by Bethany Hensel
I’m so honored to be on the blog today. Believe me when I say I have every single book from every single one of these ladies. I’m fans of their individual blogs and Twitters and they are all class acts.
I thought I’d take this extraordinary opportunity of being a guest-writer on Pub(lishing) Crawl to talk about my career as both an arts and entertainment writer and as an author, most recently of a New Adult romantic suspense story called Unstoppable. Knowing how to conduct a great interview can help you in several ways as a writer, but for the purpose of this post, I’m only going to focus on how it can help your platform, especially if you’re a debut author looking to build buzz about your book. Let’s take a closer look.
At one point or another, you’ve probably read online or heard through friends and acquaintances that you should have a website, blog or some other central hub online that can tell a reader about your book and who you are. Very wise advice, not only from a marketing standpoint, but also from a reader-satisfaction standpoint. I know when I love a book, I immediately Google the author’s name. I want to know where he or she got his or her inspiration; I want to know what they were thinking of when they wrote that scene; I want to know if there are any extra chapters or bonus content. If I love a book, I want to devour every word on it and learn all I can. It’s how I happened across Susan Dennard. I read her book, Something Strange and Deadly one day (read: didn’t blink for two hours) and I wanted to know more about the imaginative world she created. And trust me, I definitely learned more. Susan’s web presence is amazing. Her Twitter #BAMFWordBattle writing challenges are great.
The point I’ve hopefully made is that when you have some sort of place online for people to find you, it’s good to offer them content. And one of the best pieces of content you can have, in my opinion, is an interview with your fellow writers (or reader or editor etc.). Interviews are so personal; they are, for lack of a better phrase, straight from the horse’s mouth. There’s no filter or the writer’s own agenda seeping in, as it sometimes can in a newspaper article. An interview can also offer up a nice change of pace for your readers. And speaking of readers…that’s where the marketing part comes in with an interview.
Let’s say that you’re just starting out and you’ve created your first Blogger or WordPress site and, for now, you only have 10 or 15 followers. Now let’s say that you invite a well-known author to be interviewed on your site. What you’ve effectively just done is opened the front door to 1,000 or 2,000 or 10,000 more people. You may have a small following right now, but that author you’re interviewing could have a humongous one, and they’ve all flocked to your nest. Hopefully, they may even stay and see what else is hanging on the walls. That’s exactly what happened to me when I interviewed world-renowned psychic medium, John Edward. I can’t tell you the spike in my stats that day!
But, you may be asking yourself, how do you conduct a good interview? What if you have no experience in conducting interviews? Well, you can check out my website and read my top ten tips, but I’ll tell you one of the most important things you can do as an interviewer now. Research. Try to find as much as you can on your subject, make notes of questions she or he has been asked before and then…try not to ask them. Vary it up, make it different. One of my favorite people in the entire world to interview was Comedy Central Roast alum and 2013 Academy Awards writer Jesse Joyce. He was an absolute blast to sit down with and later, I would find, the feeling was mutual. He wrote me an email that said how great the interview was because the questions were so different. Since that first interview, I’ve gone on to interview him 3 more times.
Oh, here’s another thing: be invested. Actually like and be interested in the person you’re featuring. That sort of genuine enthusiasm always comes through, and it makes researching a lot more fun, too! When I interviewed Kat Zhang for when her gorgeous debut novel, What’s Left of Me, released last year by Harper Collins, I was excited out of my mind to have a chance to pick her brain. The uniqueness and complexity of her story was a wonderful springboard into all of my other questions.
I must say that, regardless of site stats, inviting people on your site and interviewing them is a lot of fun. I really can’t stress enough how much sitting down and talking with a colleague in your field can help you. I’ve learned so much from talking with people like bestselling author Marie Lu, Writer’s House agent Jodi Reamer, Pittsburgh’s performer of the year David Whalen, and so many others. I also like to think I developed some very nice friendships through my interviews, too.
I hope this post was helpful and once again, thank you to the wonderful crew of Pub(lishing) Crawl for having me here!
Since her breakthrough into publishing in 2007, arts and entertainment writer Bethany Hensel has compiled a vast and varied catalogue of work that includes interviews with television personalities, bestselling authors, award-winning singers, and more; as well as reviews of popular books, Pulitzer Prize-winning plays, and beloved musicals. Her debut book, Unstoppable, which readers have called “sexy”, and “sizzling” will be released December 3, 2013.