Interview Tips for Artists and Writers

Yesterday, I had the distinct pleasure of meeting with the National League of American Pen Women, D.C. Chapter. They asked me to present some tips for artists who are being interviewed for magazine and journal articles. (I was asked to do this because I’ve interviewed quite a few artists representing themselves, as well as groups.) Throughout the presentation, the ladies came up with their own ideas, which made for an informative discussion. Much thanks to Nancy Kyme, President, for inviting me!

Tips for Artists and Writers Being Interviewed for Articles

Answering an interviewer’s questions can be daunting. Here are some basic tips to ensure articles about you will make you shine.

Written/Email Interviews

  1. Read the questions thoroughly first. Make sure you understand what they are asking. Don’t be afraid to ask for clarification on the questions.
  2. Don’t make it all about you. You need to appeal to the audience (this also makes advertisers happy).
  3. Write as much as you can unless there’s a word restriction. Most writers would prefer too much info as opposed to too little which would make them have to contact you again.
  4. Expect to be edited to fit the publication’s themes, word counts, etc.
  5. Don’t use third person unless they ask for a third person bio. It’s okay to ask what they are looking for.
  6. Speak to the audience. Be cautious about using artistic terms unless you are sure your audience will understand them. If there’s a question, define the term in the context of your sentence.
  7. Focus on what you are most passionate about. This helps vest you in the interview and keep you on track, and it makes the interview more interesting.
  8. Spell check and grammar check, even if you think you’re sure you have been thorough. You want to make a good impression, but also, you can’t always depend on the writer to edit the way you want.
  9. Expect them to want a photo or head shot. Make it high resolution and professional.
  10. Ask to see a copy of the article before it comes out, even if you can’t make changes. This prepares you for the response that will follow. (Sometimes they will say no, and that’s their decision, so don’t fight it.)
  11. After the article comes out, link to it on your website, do social media posts to advertise the article, etc. This increases your exposure, makes the magazine and writer happy and give you the best PR experience.

In-person or Phone Interviews

  1. Research where the interview will take place and when. You’ll want to know about noise levels, crowds, etc. If it’s on the phone, make sure you have a quiet place to take the call if possible.
  2. It’s okay to ask for the questions ahead of time. Understand these may change as the interview progresses.
  3. Practice what you will say, but don’t memorize. You want to be comfortable speaking about your topic, but not stilted.
  4. Dress professionally if this is an in-person interview.
  5. Be approachable and courteous. This is as much of a PR piece for you as it is useful to the publication. You want to engage the interviewer and the readers.
  6. Don’t speak too quickly. Allow the writer time to take notes and give yourself time to think. Don’t be afraid of a little silence.

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