I find coming up with “good” interview questions to be one of the hardest things of book blogging.This is what I do.

I know I might have gone on a tirade last week about originality and apologize for my crassness — but there are alternatives to regurgitated promos and I think if you want your book blog to stand out you have to seek out originality. One way to do this is by doing an interview with the author. Most of the time on a blog tour they will give you an option to do a Guest Post or Interview. But, then the pressure is on you. To be original, to come up with topics, or questions that don’t what…? Sound like the same regurgitated promo pieces. Even if the publisher or host does not give you the option, it doesn’t hurt to ask. A simple:

“Are interviews available with the author?”

Most of the time, when you ask, they encourage interviews. Sometimes they might put restrictions on the number of questions. I’ve had them come back with as little as two, for best-selling authors, to as many as twenty. You won’t know unless you open the lines of communication.

So, how do you ask original questions?
I suffer with this same problem. I feel my questions are redundant and unoriginal. I see interviews on other sites and think they are so much more intuitive then my questions. And hardest of the hard is when I haven’t read the author yet, or it has been awhile since I’ve read the books or series.

Here are some tips and tricks to step out of the box when thinking of questions:

  1. Go seasonal/current — ask them about what is currently going on in the world. If it is a holiday, ask them about their traditions or beliefs.
  2. Know your stuff — do research on the author, find out what they like by reading their other interviews. Ask pertinent questions based on what you’ve read. If you were looking over an interview and a question popped in your head, ask them…don’t be afraid.
  3. Stick to the basics – Ask about inspiration, ambitions and accomplishments
  4. Genre based questions – Ask about the genres that they like and what they write within. Why? Who? How?
  5. Character based questions – Ask them about their favorite characters they wrote, or that others wrote. Difficult or Easy characters to write.
  6. Advice – They are published. Ask them about their road to success, etc.
  7. Unique – You can have a few questions that are the “usual” stock interview questions, but make sure you ask a few questions that are uniquely yours. Do research by searching the internet for other interviews. You can ask these questions for each interview you host. These questions can be anything, to what is their favorite color, or food. Just own the questions and make them fun.

Always remember that the author usually doesn’t mind doing an interview, as long as the questions seem thought out and will help promote their book. Spell check your questions before you send them in, because nothing is more embarrassing then having the author “proof” your questions and send them back to you. Also, it doesn’t have to be a ton of questions. Five simple questions are enough to get a few meaningful answers.

Quick tips if you find yourself blocked:

  1. Go on twitter and get suggestions. Ask your followers, what would you ask XXX author?
  2. Read other interviews of the author, especially the author’s answers. If you find the author could “explain” more about a particular subject ask the same question, but word it different to try and get the author to go into more detail.
  3. Find forums or discussions about the author or the books. See if any questions keep on popping up about the books. Those could inspired very pertinent book based questions.

Reader Question of the Week:

“Should I mention spelling/grammatical errors in a book I’m reviewing. I don’t mean once or twice, but if it is a consistent problem should I let that affect my rating or should I *try* to overlook it?” – Larissa

In my opinion I wouldn’t try to overlook anything. I know a fair share of indies and they pay for editing, they gather Beta readers – they try hard to give you a finished product. If there are enough problems for you to have to try and overlook I feel it is worth mentioning, especially if the book is for sale. There is nothing like paying for a book and finding that the author didn’t even take the time to spell check.

Book Blogging News:

The Global Big Sh*t List has come out via Publisher’s Weekly with Pearson, the parent company of Penguin as number one. Go Penguin! Check out the list here.

I know many of you use the app Instagram and you should be aware that recently they changed their TOS. In their terms they stated that they could use your images in advertising. This brought about a resounding HELL NO from users with many avid Instragram fans deleting their accounts and running away as fast as they could. Instagram has since promised to revise their TOS, but changes are not in stone yet. Read the NYT article here.

Happy Thursday. Talk Less. Read More. Blog with Integrity.

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