How to Plan and Host Your Writer Interview Series
You wanna host a writer interview series, huh? Great! Before getting started, you need to know why you’re conducting this interview series. What is its purpose and what do you hope you and your readers gain? If you’re stuck, think about a problem your readers mentioned. Create your interview series as a way to provide answers your readers need.
For example, in my May series, every writer I interviewed revealed how they gave themselves permission to write authentically. Writing authentically is a huge struggle for some writers. The May series served as a way for writers to learn tips on how they, too, can write authentically and unapologetically.
Got your purpose in mind? Good. Let's start thinking about who you want to interview.
I know you know tons of writers, but you need to choose only writers who can best help you reach your overall goal. Grab a pen and notepad, friend. Make a list of potential interviewees who would be a great fit for your series. Are you looking for writers from a specific genre or with a certain skill level? Whoever you choose, your interviewees should add value to your readers’ knowledge.
You may be wondering what to do if you don't have enough writers to interview. If this is the case, you can always reach out to others via social media. Who knows? You may know someone who knows someone else who would be a perfect fit for your interview series. Whatever you do, consider having a screening process. Check out the potential interviewee's website, blog, and social media platforms. Ask yourself if this person aligns with what you’re looking for.
Don’t be afraid to pitch to writers you know would add value to your interview series. This is a mistake I made. I wanted to pitch my idea to three writers I admire, but I chickened out! (more about this in another post) Fortunately, I was still able to attract enough writers for my May series.
See A Seat at the Writer's Table
I’m a pretty big (over) planner. So, I thought it would be great to create a list of questions to ask each interviewee. After checking out each person’s website and social media handles, I was able to tailor my questions to that person’s area of expertise. You don’t have to do that, but I feel like it lets your interviewee know you’ve done your homework.
Once you have your list of questions, you need to decide how to conduct your interviews. If you're fortunate, you’ll be able to use video to record your writer interviews. Your readers will love putting a face to a name. Watching your interviews also helps your readers feel more connected to you and your special guests. However, if your schedules do not align, you can always email your list of questions and have them respond that way. Email interviews can be a little less personal, but they still give your readers access to a wealth of knowledge.
If you’re using Zoom to conduct your interviews, just remember to ask your interviewees to choose the video option (if that’s your preference). I forgot to do that with two of my special guests and I had a few people who were bummed because they could only see me on the recording.
When planning your writer interview series, decide how long you will need to conduct each interview. One big mistake I made when doing my May series is that I did not give myself enough time to record and schedule the interviews. I wasn’t sure how long it would take to complete everything, especially since I ended up with twice the amount of writers interested than I anticipated!
Look at your calendar and choose dates you’re available to record the interviews. Give yourself time to edit the videos if necessary, too. You may end up with an interview where the volume is an issue (like one of mine), and need someone to help you fix that problem. It’s best to give yourself enough wiggle room so you’re not stressed when trying to meet deadlines.
Not only do you need time to record and edit the interviews, but you also need time to summarize or do some sort of write-up about it on your blog. I’ve seen some writers provide a transcript of the interview, however, I chose to tell my top three takeaways from each interview in my May series. Do your best to work ahead of schedule and batch as much of the process as possible. Trust me, you’ll thank yourself later!
A great way to encourage interest in your upcoming interview series is to create promos. If you’re on a budget, no shame. You don’t have to hire a graphic designer to pull off stunning visuals. Try your hand at using some FREE 99 templates in Canva or Snappa. Or get a little creative and come up with your own design.
When in doubt, go simple. Minimalism is all the rage these days, and a super clean design will help your audience focus on the important details. Speaking of details, don’t forget to include the name of the series (if applicable), the date(s), where they can find the interviews, and maybe even a teaser of who they can expect to hear from.
When posting your promos, make sure to create separate images for each platform. Use the same image, but make sure the size is appropriate for each platform. Don't forget to also create a promo for your header on Facebook and Twitter! Here are some examples of something simple I created in Snappa to promote my May interview series.
Now, I know this process may sound like a lot of work (and it is, lol). However, I want you to consider mailing handwritten thank you cards. It’s not a requirement, but it does add just the right personal touch. I tried to be secretive by looking on my interviewees’ websites and email footers, but alas, I had to spill the beans to a few of them. I really wanted to show my participants that I valued their time and I hope they enjoyed collaborating with me. Remember, friend. It’s all about building genuine relationships with others in your industry.