Authors are tired of getting the same questions at every interview. They’ve answered them a hundred times and will not be excited to answer them yet again. I can tell you exactly the questions writers get time and time again at every book reading and interview:
- Where do you get your ideas?
- What is your writing process like?
- What advice do you have for writers?
And if you look for other lists of interview questions for authors, they are remarkably uninspired. Everyone basically lists the same 20 questions that writers always receive.
My list below of interview questions are fantastic, but if those 50 aren’t enough, I would suggest you go here to see examples of fantastic interviews, and maybe pick up a few more good questions:
- Paris Review Interviews
- These are the best interviews out there of writers, and there are thousands of them (including four books).
I’d also recommend that people curious about the writing process should read my informative blog post, “12 Steps to Write a Bestselling Novel.”
It will really illuminate the writing process.
Now, of course, the best question for a writer is one based on their book. Every author is excited to talk about their most recent book, or the big one they published a few years back. If you have a good question about a character or a plot point or the process of creating that book, they will be overjoyed to hear it.
But if you haven’t read their book yet, this is the next best thing: I’ve compiled a list of good questions for authors that are surprising and unique. I guarantee that these questions will surprise them for a second, and make them think about their answer.
50 Good Questions to Ask an Author
- What literary pilgrimages have you gone on?
- What is the first book that made you cry?
- What is the most unethical practice in the publishing industry?
- Does writing energize or exhaust you?
- What are common traps for aspiring writers?
- Does a big ego help or hurt writers?
- What is your writing Kryptonite?
- Have you ever gotten reader’s block?
- Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym?
- Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?
- Do you think someone could be a writer if they don’t feel emotions strongly?
- What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?
- Do you want each book to stand on its own, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?
- If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
- How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?
- What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?
- What authors did you dislike at first but grew into?
- What did you do with your first advance?
- What was an early experience where you learned that language had power?
- What are the most important magazines for writers to subscribe to?
- What’s your favorite under-appreciated novel?
- How do you balance making demands on the reader with taking care of the reader?
- As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?
- What do you owe the real people upon whom you base your characters?
- How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?
- What does literary success look like to you?
- What’s the best way to market your books?
- What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
- Do you view writing as a kind of spiritual practice?
- What’s the most difficult thing about writing characters from the opposite sex?
- How long were you a part-time writer before you became a full-time one?
- How many hours a day do you write?
- What period of your life do you find you write about most often? (child, teenager, young adult)
- What did you edit out of this book?”
- Have you read anything that made you think differently about fiction?
- What are the ethics of writing about historical figures?
- How do you select the names of your characters?
- If you didn’t write, what would you do for work?
- Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?
- Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find?
- What was your hardest scene to write?
- Do you Google yourself?
- What one thing would you give up to become a better writer?
- What are your favorite literary journals?
- What is your favorite childhood book?
- What is the most difficult part of your artistic process?
- Does your family support your career as a writer?
- If you had to do something differently as a child or teenager to become a better writer as an adult, what would you do?
- How long on average does it take you to write a book?
- Do you believe in writer’s block? (DO NOT ask whether they’ve had writer’s block).
Now, if you’re a writer, I would suggest also reading my post, “12 Steps to Write a Bestselling Novel.”
It is the best advice you’ll ever receive about novel writing.
Thanks a lot!!!!
You got it!
Hi I have a eBook through Kindle and I’m ready to go for the paperback is it acceptable to do a trilogy after publishing a full length version of the same book on Kindle
It’s fine to do a paperback after providing an ebook of the same.
This was so helpful. I am an new book reviewer looking to start interviews as well. I love a lot of these questions!!!!
I know this is over a year old post but I wanted to respond out of curiosity. What books do you like to review? I am a new author and was looking for questions people would what to learn from reading my biography. This questions list seems helpful. This is very new because writing has never really been a thought until now. My decision to write stems from a tragic event and hopefully will blossom into something great. Have a great day.
This is very very helpful, thank you so much.
posted at 11:11 😉
This was helpful very helpful
Question 8: Have you ever gotten reader’s block?
Question 50: Do you believe in writer’s block? (DO NOT ask whether they’ve had writer’s block).
Thx for pointing out, but first we need to ask, what’s a “readers’ block”??
When you feel like you can’t read or don’t want to read any more or can’t even decide what books to read.
This is awesome, thank you very much!
loll I noticed that too
Ashtyn, I don’t quite get what you and Angelica are noticing. One question is asking about writer’s block, and the other question is asking about reader’s block.
what is a reader block
When you have trouble reading. You don’t want to read, or you feel like you can’t read. It’s probably as common as writer’s block, but it doesn’t get talked about nearly as much.
I appreciate this! I have never had a phrase for it until now. Although looking back, it should have been obvious.
Ongoing this helped me a lot over the past years, like it helped me with the CFA book festival… And it worked!!!!
Thank you so much! I have an author I really want to do a interview with but I felt all the questions I came up with were cliche and unimportant.
