Ask Me Anything – Author Interviews & Giveaways

This question comes from Erika @ One a Day Y.A.

How do you set up your author interviews for books you are also reviewing? Do you wait until after you read the book or send them the interview beforehand? How long does it usually take for authors to get back to you with their answers? What is the best method you’ve found for getting authors interested in participating on your blog?

Perhaps I should rename my blog…. I am a Rambler, Not a Writer… Warning… Long Rambling Reply Ahead!  And an apology… I don’t intend to post these Ask Me Anything posts this often but I hit publish before scheduling this for a future date.

In all honesty my reviews and interviews are typically separate and not connected. The only exception is if I am participating in a blog tour. The way I do things has changed over time so what I do now would not be the same thing a blogger who is just starting out would do.

My turn around time for reviews is not very fast and I have to turn away most requests I receive for book reviews.  I hate to turn people away so instead I feature the author’s book by doing an author interview in conjunction with a giveaway.  I know some bloggers aren’t comfortable doing this and won’t feature a book unless they’ve read it, but my philosophy is different.

In my recent reader survey I asked the following question:

I feature a lot of first time & self published authors on my site – what do you think of this? Part of the reason I do this is because I feel everyone deserves their 15 minutes of fame and I know it’s hard for unknown authors to get their books out there so I like to give them a chance.

This was an optional question and I was surprised by the answers I got.

1055 people filled out the survey – 948 left a comment to answer the question.  I read through every answer and there were only a couple dozen people who didn’t like that I featured self published authors. I honestly thought this number would be a lot higher. Their reasons were that often the books are poorly edited or that they just don’t read self published books because they don’t have time or hadn’t had good luck with them.

The other 900+ responses were along the lines of – Wonderful, I love it, Great idea, awesome, amazing, thanks for doing this, etc.  Looks like I’ll keep doing what I’m doing.

So here is how I set up my interviews & giveaways.

When an author contacts me for a book review that I can’t accept I reply with something like this:

I am currently behind on my reviews and not accepting anything new at this time.
If you are interested in having your book featured on my site details about doing an interview & giveaway are below.
I have put together a list of Reviewers who are accepting books: (I include the link to my spreadsheet).
Thanks,
Kathy

I then cut and paste my Interview/Giveaway information in to my reply.
For the interview I send a list of 50 questions and ask them to pick their favorites. Currently I require a giveaway in conjunction with an interview unless I’m the one approaching an author.
For the giveaways I host the giveaway on my site and then send the author the winners information.  I ask where they are willing to ship to and which format of their book they are giving away. I ask them to attach pictures, their bio, book cover & summary, links to their website & social media sites, etc.  I also ask about their target audience and the rating they would give their book (G, PG, PG-13 or R) and why.  I include the following:  (Please be aware that I do not read or promote books full of strong language, graphic sex or gratuitous violence).

Once I receive their response the interview/giveaway goes into my “Ready to Post” file and I post interviews & giveaways in the order I receive them.

If the author has filled out all the information and included everything I need it doesn’t take me long to get a post up.

Approaching an Author to do an interview or giveaways:

You are probably thinking… that is all great but I don’t have authors emailing me asking for book reviews.  How do I get started?

First – Make sure your blog is established. Unless you already have connections (perhaps your family member works for a publisher) you need to have an established blog that you have been posting on consistently.  If you aren’t there yet then work on your blog by posting reviews, connecting with other bloggers, building a following… There are no numbers that say your blog is ready… each blog is different.  I was contacted by authors before I started contacting them.  It doesn’t have to be the same for you.

Next – Start small!  If you think you are going to email Stephenie Meyer, James Patterson, Nicholas Sparks or some other big name author and get an interview you are probably going to have your dreams dashed.  I still get ignored and rejected when I ask for things.
If you start with a lesser know, first time author you will have better luck.  So find a new author whose book interests you and read their book. It doesn’t have to be self published but you’ll likely have better luck if it comes from a smaller publisher.

Then – Contact the author. Tell them you just read and loved their book and would love to feature them on your site by doing an interview.  Share a link to your blog or review of their book.  And then go find another book and try again. Don’t be frustrated if you don’t hear back.  Just move on to the next book.

I’m not sure I even answered the questions Erika asked…

How do you set up your author interviews for books you are also reviewing?
Typically my reviews & interviews are separate.  I’ll often do an interview & giveaway without doing a review or post the interview and giveaway now with my review being several months in the future when I finally read the book.

Do you wait until after you read the book or send them the interview beforehand?
Usually I don’t contact authors for interviews unless I’ve read and loved their book. If I contact an author I will do just an interview.  If they contact me I will do an interview/giveaway without reviewing. In the past I have contacted many author who I knew were trying to promote their book and asked if they would like to do an interview/giveaway or have their book reviewed.  At this point most of the authors I feature have come to me.

How long does it usually take for authors to get back to you with their answers?
Most authors get back to me within a week.  If I don’t hear back I assume they are not interested.

What is the best method you’ve found for getting authors interested in participating on your blog?
I send them a message telling them I enjoyed their book and would love to feature them on my blog.

Do you have a question for me? Send me an email toobusyreading(at)gmail(dot)com or fill out the form below.