You have a great idea for a book – it’s about your area of expertise, you’re passionate about your subject, and you’re already thinking about the cover and marketing. Best of all, you have a large network you can contact for interviews. This is going to be awesome – with your happy clients and your industry contacts, you’ll have so much content that the book will be a breeze! Right?
There is a right way and a wrong way to incorporate interviews into your book and, if you get it wrong, you will:
- Waste the tens of hours spent questioning your contacts and transcribing their responses;
- Lose the thousands of words those interviews contributed to your book; and
- Potentially have to rewrite some new chapters from scratch.
Many of my clients get excited about a general idea for a book – ‘it’s going to be about coping with change,’, ‘it’s about recruitment,’ or ‘it’s going to be about small business’. And, once they have that general idea, they will then reach out to relevant contacts in their network for interviews they can incorporate into the book.
What typically happens at this stage is they’ll prepare a number of vague questions based on the general topic (using the previous examples, these would be questions on change, recruitment or small business), and end up with a thousand words or more of responses from each person.
However, when it comes to actually writing and structuring their book, these interviews don’t fit anywhere. How could they? If you’ve asked them about change in general, how can you fit their interview under any of your five steps to cope with change? If you’ve asked them about recruitment, their interview isn’t going to be specific to resumes or interviews. If you’ve asked them about small business, their interview isn’t going to fit well in the marketing section or the staff management section.
From here, the writer will either:
- Randomly sprinkle the interviews throughout the book, not taking into consideration how they relate to the immediate point or chapter; or
- Create a brand new chapter and just dump all of the interviews in there.
This creates a lot of frustration for your reader because (if you take the random sprinkling method) they read the interview and can’t figure out why it’s relevant, or (if you take the brand new chapter method) you give them a big chunk of content where they need to search for the information that’s useful to them.
Your job as an author is to pick out the most relevant information for your reader and present it in a way that’s easy to digest. Neither of these methods achieves that.
So what can you do? To find out how to incorporate great interviews (and how to salvage not-so-great interviews), head over to http://www.grammarfactory.com/writing-for-entrepreneurs/book-interviews/
Pretty (Jacqui @ MorganJamesPublishing . com)
Acquisitions Editor, Morgan James Australia
Head Editor at Grammar Factory