Thank you so much! We have an author coming to our school and I have “question block” and had trouble thinking of questions that were actually interesting. Appreciate this a lot 😉
Thanks a million times
Thank so much for the help, we are skyping with Avi and I needed inspiration!
This was very helpful i needed it for a project and now i have my answers thank you so much!
Thanks! This helped me with my project very much! ^_^
oh did it really
Thanks for an entertaining list.
My dream is to be a writer in school we had a contest and i won a trophie thats why i want to be so happy today!
This is great! Very helpful! Thanks!
Thankyou very much.This informations helped me do my school english project!
Lol im doing that right now
Nice I will ask my friend’s mom as she is an author
This is really helpful and when I read it (I made a couple of questions before I came on here) I realized I was asking overused questions. Thanks for writing this post 🙂
Excellent questions. Thank you so much.
I copied this for my class. Thank you. REALLY USEFUL!!
thank you for this it helped a lot
Great one… I have a book launch coming up 20th of this month.. You all re invited
I am a new reporter for a local paper doing a feature on a local author. This is my first piece, so I want to impress. Thank you!!
So nice ones, i have found to be useful.
Thank you a lot!
This is great.
These questions are amazing! Of course, not all questions fit in with the author’s I will interview but there are a good 30 that I can use. Thank you so much for posting them!
Love this! Thanks for this!
My question is: Can my mystery story rewrite a relatively unknown point of history that readers may, out of curiosity, research?
Yes. But there has to be enough details for the reader to make sense of the story without researching.
this is a helpful list. thx.
Thank you so much!! I used this for my book project and it helped me so much!
Thanks!!! For me now you’re the best
Reader’s block can also be caused by a boring book. Better to stop and find a better book.
Exactly my thought!
I actually found it happens most when you got yourself stuck w/ one genre for too long & are already fed up w/ all the repetitive tropes yet you do not know this “trope fatigue”. Often as long as you’re willing to make yourself be adventurous & explore new types of reading materials, such as someone reading way too many young-adult fantasies, can start to explore maybe more mature-themed fantasy, or just give detective novels a try (I find myself solve my reader’s block most of the time through this principle ~~
Thank you so much. This list is making me think that the interview I am to do in a month will not be the hot mess of crickets chirping that I was afraid of and I actually am looking forward to hearing the author’s answers.
Thank so much for the help, but what is a reader block
Where you don’t want to read/can’t bring yourself to read anything.
This is great. Totally helped me in putting together some interview questions for the authors I host on my podcast. Cheers!
Why would an author make reference to his, or her writings as the ” finisher and author”? As oppose to an author and finisher?
can you change the type of book, say from memoirs to narrative or creative non fiction is it a difficulf process?
Thanks for sharing! This is wonderful its a great help. Keep sharing.
It will be of great help
Thank you dear
I know this an older post, but I will be interviewing my first author next week and found this post very helpful! and this may be an ignorant quest but why shouldn’t we ask if they’ve had writer block or how they combat it? I am obviously new to this field and want to understand why it is taboo or rude to ask.
It’s asked too often, and you probably won’t get an interesting answer.
Hard to believe I had never googled myself since I published my first novel in 2015 – and the first page of results turned up a stunning review and article I had never seen.
I have just sent a fulsome apology to the editor/reviewer – and gotten a nice kick to help me get the SECOND novel in the Pride’s Children mainstream trilogy finished and published.
Interesting set of questions – though many seemed exclusively for traditionally-published authors. I take what I can from where I find it – thanks!
Question #8a nd #50 contradict each other, but otherwise,these are inspiring questions…..
8 and 50 do not contradict each other. One is reader’s block, one is writer’s block.
The question I’ve enjoyed the most is a question I got at a festival some years back: “where did you get your sweater from?”
Thanks about to meet Joelle Charbonneau
I have a author interveiw soon and i was told by my classroom teacher to think of a “big juicy and meaty question” (lol)
My mind was blank before reading this.
I really hate your mention of “spirit animal” it is enforcing a stereotypical view of American Indians. I respectfully ask you to remove that.
I politely decline.
This article is very informative. Thanks for sharing such valuable insights.
Thank you so much for writing this article.
Thank you!!! this helped so much!!!
This is really helpful. Thanks.
Full disclosure: I’m a writer.
Some of these questions are good, but a lot of them make me cringe. I would hate to be asked some of these. And there are a few that are simply atrocious (#7 wins the gold medal with #8 close behind).
I’d also advise people wanting to interview a writer to do some research first. For instance:
1) Asking authors #36 when they’ve never used historical characters in their books would make no sense;
2) Don’t ask a self-published author #18, it wouldn’t be relevant.
On the plus side, #10, 11 & 49 are all great questions (there are others).
#50 is perhaps the best one here, because of the subtle shift in the phrasing (do not ignore the parenthesis is all I’ll say lol).
Brilliant set of questions. Thank you for helping with my preparation.
these questions suck