The Purpose of Author Interviews

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Naturally, any author will be gratified if someone invites them to participate in an interview. Nevertheless, do these interviews really serve any purpose beside satisfying an interviewee’s narcissistic nature? If so, who will be interested? In answer to the first question most will agree these interviews do have a purpose, as will become evident in the following exegesis. With regard to the second question, perhaps it would be better to ask, who gains from such an interview. There are three potential beneficiaries: The Author; The Reader; The Interviewer.

The Author

Interviews give the author further opportunity, in addition to all the other things they should be doing, to gain extended exposure and to interact with their readers. They may share:

  • insights into who they are as an individual (family background; interests; hobbies; etc.);
  • how and why their books came into being;
  • their creative processes;
  • why their work will appeal to readers;
  • publishing and writing experiences which may help fellow authors;
  • etc.

In responding to interview questions an author should, of course, first and foremost be honest. Subsequently, it is sensible for them to bear in mind the interview will be primarily of interest to their readers and fans. Fellow authors may also enjoy insights into their life, practices and habits from which they may learn and may even choose to emulate.

An acknowledged fact is, many authors are introverts and consequently, shy away from any notion of actual public exposure. Most modern day interviews are conducted in writing (usually by e-mail), or sometimes over the telephone and therefore negate the author’s fears. The author therefore gains all round.

The Reader

It is without question, readers will have the greatest interest in an author interview. After all it is them who purchase and read the books and who are often intrigued to gain some knowledge of who the figure in the background is and how the book(s) came into being. Of course, in the past, most successful authors did not always participate in interviews; their reputation was usually sufficient to gain sells of new publications. However, in those days, most book dust covers, sometimes referred to as dust jackets, (a paper cover that wrapped round the whole book), either on the back or in the front or back flap, included a short biography. Media publications (newspapers, national or international magazines, radio programmes, etc.) would also occasionally highlight an author whose name had become well known. But other than that, interviews were not common place.

A reader may gain the following from an interview:

  • Insight into who the author is as a person;
  • Why the author wrote their book(s);
  • Where the author gets their ideas;
  • What will be of interest to them in a book;
  • etc.

The Interviewer

Though there are mainstream journalists who occasionally interview authors the majority are now conducted by, and published by, bloggers. This is especially true for interviews with independent (indie) authors which, bearing in mind this website and blog have been primarily designed for indie authors as well as readers of their books, this article is principally highlighting, though, undoubtedly most of the points made will apply equally to other interviews, whatever their nature. An important point interviewers should keep in mind is to ensure what they share is pertinent to their audience.

Benefits for the interviewer:

  • Authenticity for their publication (Blog);
  • Good reputation (where interview considered quality);
  • Audience gratitude;
  • Increased visitors and followers (by virtue of the interviewee linking to the interview);
  • Promoting the work of those they admire or whose work’s they enjoy;
  • etc.

Before interviewing anyone the interviewer must ensure they have done their research. Unless they have, the interview may end up a fiasco. At a minimum they should have read at least one of the author’s books and know the genre or genres within which the author chooses to write. If they fail to do this it is very possible their authenticity and reputation will be damaged.

Conclusion

Naturally, the lists provided above are in no way exhaustive. There are any number of aspects a person may be interested in or wish to share. The variety is as diverse as the people themselves.

Out of the three possible beneficiaries mentioned there may be no doubt the reader is the most important because it is they for whom an author writes and publishes, even if it is simply for their own relatives and friends.

The benefits of an interview for the author and interviewer are similar. Both may gain authenticity and greater exposure in an oversubscribed and inundated world.


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