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May 03, 2006

Author Interviews on By The Way

Okay, I'm having a thought here. As most of you know, I've been fairly well served by the online world in the promotion and selling of my books. As most of you also know, I have an AOL Journal where, among other things, I like to do regular weekly features for the benefit of the AOL Journalers and others who read the site. At the moment I have a Photo Shoot on Mondays, a Weekend Assignment on Thursdays, and a music selection on Fridays. I'm going to add a poll on Tuesdays, but that leaves me Wednesdays free. And what I'd like to do on Wednesday is an author interview.

Possible benefits for authors: Well, my AOL Journal has similar traffic to this site; like this site, sometimes it's up, and sometimes it's down, but it's always a pretty substantial crowd. And of course I'll link in from here when an interview goes up -- the two sites have largely independent audiences, from what I can tell, so the overall audience could be pretty significant. The folks who read my AOL Journal are people who are already interested in literature and good reads, so that's good, too. There may be other benefits in terms of promotion, etc, but a lot depends on how I handle my end of things. Bear in mind this is not an official AOL thing -- it's just me doing my thing on my AOL Journal.

What do I get out of it? Well, it brings some attention to my AOL Journal, and possibly to other things of interest over on AOL. As AOL helps me pay my mortage, I'm inclined to return the favor and help it build an audience with its Journal stuff.

Anyway. I'm thinking the interviews will be quick hits -- five or six questions, not a whole lot of depth but enough to make people interested in the author and the book. Think like an Entertainment Weekly sidebar interview, and we'll be on the right track.

I'm going to contact some folks directly for the first couple of weeks, but after that I'm a blank. If you're interested in participating, you can contact me or have your publicist contact me. Use my Publicist Guidelines for information on how to do that. Generally, here's what I'm looking for:

1. When you send in the interview request, PLEASE put the subject line as follows: "AUTHOR INTERVIEW REQUEST: (author name, book title)." In the e-mail itself, briefly introduce yourself, talk about the subject of your book, and name the publisher and release date. All this information will allow me to distinguish your e-mail from the vasty mass of spam I get every day.

2. Your book needs to be published by someone other than you (i.e., no vanity or POD books), and you have to have been paid more than a $1 advance for your book. Small presses are fine (some my books are small press books), but they need to be legit small presses. Who is the arbiter of what is a legitimate publisher and what is not? Why, that would be me.

3. Any genre is fine; I suspect I'll get a lot of science fiction and fantasy right off the bat because those are the playgrounds I play in, and that's fine because I love me the SF/F. However, my AOL Journal audience is not primarily or exclusively an SF/F audience, and I'd like to promote authors of all sorts. Non-fiction authors are equally welcome. First-time authors are also welcome.

4. I'll want to time author interviews so they come out within two weeks of their latest books hitting stores, so I'm looking for authors with upcoming books (as opposed to books currently in the stores).

5. You have to be willing to do the interview by e-mail (because it's time-efficient for me, that's why).

6. It would be helpful if you could convince your publisher to send along a copy of the book in question (ARCs are fine). You know, so I can at least pretend to know what I'm interviewing you about. Again, check the Publicist Guidelines for details on how to do that.

If you (or your publicist) has any questions, just drop me an e-mail or put it in the comment thread attached to this entry. Also, of course, feel free to share around this information with the authors and publicists you know.

My plan for the moment is to try a couple months of these, see how they work, and make adjustments from there. Hopefully, these will be something that will be fun and have a real benefit of helping authors meet readers. It's worked for me, anyway.

Posted by john at May 3, 2006 03:04 PM

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Paul | May 3, 2006 04:21 PM

Who is the arbiter of what is a legitimate publisher and what is not? Why, that would be me.

An example of what I like about reading John Scalzi.

Anne C. | May 3, 2006 04:26 PM

All part of John's Big Plan to get free books for the rest of his life!

John Scalzi | May 3, 2006 04:28 PM

Rats, you've found me out!

Dawn B. | May 3, 2006 05:36 PM

Note to self: Get book published to take advantage of offer.

Dawn B. | May 3, 2006 05:38 PM

All part of John's Big Plan to get free books for the rest of his life!

Why do you think Charles runs Locus? I mean, seriously. The man get all his books for free.

John Scalzi | May 3, 2006 05:47 PM

Ironically, I make a point of buying the books of my friends and authors whose work I like, on the grounds that actually paying them money is one of the most complimentary things you can do. However, if one is going to try to tie an interview to the release date of the book, one needs to see the book beforehand.

Djscman | May 4, 2006 01:18 AM

Wait a sec...do you want to interview or be interviewed by these authors?

Each Wednesday a new up-and-comer interviews noted author John Scalzi! What will they ask him? What editorial slants will they take? What biases will they try to conceal? Will they...GO THERE? As the series continues, will the interviewers plod over the same ground? Or will they stand on the shoulders of the giants before them, reaching new heights of journalistic splendor?

Could be cool. I say, pick up the pilot and get an option for thirteen episodes.

Jess Nevins | May 4, 2006 06:52 AM

Fooey...my last book came out in November, my next one won't be out until Fall, 2007.

cherie priest | May 4, 2006 02:30 PM

Hmm. Wings to the Kingdom won't be out until this fall, but if you remind me at Wiscon, I'll raise my hand then and say, "Ooh! Ooh! Pick me!"

Smurf | May 5, 2006 11:21 AM

Would AOL get pissed at you if you just went all-out whoring your books on BTW? "OK, people... here's today's photo shoot... do it while you read "Old Man's Ghost" and order the sequel from Amazon."

I vote for S+M Wednesdays.

John Scalzi | May 5, 2006 11:26 AM


"Would AOL get pissed at you if you just went all-out whoring your books on BTW?"

Possibly, but that's not the only reason I don't do it over there. I don't do the book-whore thing there because I don't really see it as the mission of BTW to be about a whole lot of personal self-promotion. God knows I do enough of it here; book-whoring at two sites would be a little much.

Mindy Klasky | May 6, 2006 11:17 AM

How much lead time do you need to conduct an interview? If, for example, an author had a book coming out on October 1, when should she contact you to send you an ARC and see if you're interested? (And if the book was a paranormal chick-lit, about a librarian who finds out that she's a witch, would you venture in, or give the ARC to someone more, um, chick-lit-y?)

Rachel Brown | August 22, 2006 05:06 PM

Would be interested in an upcoming first-time-in-paperback release, or is it first printings only? The trade paperback of my memoir about growing up on an ashram in India filled with crazy American hippies is coming out in October.

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