I’ve been doing quite a few author Q&As recently so it got me thinking: what makes a great author Q&A?
Here are some tips and suggestions based on my own experience. A lot of these are pretty basic, I know. However, I shudder when I think back to some of my early efforts. Even these simple guidelines would have made my questions a whole lot better.
- Great questions make great answers, I think, so be prepared to invest time in researching and preparing your questions
- Personally, I’m not a fan of standard questionnaires. I believe a set of questions tailored to each author produces more interesting responses. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t have a few questions you use frequently – especially if they’re really good ones!
- Even if you haven’t read the book, you can get ideas for questions by reading the book blurb, the author’s bio, their website or blog. Not only are you likely to come up with better questions but the author will probably appreciate you having taken the time to find out about them and their work.
- Try to find an interesting statement the author has made about their book or their approach to writing that you can ask them to explain.
- 8 to 10 questions seems like the right number to me and ideally the author’s answers should be no more than 150 words. Any more than that and it can start to read like an essay
- Again this is personal preference, but I like to concentrate my questions on the book and the author’s approach to writing. I’m not that interested in their favourite colour or whether they prefer cats or dogs – but each to their own
- Remember, the purpose of your Q&A is to allow the author to talk about their book in such a way that it provokes the interest of potential readers. So ask open questions that allow them to elaborate, explain and discuss their ideas.
- If part of a blog tour, ensure you allow sufficient time for the author to craft thoughtful responses to your questions
- Be polite – you’re not trying to catch them out or be the next Jeremy Paxman!
- Finally, practice makes perfect.
Bloggers – do you have tips for coming up with stimulating interview questions?
Authors – what great (or not so great) questions have you been asked?