One of the best ways to expand both your network and four following is to participate in author interviews. For a group of people who tend to be heavily introverted, however, this can also be an enormously difficult task. This guide will show you how to create an author FAQ in preparation for your first interviews.
An author FAQ is pretty much what it sounds like: a document that answers some of the most commonly asked interview questions. You can pull these from previous interviews you’ve done, but I’ve also compiled a list in this article for authors who haven’t been interviewed yet.
This guide will walk you through the benefits of having an author FAQ, the questions you should include, and how to use your author FAQ.
The benefits of an author FAQ
As we’ve already discussed, the main benefit of an author FAQ is that it helps you establish answers for common interview questions. This can prevent you from stumbling over your words and keep your answers similar throughout various interviews.
Author FAQs are also excellent ways to simplify your communication with the media and even to connect with fans.
Questions to include in your author FAQ
The questions you want to include are the questions you’re most commonly asked during interviews. If you haven’t done any interviews yet, don’t fret; there are several questions that tend to come up in every author interview, regardless of your genre.
Here’s a list of questions that are commonly asked to authors of all genres:
- When did you start writing?
- What made you decide to become a writer?
- How do you deal with writer’s block?
- Who are some of the authors that inspired you?
- How do you balance writing with having a day job/family?
- Do you base characters off of people you know?
You may also want to contain some genre-specific questions. For example, if you write fantasy or science fiction, you might want to prepare for questions asking if your world is based on a specific place or time period in our own world.
The other type of question you need to prepare for is book-specific questions. Namely, you need a quick, easy way to describe what each book is about.
Other questions you might want to answer for individual books:
- What inspired you to write this book?
- Why is this book important to you?
Finally, in some instances, you might also want to prepare for identity-based questions. This type of question typically comes when your book features a character from a marginalized identity, especially if that identity is one you share.
Here are some examples of this type of question:
- Why did you choose to tell a story about someone with this identity?
- As someone who shares this identity, was writing about a character with this identity cathartic for you?
- What advice would you give to other writers with this identity who might be struggling to find a home for their own stories?
There may also be questions that are specific to your identity. For example, if you’re a queer author who writes queer YA, you might find yourself frequently being asked about your own experiences with coming out or life as a queer teenager.
Updating your author FAQ
Like your author bio, your author FAQ should be a living document. There are three times when you’ll want to update it:
- When a certain question becomes repetitive. If you’re asked the same question three times in a row, you’ll probably hear it again in other interviews. Type out your favorite of the answers you’ve used.
- When you release a new book. As you lead up to a book release, you should draft answers to book-specific questions for it. This gives you ready-made answers to use in blog tours and other things you’re doing to celebrate your release.
- When you or your work goes through a significant change. If you start working in a new genre, win an award, or make a significant change to your writing process, you might want to change the answers to certain questions to reflect this change.
- When you want to change your affiliations. Sometimes we spend years or even decades lauding an author or organization that turns out to be bigoted or abusive in some way. In order to stop giving them a platform, we must remove mentions of these people and organizations from our stock answers. This is painful, but ensures that we are no longer contributing to the cycle of harm.
All in all, you’ll probably find yourself updating this document once a year, maybe even less often if you go 2-3 years between releases.
How to use your author FAQ
Your author FAQ is primarily an internal document. This means that the main reason to have it is for your own reference. However, there are a couple of other ways you can use this document.
First, you can send it to bloggers and journalists who want to feature you in their publications. They can either publish the answers directly on their site or use the list to create more interesting interview questions for you.
Second, you can publish the FAQ on your author website. This lets both fans and media people to gain a better understanding of you and your work. If someone’s on the fence about approaching you for an opportunity, or buying your next book, the FAQ might be what helps them decide.
Final advice on how to create an author FAQ
An author FAQ is a great way to prepare for interviews, ensure consistent branding across appearances, and provide more information to people who might want to work with you. You can build one without ever having done an interview by using common questions in four categories:
- General questions
- Genre-specific questions
- Book-specific questions
- Identity-based questions
For maximum effectiveness, be sure to update your author FAQ every time you publish a new book or series.
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