Contact an Expert for an Interview Post: Day 18 of the 2015 October Platform Challenge

There are two different ways to view platform at the same time: One is in the quantifiable reach of an author to a target audience. This is done by measuring the thousands of Twitter followers, book buyers, and adoring fans around the world. The other way of building platform is through the qualitative reach of an author to experts, event directors, editors, publishers, agents, other writers, librarians, book sellers, etc. Both can be built with today’s task.

Contact an Expert for an Interview Post

For today’s platform-building task, contact an expert for an interview post to be featured on your blog. It’s a great way to make connections with other folks in your field while helping establish your expertise. Believe it or not, this is actually easier than it may sound.

Here are steps I take:

  1. Find an expert on a topic. This is sometimes the hardest part: figuring out who I want to interview. But I never kill myself trying to think of the perfect person, and here’s why: I can always ask for more interviews with other experts. It’s sometimes more productive to get the ball rolling than come up with excuses for not getting started.
  2. Locate an e-mail for the expert. This can often be difficult, but a lot of experts have websites that share either e-mail addresses or have online contact forms. Many experts can also be reached via social media sites, such as Facebook, Twitter, Google+, etc. Or they can be contacted through company websites. And so on.
  3. Send an e-mail asking for an e-mail interview. Of course, you can do this via an online contact form too. If the expert says no, that’s fine. Respond with a “Thank you for considering and maybe we can make it work sometime in the future.” In other words, be polite and keep the door open for down the road. If the expert says yes, then it’s time to send along the questions.

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How to Handle an E-mail Interview

Once you’ve secured your expert, it’s time to compose some questions. Here are some of my tips:

  • Always start off by asking questions about the expert. This might seem obvious to some, but you’d be surprised how many people start off asking “big questions” right out of the gate. Always start off by giving the expert a chance to talk about what he or she is doing, has recently done, etc.
  • Limit questions to 10 or fewer. The reason is that you don’t want to overwhelm your expert. In fact, I usually ask around eight questions in my e-mail interviews. If I need to, I’ll send along some follow-up questions, though I try to limit those as well. I want the expert to have an enjoyable experience. After all, I want the expert to be a connection going forward.
  • Try not to get too personal. If experts want to get personal in their answers, that’s great. But try to avoid getting too personal in the questions you ask, because you may offend your expert or make them feel uncomfortable. Remember: You’re interviewing the expert, not leading an interrogation.
  • Request additional information. By additional information, I mean that you should request a head shot and preferred bio–along with any relevant links. To make the interview worth the expert’s time, you should afford them an opportunity to promote themselves and their projects in their bios.

And once the interview goes live, link to it on your social networks and give your expert the specific URL so that he or she can share with their tribe.

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roberttwitterimageRobert Lee Brewer is Senior Content Editor of the Writer’s Digest Writing Community, which includes editing Writer’s Market and Poet’s Market. He regularly blogs at the Poetic Asides blog and writes a poetry column for Writer’s Digest magazine. He also leads online education, speaks on writing and publishing at events around the country, and does other fun writing-related stuff.

A published poet, he’s the author of Solving the World’s Problems (Press 53) and a former Poet Laureate of the Blogosphere.

Follow him on Twitter @RobertLeeBrewer.

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180 thoughts on “Contact an Expert for an Interview Post: Day 18 of the 2015 October Platform Challenge

  1. ConnieCockrell

    This one took me a bit to organize. I’ve been interviewed for other’s blogs but I’ve never conducted an interview. So, I went to one of my writer groups and asked if anyone would like to be interviewed. I had two immediate responses. So, now, I’ve drafted my questions, eight of them, and I’m ready to conduct interviews. Yay!

  2. Stephanie Wenburg

    To be honest, I have actually already started having an interview series on my blog. Most of the time it is an indie author trying to promote his/her book or a fellow blogger looking for a little love for his/her blog. It is a great way to meet and connect with others.

    I am slowly working my way up for increasing my interviewees. So if you are interested, you are welcome to get ahold of me! 🙂 (Yea, that was a little bit of a plug there!)

  3. Sherlock

    This is something I do a lot, not only on my blog youcansolvethiscoldcase.com but also for articles for Law and Order Magazine. I liked the advice that you shouldn’t get hung up on the “perfect expert” but to keep looking. LinkedIn is also a place where you can sometimes get in touch with your desired expert and sometimes these “experts” have their own social media pages where you can leave messages explaining what you are doing and asking that they contact you. Depending upon what type of expert you are seeking, it often helps to explain who you are and why you are asking for an interview with the person.

