The Author Interview

If you are going to become an established author, you’re going to be interviewed.

While print interviews are the easiest (writer-posted questions, giving you time to think of your answers), readers want to see and hear an author they have read, or may want to read. It’s best, then, to practice your interview skills so you are prepared for a variety of questions. And before your local television or radio station calls you, the best thing you can do is film your own video as part of your media-marketing package.

Here’s what has worked for me:

1. Write out a list of questions. Keep the first 2-3 questions focused on the book; ask about characters and themes and intent. Try not to give a plot report; the question can do that. Have 1-2 questions introduce YOU to the audience, where they can learn what makes you tick, what makes you happy.

2. Have a friend who speaks well (a fellow writer, perhaps) conduct the interview. The interviewer should hold to 4 to 6 questions; interviews should be held to 5-6 minutes, the average interview we’ve all come to expect while watching tv or listening to the radio.

3. Rehears the interview with the camera set up, but NOT turned on. Get used to the camera staring at you while you practice your answers. This lets you change your answers, make mistakes, improve on your delivery, and be ready for the unanticipated question.

4. Press the “film” button and see how well you’ve prepared. Scary, isn’t it? And the outcome is different than what you practiced. This is okay. It’s all part of the learning process.

5. After three or four takes, you’ll have found your voice, your interviewer will be able to ask the questions clearly, and you’ll have figured out what to do with your hands. Isn’t this fun?

6. Relax now, and make a last take. This is the one where you remember everything you’ve said for each question, and are able to speak fluidly and authoritatively about your work.

7. Upload your interview to your website, Facebook page, YouTube, etc.

8. Ask friends to comment on the interview. Let the public comment as they wish. It’s all part of the process. If you have a thick skin for writerly criticism, you should fair well in front of the camera, too!

Here’s the result of a recent interview of me conducted by Siren & Muse Publishing for my novel, The Village Wit:

  • Mark, from someone who’s never done an interview, and who views with trepidation his first time doing so, thank you for the advice and example.

    • You’re welcome, Rich. And remember, as the old joke advises: “How do you get to Carnegie Hall? Practice, practice, practice!” Good luck.

  • Terry Huston

    Mark, loved your interview. Looks polished and confident. If you don’t mind sharing, are you self published? I’m a new author and have a contract, which I haven’t signed yet, from Tate Publishing. I’ve done quite a bit of research via the internet and most of the comments about Tate are negative. There’s always two sides to a story. I’ve since learned writing your first novel isn’t the hard part, deciding which way to publish and distribute is! Any insights would be welcomed.

    • Hello, Terry, and thanks for your feedback. I am self published, through the Amazon.com platform, with my own imprint, Siren & Muse Publishing. I spent 8 months looking for an agent, few of whom actually wanted to see literary fiction, though they claimed on their websites that was exactly what they were looking for (look deeply into an agent’s list to see what they really publish).

      I have no info on Tate Publishing, so can’t comment. There is always hard & soft sides to publishers. As I have come to think of traditional publishing, if you get a contract, that’s about all you can expect. Otherwise, no ad/mrktg budget, guarantee of reviews, author tour (HA!!), scheduled interviews, etc-etc. What you do get are your books in brick-and-mortar stores … but How many? is the question. In other words, if you’re left to the winds, and are getting just 10-12% royalties, then why not go it alone?

      Good luck. Any more questions, visit me at bibliogrind.com or mark beyer: author on facebook.

  • Terry, I might be wrong about this, but I wouldn’t sign that contract with Tate, which I believe is the usual kind of vanity publisher. You or your lawyer should very carefully read the contract. Does it require you to pay only for having your book “published”? Does it take away from you and give to Tate your rights to your own book — including your right to independently publish it when you realize paying Tate got you nowhere? If you wish to “self-publish” or “independently publish” your book, you should look into Createspace, Lulu, Smashwords, and similar companies. Some of what they’ll do for you is free but not necessarily helpful. They’ll also sell you services you’ll need to truly “self” or “independently” publish your book. Some of their prices are said to be inflated. I suppose that matters to the extent you don’t have money to spend. I’ve truly enjoyed working with Lulu and Smashwords. They never guaranteed me anything, but they did get done what needed to be done. Graciously, too. My book is “out there” where it belongs. What happens to it now is up to me.

  • Great Advice, Mark. Interviews are and a video web presence is becoming more and more influential in generating book sales. I’ve often found that others receive interviews better than our self-perceptions. But just relax and have fun. What’s the worst that can happen?

    Concerning publishers, be sure to research those contracts. I suggest checking out Outskirts Press. They offer a completely non-exclusive contract and allow authors to published under their own imprint entirely. They also offer higher royalties and stronger competitive retail pricing than most. They also receive high marks in author satisfaction. Those other publishers mentioned are popular options, but with more of a DIY focus.



  • Joey Garrett

    My name is Joey Garrett, an acquisitions representative with Tate Publishing, and I’ve noticed some misinformation regarding my company. I would be more than happy to answer any of your questions by calling me at 405-376-4900. As for Mr. Huston, he has been contacted by his acquisitions representative to answer any of his questions.

  • Karl, I’ve had no personal contact with Outskirts Press yet, but when I publish my next novel, I’ll check you out.