Monday, November 8, 2010

On the Origin of "Interview"

Today, I’m thankful for sixty-degree weather (at least when I'm trying to run--I'd much rather it were in the high seventies/low eighties most of the time:) ).

Recently, several people have asked how “Interview with an Agent” started. They wonder if I know these agents personally and, if not, how I got them to agree to do the interview.

Answers to questions two and three first: I’ve never met any of the agents I’ve interviewed face-to-face, but rest assured, I haven’t threatened their firstborn children, either. No, the short answer for how the series started is simply this: I asked, and they said yes.

Not terribly exciting, I know, so here’s the (slightly) more enthralling version: The idea first came to me back in January of this year. At that time, I’d been blogging for about five months, and I was trying to think of ways to boost my readership. Bailey, a blogging friend, had just started doing author interviews on her blog (one of which was with the amazingly amazing Lisa McMann), and I asked her the same question several people have asked me: “How did you get these authors to do the interview? Do you know them in real life?”

She cyber-snorted (I assume) and said something like, “Uh, no. I just e-mailed them or their publicists and asked if they wanted to do an interview.”

Huh. That didn't sound so hard. I decided to try the same thing, except with agents.

I put together a brief interview query, e-mailed it to several agents I wanted to know more about (including a few who had requested material from me in the past), and waited. I didn’t hear back from most of them, but then I did hear back from one, Marissa Walsh, who said something like, “YES!”

The whole thing kind of snowballed from there. At first, I focused on agents who didn’t have as much Internet presence, since I figured querying writers needed more information about them. Then one agent suggested I contact one of her colleagues, Mary Kole, who also happened to be a blogging agent. Ms. Kole was gracious enough to agree, so I decided to contact more blogging agents (although I didn’t develop my blogging agent interview for another couple of months). And the rest, as they say, is right there in my sidebar. (Okay, so maybe no one says that, but maybe someone should.)

The main thing I’ve learned from all of this is that, by and large, agents aren’t these snarling three-headed beasts who guard the gates to Publication. (Kind of makes Publication sound like Hades, doesn’t it? Any published authors care to comment on that comparison? :) Because something tells me it’s not as peachy-keen as those of us unpublisheds would like to think it is…) The truth is, they’re just people, with grocery lists and doctor’s bills and maybe a kid or two. Some of them like to do interviews, and some of them don’t. Some of them have time to chat with me, and some of them don’t. (That last sentence kind of makes it sound like I do the interviews over the phone. I don’t--I handle everything through e-mail.) Most of them are polite and personable (including all the ones I’ve interviewed), and they love--they LOVE--to find the diamonds in the slush.

So the real story’s actually pretty boring. Hopefully, it answered a few questions, though. If anyone has any others, feel free to ask them in the comments.


Kelly Bryson said...

Beautiful story. I've thought many times what a great job you do and how I wish I'd come up with the idea first;)

It's a great niche. Thanks for sharing what you learn.

Liesl Shurtliff said...

And it definitely has boosted your readership! Way to go. I have considered trying to do something similar, but with editors. It seems we get so much info from agents online, I wonder if editors would be willing to do interviews as well to get their perspective. Though I do think editors in general are a little more private than agents, (I see agents having a much broader internet presence than editors,) I guess as you say, all I can do is ask!

Krista Van Dolzer said...

Thanks, Kelly, and you're welcome. I really like what you're doing with those ARC reviews. Very cool.

Liesl, it definitely has boosted my readership. I think I had somewhere around 12 followers the day I posted the first interview:) And I think that interviewing editors idea is a good one. It would especially appeal to agented writers.

Myrna Foster said...

I love your agent interviews, especially the interactive ones. Even when I don't get on in time to ask questions, I learn a lot about the agent by reading through the questions and answers.

Krista Van Dolzer said...

Myrna, I love the interactive interviews, too. Good thing I finally got up the nerve to start asking every agent if he or she would like to do that.

Carol Riggs said...

Hey! Fascinating to hear how you began your interviewing. Takes guts, but yeah, like you said, agents are people too, so it's not as intimidating as it could be. Plus, via email, they can just ignore you if they're not interested. That certainly makes it easier!

Stephanie@thecrackedslipper said...

Good for you taking that bull by the horns! @Liesl: I love the idea of editor interviews. They are even more mysterious than agents!

Krista Van Dolzer said...

Carol, so true! Contacting agents through e-mail is definitely the way to go, just so we don't have to deal with that uncomfortable pause before the "No."

Stephanie, thanks for backing me up. So what do you say, Liesl? I think we smell a series in the making... :)

Abby Minard said...

Thanks letting us know how you do it!

Krista Van Dolzer said...

You're welcome, Abby!