  4. clpauwels

    Bleh :-/

    Cold calls are NOT my strong suit. And while my blog doesn’t really lend itself to interview posts, I do post about other authors quite often and always provide links.

    Does that count?

  5. debn

    Still getting caught up on my tasks, and I thought this idea was the best yet. I reached out to another blogger in my genre who has a good size following (and something to sell) to see if she’d be willing to participate. Hoping to hear back soon.

  6. azlatic

    I interview at least one person a week for my day job, and like others here, never thought about reaching out beyond that. I will have to give this some serious thought, mostly about the questions I will pose (they’ll be far different from my standard day job interview questions!).

  7. L.C. Rooney

    Remember, too, that the person you interview doesn’t have to be a stranger. We all know people who are experts in their field, who have specialized expertise that we may not possess. I recently interviewed (by email) a police officer with whom I attended the same grammar school from first through fourth grades. We reconnected on Facebook in the last couple of years, but didn’t really have too much interaction. But I remembered seeing a photo on his Facebook wall of him in uniform with his K-9 dog. When I needed to speak to a cop who would be able to tell me how local police departments interact (or don’t) with the FBI (for my current work-in-progress), I sent him a private message on FB and he said he’d love to be interviewed. I also interviewed the owner of an ad agency for a business blog several years ago; she was someone I’d known for years.

  8. Carli Fierce

    Man Mr. Brewer, you certainly know how to push me out of my comfort zone. But you know what? I sent a request my favorite blogger. She’s responded to me before. I hope she’ll do the interview *fingerscrossed*

  9. Eccles321

    I contacted Craig Johnson, author of the Walt Longmire series of books, which are the content for the Netflix TV series, “Longmire.” He said he’d be happy to do an email interview someone during the holidays.

  10. amberlynne

    I need to consider who I want to interview. As soon as I start to reach out of my own circle and into the world, that’s when I start to get a little nervous. This one will push my boundaries a bit.

  11. Pam

    When I first saw this challenge yesterday, I thought it might be the first one I skip since I couldn’t think of who I might interview. However, after giving it more thought I now have an idea of who I might interview for my blog. I just have to choose between two people.

  12. Jennifer V

    My blog is so eclectic that I’ll have to think who I want to interview. However, I’ve added it to my editorial calendar and will perhaps try two or three different types of experts. Thanks for getting me out of my comfort zone.

  13. Brazenbookbug

    This is my favorite challenge so far. I don’t know what I was waiting for, permission? Hmmm…. Since I was prepared to ask for interviews from experts I already know, I’ll save those for later; my personal twist on this challenge is to contact experts I don’t already know, just to push myself a little more. I’m off to make at least one or more new contacts!

  14. MargaretSheehan

    HA! I have just the opposite problem. I get continual e-mails with “experts” with just the right program to develop my Q score. Luckily, I have contact on Facebook & Linkedin for people I trust.

  15. clarkatniles

    Thanks for the nudge, Robert! I’ve been asking questions in my blog about writing biography. Why not reach out to an expert who presented a workshop at a writers’ conference I attended and ask her to respond? Will get on it later this week.

  16. Suzanne Adair

    I commented on this post Sunday morning at 9:39 ET. Please release my comment from moderation. It had two links in it, so it may have been thrown into the Spam filter. Thank you.

    1. Suzanne Adair

      Here’s Part 1 of that comment I posted Sunday morning at 9:39 ET, which is still stuck in the Spam folder:

      I’ve interviewed experts several times on my blog. Even today, more than three years later, my 2012 interview of historical military artist Don Troiani still gets hits. Those continued hits can be at least partially explained by the fact that Don’s interview was part of a special promotion I did on the American Revolution during the week of the Fourth of July, in which I connected Don’s interview and essays by other subject matter experts to a giant blog hop, thus getting all of us a huge amount of exposure. Also, Don generously shares the interview link with others. All of this makes search engines very happy with us.

    2. Suzanne Adair

      Here’s Part 2 of that comment I posted Sunday morning at 9:39 ET, which is still stuck in the Spam folder:

      Speaking of interviews, I’m interviewed today — part of the book release tour for Deadly Occupation — on the Writers and Other Animals blog. Stop by and say hello!

      NOTE TO ALL: The interview is still up. Please stop by!

  17. Cindy

    Since I retired I have became somewhat a hermit. Not to good with talking to people. So I will have to venture out of my cave and contact a couple people I know. Not sure if they have emails but I will find out. Should be.

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