Note to Interviewers talking to Writers

Every writer and his/her half brother is taking a blog tour these days.

Tours are designed around the following premise: If an unknown author with a new book to talk about answers a series of canned questions on a series of unknown blogs, s/he will experience something or other.

Perhaps something or other is the knowledge that, “hey, I gave the publicity thing a shot.”

Unfortunately, that something or other doesn’t often include sales unless the author has conned Uncle Jim from Peoria and Aunt Thelma from Grand Rapids into buying a copy and posting a 5-star review on Amazon because that’s what family is all about.

Lousy Questions

If you’ve ever read one of these blog “interviews,” there’s a good chance you’ve read them all. Why? Because every author sees the same series of canned questions. Why? Because the person serving as the host doesn’t want to go to the trouble to learn anything about the author or the book and ask the kind of questions a good reporter might ask.

The first question is usually this: So, tell us, Zeke [or whoever] when did you first know you wanted to become a writer?

LORD HAVE MERCY. Nobody cares. Nobody wants to hear that Zeke was staring out the kindergarten window one fine spring day and though, holy crap, I’m destined to be a writer.

This is not only boring, but it gives absolutely nothing to the suffering prospective reader. Just what, in a gushy rendering of that kindergarten experience, will make the reader buy Zeke’s book?


While blog tour hosts aren’t pimps for authors or a PR flaks for the books, the least they can do is ask a question that’s interesting enough to tempt the reader into reading the answer.


Get a fact sheet from the author and then write the questions. If Zeke wrote his book while digging graves in a cemetery, ask something like: “Is it true that dead men tell no tales?”

If Zeke’s book is a true story about his quest to find the giant green lizards in the Sierra Madres of the northern Philippines, ask something like, “Why did you spend a year of your life looking for a lizard?” Or, “Once that green lizard got a hold of your leg, did you begin thinking right then how you were going to tell your story?”

My premise: If I enjoy reading the interview with the author, I’m more likely to go find out more about the book.

It stands to reason that is Zeke’s book is called EATEN BY LIZARDS IN THE SIERRA MADRE, then we might want to skip over his kindergarten experience and get right to the good stuff.

Copyright (c) 2010 by Malcolm R. Campbell, who doesn’t even remember kindergarten, much less what the hell possessed him to become a writer.

Campbell is author of “Jock Stewart and the Missing Sea of Fire,” a novel that mixes sex and satire into a sweet story about murder and theft.

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