Are you wondering what it takes to be an author? Wondering how book ideas are developed and about the book writing process from start to finish? Or do you have an upcoming author interview or book event to attend and need some good questions to ask an author?
I've written a book every single year for 4 years in personal finance, business, and personal development. Because of this, I get many questions about being an author and about writing books. The 4 books I've written are:
- Clever Girl Finance: Ditch Debt, Save Money, And Build Real Wealth
- Learn How Investing Works, Grow Your Money
- The Side Hustle Guide: Build a Successful Side Hustle and Increase Your Income
- Choosing to Prosper: Triumphing Over Adversity, Breaking Out of Comfort Zones, Achieving Your Life and Money Dreams
And so, based on my personal experience as an author, I'm going to go over the most popular questions I get that I think are really good questions to ask an author. I will also share my own answers to these author interview questions.
9 Really good questions to ask an author
Feel free to leverage these questions for your personal insight, or if you plan on interviewing an author, or at the next book event you attend!
1. How do you find time to write?
This must be one of the most often-asked author interview questions I get! When I'm writing a book, I try to block off an hour every day. Sometimes I write nothing, and sometimes I can't get past a couple of sentences.
Regardless, I make sure every single day I sit at my desk with my document open for that hour. I find that if I take too many days off, I lose motivation to write.
2. What is the best time of day for you to write?
I write first thing in the morning when my head is clear and before my kids wake up and it's time to get the day going.
Usually, I'm up at 4:30, or 5 am. But sometimes, I'm up writing at midnight because I feel inspired. So it really depends on what works best for you.
3. How do you know what to write?
I like structure, so every single book I've written has had a detailed outline for each chapter before I start writing anything. I also work with a developmental editor on every book (outside of my publisher-assigned editors).
They ensure I'm maintaining context throughout the book. I like to submit a manuscript as close to being complete as possible.
4. How long does it take you to write a book?
This is another one of those good questions to ask an author. When it comes to how long it's taken me to write each one of my books, it varies.
But on average, it's taken me six months to a year. Some people take less time to write, and some people take a lot more time.
For me, it's helpful to have delivery deadlines. Combined with the detailed outline I create for each book in advance of writing, I'm able to stay on track.
5. What is the most difficult part of writing a book?
For me, the most difficult part is getting past the inevitable writer's block. Sometimes there are days (even weeks) when I feel totally uninspired to write more than a few sentences.
But I make it a point to sit at my computer with my writing document open for the designated writing time I've assigned in my calendar for the day.
6. Did you self-publish or go the traditional publishing route and why?
I've had a traditional publishing book deal for each of my published books. I chose this route over self-publishing primarily because of the visibility and potential brand awareness I could get not just for my books but for the business I run, Clever Girl Finance.
If you are considering publishing a book it's important to think about the pros and cons of both options.
Self-publishing means you'll retain all the profits from the sales of your books. But there will be an upfront out-of-pocket investment to get your book published with a self-publishing company.
With traditional publishing, your publisher takes on most of the costs, and you'd be paid royalties based on a percentage of sales. However, they also have a significant distribution and visibility network that could help you reach more potential book buyers versus if you do it on your own.
For anyone interviewing an author, this is one of those really good questions to ask an author to have on your list.
7. How did you get your book deal? (This is one of the top questions to ask an author that I get asked!)
I was fortunate enough that my current publisher approached me about my first book based on the popularity of the Clever Girl Finance brand.
Despite them reaching out, I had to create and submit a book proposal about my idea, which they needed to approve. For the rest of my books, I pitched the idea to my publisher by preparing and formally submitting a book proposal.
8. How did you negotiate your book deals? Did you have a multi-book deal?
I had individual book contracts for each of my books, and each of my book deals was negotiated separately. This approach allowed me to leverage the success of each book to my advantage during contract review and negotiation.
The key areas of focus for me with each deal negotiation were:
- My book rights
- My royalties (the US and international)
- The book advance
- The inclusion of an audiobook
One thing to keep in mind when it comes to book advances and how authors get paid is this; One-time book advances are great. But royalties are ongoing and based on a percentage of your sales (remember this)!
If you are considering traditional publishing, this is one of these really important author interview questions to ask.
9. What important advice would you give a first-time author?
If writing a book is something you want to do, spend some time thinking about the topic you will cover as well as the message you want to convey to your reader.
Next, do your research to learn how to create a good outline that you can leverage during your writing process to keep you focused and on track.
I personally think it's worth working with a developmental editor to help you identify any issues or address any gaps in your book. Alternatively, you can get constructive opinions and feedback from supportive friends or family. Getting feedback will help you create a solid body of work.
Once you start thinking about publishing your book, consider the pros and cons of self-publishing vs traditional publishing. If you choose the route of traditional publishing, create your short list of publishers to whom you'd like to submit a book proposal.
Finally, pace yourself and enjoy the process of writing a book. Even if you have no intention of publishing it, it's still a huge accomplishment to author a book!
Leverage these questions to ask an author to gain the information you need!
You can make the process of interviewing an author worthwhile for you by preparing your author interview questions in advance.
Structure them in a way that you get all your pressing questions answered, especially if you have plans to write your own book. Many times, learning about an author's journey and process can be just the inspiration you need!
If you're interested in writing a book, check out our step by step guide on how to become an author.