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How to Be Interviewed to Promote Your Book – Tips for Authors

How to Be Interviewed to Promote Your Book Tips for AuthorsWhether you’re appearing on a radio talk show or writing a guest post to promote your book, you need to know how to be interviewed! These tips for authors are from B. Lynn Goodwin, author of You Want Me to Do What? Journaling for Caregivers.

Before the tips, a quip:

“A boy has to peddle his book.” ~ Truman Capote.

Peddling, marketing, and promotion is part any successful writer or blogger’s life. Here, Goodwin shares the interview skills she learned after becoming a published author. To learn more about her book – which contains encouragement, instructions, and over 200 sentence starts to help you journal any time – You Want Me to Do What? Journaling for Caregivers.

How to Be Interviewed to Promote Your Book – Tips for Authors

I’ve lost count of the number of authors I’ve interviewed for Writer Advice. I interview by e-mail, which gives authors a chance to edit themselves as they respond. That seems like a win-win.

I love interviewing writers who are warm and gracious. Even more, I grab any opportunity to interview writers whose work I love. I want to know their backgrounds, their process, and their unique experiences. I’m eager to learn how they tell a story so that it leaps off the page and touches me deeply.

Here are twelve concrete tips to improve your interview skills as an aspiring or published book author. If you’re interested in television interview skills, read 7 Tips for Television Interviews for Writers.

1. Let the interviewer’s questions guide the angle of your story. Who is the audience? Where will this be published? Barbara Bentley, the author of A Dance With the Devil, tells a different story to a battered women’s group than she did when she shared her experiences as a memoir writer with Writer Advice.

2. Remember that short, accessible tips are useful for some articles. Other venues want to probe into the heart of a writer’s thoughts and processes. Ask, “Does that answer your question?” if you think the interviewer might want more information.

3. Open up a bit. Share something personal that is not in your book or every other interview.

4. Talk as if you are having a conversation with a neighbor you like.

5. If you are answering in writing, proofread your responses.

6. When asked for tips, share generously. 

7. Give specific answers. When I asked Sybil Lockhart, the author of Mother in the Middle, “What advice would you give to people who want to write memoir?” she said, “Write from the heart, include the gory details, and don’t worry that it might have “already been done,” because memoir readers are interested in your unique perspective….” That’s only half her answer, but it’s much more inclusive than, “Read in your genre and write daily.”

8. If the interviewer sets a word limit, respect it. She may have limited space or know how long her audience will stay with an article.

9. If you send double the requested word limit and ask the interviewer to edit what she doesn’t want, you may delay the interview’s publication.

10. If the questions are unclear, ask the interviewer what she means. And f you’re doing a radio interview for the first time, you might find 10 Tips for Doing Radio Interviews for Writers helpful.

11. If she asks you for clarification, be willing to rewrite, expand, or tighten your answer.

12. Enjoy the process. You get free publicity, and the whole process should benefit both of you.  Be grateful when the world gives you opportunities to improve your interview skills and promote your book or blog. Say thank you.

For more ways to promote your book, read Free Book Promotion – 6 Ways to Pimp, Plug, Promote Your Book.

Got questions or tips for authors, on how to be interviewed? Comments welcome below…

B. Lynn Goodwin is the owner of Writer Advice and the author of You Want Me to Do What? Journaling for Caregivers.

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19 thoughts on “How to Be Interviewed to Promote Your Book – Tips for Authors”

  1. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    Kimberly Rae,

    Thanks for your comment – and you’re welcome for helping you on your way to the bestseller list 🙂 I hope these tips for authors help as you keep doing those interviews.

  2. Thank you so much for this very helpful article! Since my suspense novel on human trafficking, Stolen Woman, came out this summer, I’ve been interviewed for newspapers, radio and will do my first TV interview next week. I need all the help I can get!!!

    I’m so happy you mentioned that telling stories and experiences is a plus–that is my favorite way to answer a question, but I wasn’t sure if facts would be more appreciated. Now I will feel much more confident telling anecdotes that keep the interview more personal.

