Sunday, April 12, 2015

Why You Should Create an Author Q&A for Your Site

The first time I told someone that I was writing a book, I received a curious look and a nod, though the person didn’t ask too many questions beyond what the book was about.  They tuned out when they heard Romance, or Paranormal Romance.  They didn’t ask too many questions beyond the premise or the genre.  When I told people that I had published a book, suddenly their interest level grew.  When they had the hard copy of the book in their hands, it was a completely different reaction.  They were surprised that I had published a book and started asking all kinds of questions.  Most people said they had never personally known anyone who had written a book.  They looked at me differently.  They were excited for me, but it was beyond that, it was like they were excited that they had met a real live author.  It was strange since I hadn’t changed and I had been writing my series secretly for over three years, so I didn’t understand their reaction.  That’s when I realized that I had accomplished something that not everyone had done; I had made my dream a reality.  

Oh My God, You Wrote a Book, How Cool!  While I wasn’t prepared for the new way that they looked at me, I wasn’t prepared for their questions either.  Now, the questions were more about how I had accomplished this goal and what had inspired me to write a book.  I had never thought about these questions before, since I had always wanted to write a book, and had actually written a few that I wasn’t happy with as far back as high school.  To me, it was a fact that I wanted to write and I had found a way to do it.  I couldn’t figure out why people suddenly cared about these kinds of answers.  It took some time for me to understand that they were interested because it was something that they either thought was an impossible task, or had always wanted to do, but never had the chance.  People are always interested in others who do something they think is impossible, or that they would never be able to do.  I had to accept that they wanted to know more about me and that I had to tell them something.

I had spent so much time thinking of ways to promote my book.  I had never given a thought to promoting myself.  I didn’t have an interesting bio line for my book because I didn’t think I was all that interesting.  It dawned on me that authors could be as interesting as their book.  People want to know how you accomplished your dream.  They want to know how you managed to do something they have never done before.  That’s where the Author Question & Answer becomes important. 

Wow!  How Did You Ever Manage to Write a Book?  Taking the time to create questions that people might be interested in and crafting an honest and interesting answer is important for writers to do.  Our books go off into the world and we never interact with most of the people reading them.  One way to interact with them is set up a Q&A on your blog, or your website so that people can learn more about you, especially if you are creating a series and want readers to become more familiar with you and your work.  

I started off with basic questions for my Q&A, questions that I had been asked by people I knew.

“What inspired you to write a book?”
“Why did you decide to write this genre?”
“How long have you been writing?”
“How did you manage to find time to write a book and publish it?”
“How did you come with the idea for the book?”

These are just some examples of questions that seemed to come up over and over again.  At first, I really didn’t have an answer for them because I never dwelled on it.  After I thought about the questions, I still didn’t know what to say because I had always been quiet about my writing.  I never thought I would have to plaster my life story on a billboard. I could talk all day long about my characters and my story, but I’m just the shy girl sitting in front of her computer writing down the stories in her imagination.  Who cares about me and what I do aside from writing?  I realized that by learning about me, as the author, they might glean some insight into how they might accomplish their own goals.  “If she could do it, I could do it!”  Other people were just surprised that they didn’t know me as well as they had thought.

Talking about yourself can be tough for some people, so it’s best to have some kind of a prepared answer so that you don’t come off sounding like a babbling moron.  You are a writer, for goodness sake, so sound like you know how to string two sentences together.  Think about these questions and be prepared to give people a glimpse into your world and your imagination.  Your answer doesn’t have to be long, but it should give the reader something to take away with them.

How Did You Create That Character?  Once you have down the basic answers about you and why you are writing, you will need to tackle more difficult questions for your Q&A.  You will have to answer questions about your books, but in reference to you writing about the books.  You have already given your book blurb and your readers already know the plot and the fact that the villain dies, but now they want to know what it was like to write their favorite book, or their favorite scene, or their favorite character.  Now you have the write the Book Q&A.

The Book Q&A isn’t about the how your main character is destined to end the world; it’s about how you came up with the concept.  What made you write about her?  Your readers are curious about your writing process and why you made certain decisions.  These questions can be difficult to tackle because most likely you were writing and the idea came to you and wrote it down.  Now you have to explain your decisions and satisfy the reader’s curiosity about the story you wrote.  

Here are some basic questions:

What was the hardest scene to write?
What’s your favorite part of the book?
What was the motivation for your main character to (do whatever he did)?
Who is your favorite character to write for?
How did you come up with these characters?
How do you give each character their own personality and voice?

To answer these questions, think about them from the reader’s perspective.  They love your characters, or hate the bad guys.  They want to know how their love story was created, or if you knew someone like him or her.  Are any of the characters based on someone you know?  When readers have an emotional response to your book or characters, they want to know more about them.  They want to feel closer to them and make them more real, beyond the pages of the book.  There are even role-playing sites set for books and characters.  Just because you wrote the characters doesn’t mean they will stay yours forever.  Readers will want to experience them in different kinds of way.  Give them what they want and make them fall in love with your stories.

I’m So Excited for the Next Book!  If you are planning to write a series, or already have one in the works, don’t let your readers down.  Give them a taste of what is to come.  If they fell in love with your book, then odds are they are clamoring for information about the next one.  Will their favorite character live or die?  Who will the main character chose the farmhand or the rich lawyer?  Will they get married?  Teaser Q&As are even more important because they whet the appetite of your insatiable reader and give them something to look forward to.  Give them just enough information that they will mark the date on their phone so that they can preorder the next book the moment it’s available.
Teaser questions will be more tailored to your book, but leave your answers vague or open ended, with just enough information to drive the reader nuts.  The questions are specific to your plot line, but answer them as the writer.

Q: Will she finally make a decision on who she will chose? 
A: “Annie” has a lot of things she needs to consider when it comes to these two guys.  One loves her with all his heart, but has his flaws, the other is the better man for her, but can she love him?  Annie will have to tough road ahead of her in the “Title of the next book”.  (You don’t have to tell the reader whether or not the decision will be made until book 3, but you can help progress the story)

Q: He was captured/injured/missing, will they find him/will he die in this book?
A: The last we saw of “Derick” he was in bad shape.  We will see more of him the “Title of the next book”, but he will face a lot of challenges.  He will have to bargain for his life, if he decides that he wants to live.  (Tease them with possible scenarios, or give them a vague description of what will happen to Derick, but leave enough room for readers to worry about him.  Make them HAVE to read the next book to make sure that their favorite character lives or dies.) 

Teaser questions can make or break the excitement of the pending book, so work on it until there is enough suspense for readers to want to dive into the next book.

What Do You Find Interesting about My Book?  If you don’t know what to ask, then let your readers decide what to ask.  Ask for feedback and open the floor up to them.  Create a form for them to ask the questions they are dying to know.  Use a forum like where you can allow readers to ask their questions through the site.  You can direct them there and set the questions for daily, weekly, or for a specific time.  You can answer just the questions you want or ignore strange ones.  Once you have your questions, you can repost them on your own sites.

Creating and answering these questions will take time, but they are worth it in the end.  They are yet another way of promoting your books, especially when you can’t be there personally to answer the questions.  Read through your answers from a reader’s perspective to make sure that your answers are interesting, but still leave something to their imagination.  Go back and change up the questions once the next book comes out so that there is always fresh information for your readers to absorb.  Have fun with the answers, but give them something that they will share with their friends who also love your book!

Click here to see how I handled my Q&A's on my site.

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