Saturday, September 13, 2014

Blogger to Author (2)--making an interview/guest post shine

Blogger to Author is a bit of an advice column for authors with tips and suggestions about working with bloggers, blogging in general and making the most of the platform.

Am I the be all and end all of bloggers? ::snort:: Hell no. But after near 3 years of blogging I've noticed trends and methods I think can help or harm authors and their goals and wanted to put something together to hopefully create better author/blogger relations and help authors who may not be bloggers present themselves if ways that may show them off better. It's all based on interactions that have happened here on herding cats & burning soup over the years. From sending requests to guest posting and what works best on the blogger side of things with this or that. While it might not all apply to every author/blogger it will hopefully give a bit of a starting point for discussions. 
Annnnd we're back with our second Blogger to Author chat! This time it's all about guest posts and interviews. Posts that can totally charm the reader or wind up being a little bit flat. I read somewhere that the average blog visit lasts less than a minute with people deciding if they're going to stick around and read the post within 10 seconds. That's...a lot of pressure. And how you start out a post/reply to questions can have a lot to do with keeping people on that page to see what you have to say.
I'm going to focus on those being interviewed for this post but a lot of this applies to those interviewing as well. And while I think these are good universal rules there are also, of course, exceptions to the "rules".

Jumping in...Obviously you don't want things to be flat. Just like in interviews or guest posts if it's's gonna make eyes glaze over and not grab anyone's attention. You want to get people engaged, interacting and wanting to read more from you and the best way to do that is to snag their attention and make them comfortable. Where they finish the interview or guest post and instantly want to grab up the book or whatever it is because you've made such an impression on them.

The quick of it...treat these posts like you would a conversation you were having in person or on the phone. Those include greetings, good-byes and the right balance of info. You wouldn't go up to someone on the street and the first thing you say to them is...My book is about XYZ...then walk away. So why do that in an interview?

The points/examples I'm using are from seeing what works with readers and gets them engaged here on the blog as well as from when I've been interviewed. I've had a lot of authors on the blog the last 3 years for both and some themes really pop out in the oh that rocked or ah that was a bit of a miss categories.

With that being said...
It makes for a nice start to things that isn't quite so abrupt. 

If the interviewer starts out with a....
Hi Author X! Welcome to the blog! It's so nice to have you here this morning. I can't wait to hear about your book. Could you tell us a little about it?
Which would grab you more?
Author One: Aw thanks so much for having me! *waves* hi guys! Alright so Book X is about...
Author Two: Book X is about two characters who... 
To me Author One comes off friendlier and it just flows nicer than skipping the niceties and going straight for the info like Author Two. It's just dry and while it gets the same info out there, isn't as engaging.

Even if the interviewer comes with a straight question and no intro--Can you tell us about your book?-- you can still wing a more engaging response with something like...Oh yes definitely. Thanks so much for having me on to chat about it...this one is all about x, y and z.

Sometimes a one word answer is all that's needed for a question but it can also be a missed opportunity and a huge chance to get someone laughing, smiling, nodding along with you...wanting to give you and your book a chance.

For example...

If you could go anywhere in the world...where would you go?
Author One: Scotland 
Author Two: Oh my gosh. Scotland. Hands down. The views. The whisky. Getting a chance to peek under some kilts and see if it's really true about Scotsmen and what they don under them. *looks around innocently* Bwaha. Yes. Scotland. The accents wouldn't hurt a bit either. *swoons*
Which one is going to get you excited and wanting to hang out with the author? I've gotten the "Scotland" answer for an interview. I think the whole interview on their side was under 50 words. It...was not an exciting interview and even though the book looked interesting I was left going okay but if the book is anything like this interview... Ya know?

On the other hand I've had an author come on whose book I really wasn't interested in--it wasn't my genre--and she rocked the fucking interview. I mean. It was awesome. And I immediately bought her book and read it. That night. And I loved the book. She won me over with that interview and I had to give her book a chance. She was definitely of the second Author variety. 

While you can't go as wild on all blogs as you could on mine you can definitely do more than a one word reply to really paint a visual. If you love pubs or nature or exploring new cultures add that in on a question like this and paint that picture of why you would go there and it's your pick.

{Says the girl writing a massively long post right now. Bwahaha}

Hand in hand with not going too short...people have short attention spans. You need to snag em, give enough info but not go overboard. If each reply is 3 paragraphs long when it was a simple question... people are going to give up. If you're going to do longer answers/posts it's a big risk of people tuning you out unless there is just an incredible hook in those long replies it's best to keep things relatively short winded. 

Ex--I used to ask... Can you tell us a little about your book? And I'd get 4 paragraphs. The blurb--don't do that! please! Everyone can look up the blurb give them something from the heart here--and then paragraphs about multiple characters and the romance and on and on. I'd tune out myself just formatting it.

So now I give authors 10 seconds on that. Say you have 10 seconds to hook someone on X's story. What would you tell them? 

And it works. Boil it down and just give a couple sentences on something like that. Not 5 paragraphs. Or people skim...and check out.

It can make a world of difference. Most people don't finish a phone conversation and just hang up the phone without some sort of good-bye. Same goes for an interview (or guest post). Don't leave them abruptly. Ease them out of the interview or topic you're talking about.

Thanks so much for having me on the blog today! It was so nice visiting and getting to share a little about my characters. Hope yall have a great day! 

(or ask a question if the blogger is okay with it).

I had such a good time visiting with yall today. Thanks for having me! Now. Yall know all about my Scotland, erm, obsession...where would yall love to visit and why?

Alright. That's it from me today yall. Overall. Just treat these types of posts like you would a real life conversation. You're talking to your readers or potential readers via these posts and you want them excited and eager to try out your books. It might sound like minor bits and pieces but they can really make all the difference in my opinion.

So what about yall?
Are there other tips you'd give for interviews/guest posts and making them shine?
Readers...what do you like seeing? What catches your attention?

Previous Blogger to Author Chats!

That First Meet--reaching out to bloggers

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[Are you a blogger? Leave your link so I can visit you too! ~Anna]

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