    Thanks for helping me on my way to the bestseller list! =)
    Kimberly Rae
    FB Page: Human Trafficking Stolen Woman

  3. I do most of my interviews by email, too! I far prefer that over telephone interviews, but sometimes worry that magazine editors prefer phone interviews. I think it depends on the article, though…some articles don’t require in-depth interviewing, so email interviews are fine. They sure are less time-consuming!
    .-= Laurie PK´s last blog post ..Blogging Goals – 7 Types of Goals to Set for Your Blog =-.

  4. Alan,

    I do most of my interviews by e-mail. That way I have a print copy and I never have to worry about misquoting. I usually send the completed article to the author for approval or suggested revisions. This system has worked very well for Writer Advice.

    Who do you interview?

    Take care,

    B. Lynn Goodwin
    Author of You Want Me to Do WHAT? Journaling for Caregivers

  5. Hi Alan,

    At this point in my writing career, I’d do my own transcripts. But as I get busier and start earning more money as a writer, I’d definitely start thinking about hiring someone to transcribe my interviews.

    I think it just depends on your Rate of Investment. That is, is my time better spent transcribing, or pitching new magazine articles to editors? The answer is different for different writers…and even for different stages of a writer’s career.

    I hope this helps!

    .-= Laurie PK´s last blog post ..Blogging Goals – 7 Types of Goals to Set for Your Blog =-.

  6. Laurie, I’m always happy to do an article for you.

    George, I did lots of interviews of others before anyone asked for an interview of me. It’s interesting to see it from both sides.

    Take care,


  7. Gosh Laurie, I can only hope to be in a position one day where folks would be interested enough to want an interview.

    When that day comes, I’ll print this out and keep it close!

    .-= George Angus´s last blog post ..SMS – A Review of the Sixty Minute Story =-.

  8. Thanks for this article, Lynn! I appreciate this tips, and know they’ll improve my interview skills when I’m promoting my book one day 🙂
    .-= Laurie PK´s last blog post ..Tips for Introverts – 6 Ways to Reduce Christmas Stress and Anxiety =-.

  9. Traci, Thanks for your insightful comments. No two authors are the same, as you say, and I love helping each one get his or her message out into the world. I wish you all the best with your interviews. If you ever need a guest, feel free to contact me.

    Laurie, I appreciate all the help I’ve had from you getting my messages out there.


  10. I interview authors every week on CTBradio.com
    I find that these tips helpful but I will say that interviewers are always looking to differentiate their experience with the author. So, although you might give preset questions be prepared for additional questions. 9/10 times, the interviewer has done some research on the author and the book. Most likely, they will be happy if they can obtain some new information about you – whether it’s the writing or pubishing process, research discoveries (this happens in fiction too!) or some unknown quirk that makes the author relatable to the listeners.

  11. Mark, I’ve done over 100 interviews for Writer Advice, and those interviews led to the tips I’ve posted, but I would also love to hear what works for other interviewers. Do you do your interviews face-to-face or through e-mail?


  12. Jodi, I agree that it’s great when an author says, “You didn’t ask about…” and adds to the story. BTW, I loved your question to me about what the letter “B” stands for. You handled that exactly right and let me tell another part of my story. WTG! Thanks.


  13. I’ve interviewed an author, hip-hop artist and a church planter (at my Examiner.com page). I’ve tried to ask questions about topics that aren’t easily found on websites, etc. That doesn’t mean I succeed. I would love to find more tips from the interviewer’s perspective.

    Thanks for the post.
    .-= iMark´s last blog post ..Church is boring =-.

  14. Jodi, I agree with you. I think it’s helpful when authors suggest some interview questions. Sometimes these are the best questions! I love it when authors offer me some information they haven’t shared in an interview before. I interview at least one author every month on my blog, authorexposure.com.

  15. I’ve interviewed a few authors and I think the most popular with readers are when authors tell a story as opposed to “Just the facts, ma’am.” I guess that would be Lynn’s #4.

    As an interviewer I also appreciate when an author says at the end “You didn’t ask about X but I thought I’d tell you…” Sometimes I don’t know all the right questions to ask and I don’t mind a little help from the author. I don’t guarantee to use their “add-on” but it never hurts an author to put it our there.