What Questions Should I Ask?

When I first began my journey into serious writing, I seemed to see, everywhere, that writers needed to establish themselves as a presence through Facebook, tweets, setting up a blog, probably even Pinterest. I was a little intimidated by that at first.

Later, with a Facebook membership and some beginnings of stories, my husband and I decided to start a new critique group with another couple who were both writing. As we got underway, I wondered if we should set up a blog spot which all of us could use. We published approximately every other day, so that in two weeks’ time, we’d covered every day of the week. Some of the blogs were just for fun. Tuesday’s Tutor became my bailiwick, having taught English, among other things, for so many years in Utah’s high schools, colleges, and universities. I was of the opinion that blogs could be helpful if, for nothing else, having someone else to ask for answers about writing problems. We ran our blog for well over two years.

One of the most popular things we ran was interviews with other authors. I still believe it’s a great way to connect to published authors, and to wanna be’s, who are eager to find what published authors have to say. And what newly published author wouldn’t want to answer questions for an online interview that lots of people might see?

An “interview” can usually be accomplished online without being too time consuming or intense. One of the easier ways to do this is to keep a list of prospective questions about one of your chosen author’s strengths — (add to that list as you write more interviews, or read interviews with interesting or quirky questions). For instance, I have a writing friend who writes detailed books, often about ancient times and cultures. I always wondered about her research, and how she kept it all straight, so after a brief intro to introduce my friend and what types of writing she does, I listed her answers to the following questions:

Questions for a writer who does extensive research because of time period, place, or difficult subject:

I’ve always admired your extensive research. Can you describe the research process you follow?

How do you keep all your notes, research and ideas organized?

How long have you been publishing books which have required this kind of research, and how are your research methods different now than when you began?

What has been the most challenging part of your recent research?

What do you do if you hit a wall in trying to find out certain information? What resources could you recommend for authors writing about ancient times, which you do so frequently?

You’ve talked, recently, about going into self-publishing. What advantage do you see, at this stage in your career, in such a move?

What drawbacks are there? Do you have out-of-print books you’d like to republish on your own?

Please tell us about the contracts you have just signed, and when these new books will be available.

With such a list of questions, sent a week or more before you need your interviewee’s answers, you can cobble together an informative and interesting blog. If you work enough in advance, you may also be able to send a few extra questions which come up as you read the original answers. Another friend, after having published four or five books, became fascinated with the change the industry was going through from publishing houses to self-publishing. So I thought I’d get some answers from her as well.

For a published author of multiple books, including series, who is contemplating self-publishing:

I know you have decided to go to e-publishing. What prompted this change?

What kinds of information and/or contacts did you need to accomplish this, and how did you find them?

What was the easiest part of making this kind of transition? What was the most difficult part?

What has been most rewarding about this transition?

What would you advise someone who has never published in the traditional way before setting to e-pub?

Will you continue to e-pub, even with your new novels?

What new project are you working on now?

Please give us the names of your books? Which, if any, are still available in hard copies?

Anything else you’d like to add?

On occasion, I see blog “interviews” which have two or three quirky questions as part of the interview, like what’s your favorite flavor of pizza? Or, if you were starving would you rather eat a bug or a rat? Also, be sure to ask all interviewees for the names and publication dates of any new or coming books. This addition to your “thank you” at the end of the blog can add to the author’s sales as well, and who wouldn’t like THAT?

Next week, I’ll add some more questions for other types of writers/artists.