History of Interview with an Author
The Mesdames of Mayhem: When did Interview with an Author (IAA) begin?
Lisa: I’ve been blogging on Goodreads since May 15, 2014. I started with The Witchdoctor’s Bones and “Why Write About Africa?”
But I’ve only been doing IWAA since January of this year.
The Mesdames: What led you to publish through Goodreads?
Lisa: Honestly, it was the easiest route to go! I tried WordPress and got so muddled up! I’ve tried WordPress a number of times and I just can’t get the hang of it, so kudos to those who do!
I’ve been a Goodreads author for over ten years now and have explored most of what they have to offer. One day I was playing around with the Author Dashboard and I found the blog button and just took it from there. I figured that posting blogs to Goodreads would be handy for people because it would be easy for them to go to the book I was talking about and find out more about the author’s books, follow them and perhaps even encourage a happy reader to write a review or give the book a rating.
The Mesdames: What are the advantages?
Lisa: It’s really easy to use and I figured it was a good environment for a blog – it’s full of book lovers so I assumed they’d be interested in hearing about an author they were familiar with or learning about a new author.
The Mesdames: What are the disadvantages if any?
Lisa: There’s some formatting involved with regards to bold and italics. I find that a bit fiddly – for example, you have to put <i> before a word you want in italics and then </i> when you are done.
This seems like a small thing but it can take some time if the post has a lot of book titles.
The Mesdames: What authors / books / genres do you especially love to blog about?
Lisa: I enjoy chatting with a very broad spectrum of authors. I interview poets, genre and literary writers. I generally pick an author because I’ve read their book and have questions of my own that I’d like to ask them or I interview a writer whose book I’m keen to read.
The Mesdames: Tell us about some of your favorite interviews.
Lisa: Oh gosh, that’s kind of like asking which child is my favorite! They are all my favorites! And all the authors submit wonderful interviews, one can tell that a lot of work went into their answers. To me, the most wonderful thing about book life is the camaraderie and I love chatting with authors about their work and getting to know more about them. Real friendships develop which is lovely.
The Mesdames: You are currently on hiatus, but once IAA starts up again, how should an author apply if they wish to be interviewed on your blog?
Lisa: Just email me! I am very proactive about reaching out to people too and I am very open about the interview content. I supply a lot of questions and ask people to pick any six they’d like. Readers have extremely short attention spans so the more succinct, the better! And yes, I am on hiatus and I’m not entirely sure when I will return. I am gearing up for a fall release of my dystopian novel, The Rage Room and there’s a huge amount of work involved in that.
I actually have two blogs, one is Interview with An Author and the other is The Minerva Reader which is a review site. (BTW I welcome guest reviewers with open arms, so if you’ve read a book you love, just send me a review and I’ll post it.) The Minerva Reader is also on hiatus because of The Rage Room but I really look forward to returning to it. I often read a book, review it on The Minerva Reader and that leads me to ask the author if they’d liked to do an interview on IAA. So there’s a nice synergy between the two initiatives.
Your Blog Readership
The Mesdames: Does Goodreads provide you with stats and/or demographics of your blog followers?
Lisa: They used to and it was hugely handy but then they stopped. I asked them why and they didn’t give me a reason except to agree that they stopped! So I really don’t have any idea about the stats. When they were posting the stats, I’d have about 200-400 readers per blog but now I’ve got no idea.
I use Bitly to create blog links (which I rather like as you can customize the name, e.g. InterviewWithMHCallway). I get stats from Bitly but they don’t reflect the actual Goodreads clicks. I try not to focus on the numbers but on the message. I do feel a certain responsibility to the authors though and I feel just awful if a post they’ve worked hard on, doesn’t seem to generate a reaction. But at least I am helping get the word out and that’s very important to me.
The Mesdames: What feedback have you had from your blog readers?
Sadly not as much as I had hoped, but this has not deterred me. I find that one can’t participate in social media if one has any expectations about interaction. People are so ridiculously busy that they may not respond at that time. But even if you plant a seed in their minds, that is all good.
The Mesdames: What advice would you give authors starting a blog for the first time?
Lisa: Don’t expect a linear result as in “this blog post will result in x amount of sales”. In fact, my advice would be to have no expectations at all. Blogging is just one thing to do of many, so don’t think about it, just do it! That’s how I approach social media – I don’t analyze it, I just do it! As mentioned, I try to ignore the numbers when it comes to all things books, because it’s such a fiercely competitive world that if you focus on the numbers, you’ll just get down in the dumps no matter how well your own book is doing. Someone out there is always doing better than you! Part of being an author is developing a tough shell because it’s not easy – you’re putting out your most precious work and the world can be cruel!
The Mesdames: How long does it take you on average to prepare a blog posting?
Lisa: About three hours. The Minerva Reader takes a lot longer because I read the book, write the review and then post it. I do that on a website via a host called Homestead.com. It’s a lot more complicated than Goodreads so it takes me at least half a day to do a post (after reading and writing the review).
The Mesdames: How often do you post and what motivates you to post regularly?
Lisa: I don’t have a set schedule, I just try to do it as often as I can. The plan was to post The Minerva Reader monthly and the same for Interview With An Author but then COVID-19 happened. I decided to step up the interviews and do as many as two a week. A lot of my friends were publishing books and the world had just fallen apart, so I wanted to do as much as I could to help generate publicity in place of the usual real-life readings and events.
The Mesdames: Do blogs help an author promote their books?
Lisa: If the question is whether blogs are more effective than other social media tools, I’d say the jury’s out on that. I’d say that blogs are just one link in a very long chain. Social media is like a juggling act – I think one should keep as many balls in the air as possible and if you drop them, just pick them up when you’re ready and start again and never judge yourself for what you might have left undone. The thing is, there are infinite avenues to explore on social media and if you were to attempt all of them, you’d die trying (and you’d never write again because all your time would be spent online!)
The Mesdames: Is running a blog worth an author’s time and effort?
Lisa: If you get a personal joy from doing them then definitely yes. I don’t agree with Marie Kondo about most things, but I do apply her strategy to social media. If it doesn’t bring you joy then don’t do it! Sometimes for me, blogging is a way to share a personal reaction to a book, or something I have seen. It’s cathartic and I simply have to get it out into the world. For example, I recently read Cat’s Eye by Margaret Atwood and I loved it so much and was so deeply affected by it that I had to write a blog post about it. My motives were very writerly in that I had something I wanted to share with the world and the blog was the best way to do it!
I hope this blog post will be helpful and thank you for having me as a guest today! Being a Madame of Mayhem is something I truly cherish!