marketing plan in my quest to launch my first book, has been challenging and, yes, fun. The only catch? No one has asked me for an interview yet!

No worries! It’s all part of my plan: to be prepared. Your quest for interviews comes in three parts: How to seek interviews with fellow authors; how to breeze through your own interviews, and for live interviews, what kind of technology you will need. Today we will take a look at how to conduct a standard text interview.

So, you Want to Interview an Author

Once you’ve chosen the author you’d like to interview, send an email or letter with your request. In the body, include:

  • An offer of a time that is convenient for her
  • Explain where the interview will appear and the date it will appear
  • Offer to send her a link and a copy
  • Request a photo
  • Send her the questions ahead of time.

Questions to ask authors abound. The best advice I found was not to make your questions boring:

  • Where do you get your ideas?
  • What is your writing process like?
  • What advice do you have for writers?

First up: Read the author’s book. Become acquainted with other books the author has written and what people are saying about them. Visit the author’s website/blog/online marketing pages, etc. Once you are thoroughly familiar with the author’s books, life, goals, etc., you will have an excellent framework for you to ask the best possible questions.

Here is a sample of questions found through a simple Google search. Please browse through the website addresses at the end of this post for more question suggestions, and excellent advice.

  • What is the first book that made you cry?
  • What are common traps for aspiring writers?
  • Have you ever considered writing under a pseudonym?
  • Do you try to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?
  • What’s the best way to market your books?

Ingrid Sundberg, one of my favorite author/bloggers, begins her interview with a big welcome, and, “Happy to have you here. Please introduce yourself and your books to my readership.” In an interview with YA fantasy writer Christopher D. Morgan, she delves into his writing process: asks if he's a plotter or punster, and in building a fantasy world, a difficult process, she asks, “What are your secrets to world building? And how do you keep all your worlds straight?”

At the end of Ingrid's thorough interviews, I especially like what she calls a “Lightning Round,” in which she shoots for quick answers.

  • Most influential author on you and your work.
  • If you could time travel, when/where would you go?
  • What are you going to dress up as for Halloween?
  • If you were a super hero, what color would your hair be?
  • Favorite word.
  • Least favorite word.
  • Biggest fear.

Hands down, my favorite interviewer is, Tah-dah!, Middle Grade Ninja himself, author and top blogger, Rob Kent. Ninja asks the same 7 Questions to each author and displays his interviews in the same way for each author.

Oh my, it’s good.

In the column on the left you will find links to the extensive list of authors he has interviewed, including Bruce Coville, Dan Gutman, and M.T. Anderson, to name a few. Please visit Ninja’s site to learn what his 7 Questions are. And take note: Each interview begins with a terrific photo of the author, then come the 7 Questions, and at the end, a video.

Important: After the interview, be sure to send a thank you to your authors. Some interviewers even send them a gift—a signed copy of your book, or swag.

Get your Ducks in a Row
Now it’s your turn. How can you prepare for your first interview?

  • Start a file with the questions you expect to be asked. Take the time to type out your answers. When the inevitable interviewer comes knocking (or emailing, as the case may be), your subconscious will have your answers at the ready.

  • If you haven’t already, have professional publicity photos taken to use as your head shots. And better, recognize photo ops when they occur, and make sure you keep the photos in your files for more informal occasions. Check out the cool informal shots on Ninja’s blog. They show the zaniness of the authors, in spades.

  • Prepare a video and again, watch some Ninja videos. They’re lively, fun, wacky—not boring!

Next up: Live Author Interviews

Coming soon!

Linda Wilson, a former elementary teacher and ICL graduate, has published over 150 articles for adults and children, and several short stories for children. Her first book, Secret in the Stars: An Abi Wunder Mystery, a mystery/ghost story for children 7-11 years old, is hot off the press and will be available soon. Currently, she is hard at work on The Ghost of Janey Brown, Book Two in the series. Follow Linda at

Active vs. Passive Writing: Energize Your Prose!

 by Suzanne Lieurance Ever feel like your stories and articles are a bit slow-paced and wordy?   If so, that’s probably because you’re using...