Making a Good Author Interview

Over the past few days I have been releasing some of author interviews for my story, The Bluebell Informant. Although I have been doing this to help promote the launch of my new website, it has also served as a good way of promoting the story itself and they stand as a good example of how an author can give a good interview without needing massive media attention or forking out a truck load of money to do it.

I’ve heard it a hundred times from authors who are just starting out:

‘The book isn’t ready to release yet so there is point trying to give interviews about it yet…’

Wrong.

Giving interviews, like the writing itself, is a skill – and not one that you should dismiss quickly. There is no harm promoting your book in this way before it is ready to go out – it will get you used to sitting in front of a camera and talking about your work and will provide you with some much needed practice long before you start trying to push that book into other people’s hands.

Or there is the other comment I hear a lot:

‘No one knows who I am and I can’t afford to hire a professional crew so I can’t make a good interview…’

Wrong. 

Interviews are only as good as the person sitting in front of the camera. A large part of what a professional camera crew will do is make your background look pretty, light you properly and ask you the questions that will get you talking about your book – you can do that all on your own.

Look at vlogs for example. Some of those look extraordinarily good even though they’ve been filmed on a webcam – it is the person talking to the camera that drives it through and makes the content interesting, which means you are the person in control when you give your author interview.

So, now that we got that out of the way, I present to you my behind-the-scenes hints and tips for how I created my interview videos for The Bluebell Informant. 

Hint #1: Know Your Material

You’d think it goes without saying but you’d be surprised how many people think they can just blag about their book – and why not?

I mean, you wrote the thing so how hard can it be?

Well, remember when you spent days and weeks trying to nail that perfect synopsis? This is exactly like that.

When you are on camera you have to have such a clear idea in your mind about what you are going to talk about that the audience instantly trust that you are going to take them on an entertaining ride that they will enjoy. Be confident that your story is as good as you think it is – if you doubt yourself at any point, the audience will see it a mile away.

So, do what you have to do. Maybe you write notes or a short script and practice it for a few days before. But, and this is a huge but, don’t whatever you do…

Hint #2: Don’t Read From A Script

Nothing says ‘I don’t know what I’m talking about’ like reading from a script. You may think you have everyone conned, but it stands out like there is no tomorrow when someone is reading an autocue or a rehearsed set of lines.

You want your interview to sound like it came as a result of a casual chat with your interviewer, not some staged statement. It is alright to go off on a tangent sometimes when you are talking because (and this is the beauty of video) you can always edit it out later.

Hint #3: Get Yourself In the Right Environment

It goes without saying, but filming your interview in an aesthetically pleasing location is going to do nothing but make you look good.

Your professionalism will instantly be called into question if you film your interview outside on a windy day next to a pile of dustbins (unless, of course that is integral to the image you are trying to project for your author brand).

As for myself, I wanted to show the audience a little bit of the space that I work in, so we set up in my study in between my desk, a bookcase and the turtle tank in the corner.

First problem – The turtle tank looked a little worse for wear and dirty.

Not actually a problem – I simply cleaned him out the day before so that I had a nice pristine tank to film next to.

Second problem – The desk and bookcase were both a little messy.

Again – easily solved – I cleared the rubbish off the bookcase and desk and positioned my chair in such a location to hide anything that I didn’t want seen.

Screen Shot 2016-04-06 at 18.18.51

Et voila – a professional looking background with enough interesting things in there to show that I am not just a two-dimensional writer. (Yes, I am aware of the yawning turtle – needless to say it didn’t end up in the final interview – I just like that picture).

Hint #4: Get Someone You Trust to Make You Look Good

As I said before, you don’t need to hire an expensive camera crew – in fact, for you first interview its almost better that you don’t. Giving a first interview is unnerving enough without having a load of professionals staring at you.

For this interview, I was a little lucky because I had access to a half decent camera and a light box to help light me up. As for the operator, I asked my fiancee to operate the camera and ask me some interview questions (that I prepared verbally with her in advance).

Instantly, I was more relaxed and confident because I knew that it didn’t matter if I screwed up because I wasn’t wasting any money and that, if something was going wrong, my fiancee would quite happily stop me and talk me through it (not something an interview crew will do for you).

The rest just comes down to…

Hint #5: Check the Interview Before You Upload it

There is nothing more horrific than going back to an interview you gave three months ago only to discover that, somewhere during the editing process, a clip of you picking your nose got slipped in.

I cannot highlight this one enough. Check what you upload. 

Anyway, that’s all from me for this post.

If you’re interested in the rest of the Bluebell Interviews, they will be being uploaded over the next day or two. If you have any questions or comments feel free to leave them down below and, if your haven’t already, hit that subscribe button for all my latest hints, tips and general life related posts.

All the best.

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