Thursday, January 10, 2008

Interviews and Reviews

Having spent quite a lot of time interviewing people by telephone for Blogging Heroes, I was rather surprised to be attacked in a recent review of the book. The point of attack was the reviewer's contention that I had other people write the book by asking questions via E-mail. I don't think that's a good way to write a book--unless you intend to give the people who did the writing for you credit as co-authors.

Besides, that's not how I did it (something the reviewer would know, had he bothered to read the book before writing the "review"). The interviews were the result of actual conversations, from which I pulled quotes to use in the book, along with detailed research. I also wrote mini-bios of each interviewee. So putting together Blogging Heroes was anything but the cut-and-paste job of which I was accused. Having written 42 other books, I can tell you that planning the interviews, finding the right subjects, conducting the interviews and writing the book took as much effort as the average book of that length. Read this post, this one, this one, and this one to see what went into the book. It was no walk in the park (my editors will agree).

Had I sent a bunch of questions via E-mail, I would have had to poll a couple hundred bloggers to get a 320-page book. When you ask people to type up responses to questions, you're asking for minimal replies. You get more (and better) material when you actually talk with your subjects and get involved in the conversation. The bottom line: interviewing is another kind of research. The quotes were created by the subjects and me--not unlike going out and gathering facts by hand-searching old newspapers, magazines, and books, and on-site research--the kinds of research I did for CROSLEY and my other non-fiction books. The reviewer recommends that people page through the book. You can do better than that: there are entire chapters available free on the Web. If you like those, get the book.

No, I'm not bummed out by the carping. This is only the fourth negative review I've had in a quarter-century of writing books. Besides, in-person response at recent book signings indicates that people are fascinated by Blogging Heroes.

Not incidentally, some of the interviews I did last week were for this forthcoming book.

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