After reading a book from a new author or one I didn’t previously know much about, I tend to want to know more about that person. What other books have they written? Where did they get the idea for this particular story? What’s their writing process like?

These are just a few of the basic questions I tend to ask myself, and yet when it’s a self-published author I’m interested in, I don’t often find the answers. Google can only do so much.

Smashwords, however, has developed a new tool—it’s called Smashwords Interviews—that allows the authors on its site to give readers that exact information. The service officially rolled out yesterday with a grand total of eight authors. But not to worry: Smashwords Interviews is now open to all, and a good number of authors have since decided to utilize the new tool; dozens of new interviews have very recently been posted to the site.

The interviews will continue to be published on the Smashwords site, and they’ll also be linked to an author profile. Authors can answer pre-written questions, or create their own.

“The idea for this feature came to me last year when we were running a series of author interviews here on the Smashwords blog,” wrote, Mark Coker, the company’s CEO, on his own blog. “Many more authors wanted to be interviewed than we could accommodate. I thought to myself, ‘wouldn’t it be cool if we could interview every Smashwords author?’ And then the solution became apparent: a self-serve system for publishing author interviews. Smashwords Interviews is the result. Kudos to Case Talbot, the newest member of our software development team. She took my ideas and realized them better than I imagined.”

Naturally, authors are discussing their books in their Smashwords Interviews. But they’re also discussing the varied concepts behind their work; that can lead to a genuinely fascinating read, even for those of us who aren’t familiar with the works in question, or even the author herself.

Dr. Annabelle R. Charbit, for example, writes about her book, “A Life Lived Ridiculously,” on the site. The premise of the book is simple yet intriguing: “When a girl with obsessive compulsive disorder falls in love with a sociopath, she must fight for her sanity and her life.”

I haven’t read the book, but I ended up opening Charbit’s page nonetheless because her questions were so unusual.

Q. What inspired you to write a contemporary fiction book that tackles two very serious subjects, OCD and sociopaths?

Q. I’m sure most women can sympathize with Maxine. Let’s face it, ask any woman if she’s dated a sociopath and the answer is gonna be, “Oh honey, let me tell you!” But joking aside, what really makes an individual a sociopath?

Q. How has your environment and upbringing colored your writing?

Those would probably be the same questions I’d have after reading the book.

When it comes to using this tool, it seems especially important to create unique questions that are geared not only toward your books and your writing, but about the universal topics readers will hopefully find within. Because after all, while generic questions can sometimes still lead to interesting answers, standing out from all the other interviews on the site is probably the one thing that will get you noticed.

Interestingly enough, Coker did an interview for the site himself, relating his own story and how he came to create Smashwords.

Then, there was this question:

Q. What inspires you to get out of bed each day?

A. Getting out of bed has always been easy for me. I usually wake up with Smashwords on my mind, and the thoughts are usually about new features we can add, or how we can do something better or faster. My second thought of the day is coffee. Coffee is one of the joys of every day. My other joys include family, friends, my garden and my pets (chickens, homing pigeons, cats).

What are your thoughts about this new tool? If you’re a reader, are you interested enough to read more about the authors you’re familiar with? What about those authors you’ve never heard of before? And if you’re an author, let us know what you think. Is this something you might try? Do you think there’s a decent chance it could lead to new fans?

(And by the way, did you check out the interview we did with Mark Coker recently? Click here to read it.)


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