Pretend You’re an Interviewer
For an upcoming project, we’re looking at how writers are getting their work out there. Publishing, marketing, sales, promotion, PR, events, anything. How are they doing it? How well is it working?
I was at a book launch party and talking to a writer I’ve known for years. His book is just out (in India only at this point) and I was thinking about the interview process. I feel like I’d be a terrible interviewer. I feel like I’m just not informed/educated/knowledgable enough to know what questions to ask. In what order? HOw long do I let him talk? When do I break in? Maybe I’m over analyzing … What are the basics? How could this guy’s experience help others? If he’s doing something right, would he be willing to share it? How was I going to know? Have another glass of wine and ASK.
Don’t only ask what you’re interested in, ask what your readers might be interested in.
With the goal of providing helpful content for writers, I asked different questions. I asked more questions. I followed up with other questions based on his answers. I tried to put myself in the shoes of new writers and ask what they might ask. It was helpful, we talked for quite a while, but it was also something more: it was fun.
He’s smack in the middle of selling his U.S. book rights. He recently got an agent in New York (after years of trying). He’s been talking with Bollywood and working on a screenplay. The more I asked, the more he told. He was thrilled by it all–and so was I.
This magic could work in all sorts of situations: dating, corporate holiday parties, family dinners.
I got to know the guy quite a bit better. He opened up about some of the tougher negotiations he had with New York agents, the back and forth it took to finally get to the happy medium version. The fees to the attorney. The nitty gritty you also don’t want to hear about–but need to. We had to stop talking because the event was about to start, but we weren’t done. I wasn’t done with my “interview.”
Now that I’m safe and sound in the solitary of my own mind, uh, house, I can improve my interviewing skills. I’m sure there are some great books on the subject. I’m looking forward to learning more. Here’s a quick search:
- 20 Interviewing Tips for Journalists
- 13 Simple Journalist Techniques for Effective Interviews
- 30 Tips on How to Interview Like a Journalist