The King of the Interview — Napoleon Hill

napoleon-hill.jpgI’m sure you’ve all heard and have probably read the classic book Think and Grow Rich. Napoleon Hill’s Think and Grow Rich is on of the greatest examples of a properly formatted interview book. It is one of the bestselling books of all time. Here’s how he did it and how you can too once you understand the process.

Hill actually went the extra mile and rewrote all of his interviews. He made it sound like his own words. Throughout the copy in the book, he referenced and gave credit to whomever he was interviewing at that particular moment. He paraphrased all these other people’s words and put it down into a step-by-step logical format, and he got famous from doing it.

Most of the people in Napoleon Hill’s book are people we have never heard about. Obviously, that is not true of Henry Ford, Thomas Edison, Alexander Graham Bell, Theodore Roosevelt and Andrew Carnegie, but those are the main names you will recognize from Think and Grow Rich. He actually interviewed thousands and thousands of people who were successful during his time.

He paraphrased every one of their words. He put these interviews through his own thought process and his own opinion and weighed them out with his own experiences.

In doing this, he created an amazing book called Think and Grow Rich. It wasn’t initially called that. The original title was something like Use Your Noodle to Make Oodles. Aren’t you glad the title of the book got changed? I don’t think it would have sold as well as it has with that name. Thank goodness for editors and copywriters.

Many people since Hill’s time have tried to do something similar but never had quite the knack of doing it like he did. He had tenacity and broke it down and created his own system from other people’s information. He broke it down into 16 principles in the book. Many have read that book and made millions of dollars by following those principles.

It worked for Napoleon Hill because he DID NOT use the standard interview process which I have way too many people use. Where it’s a he asked, she answered format. Although an interview product is easier to initially create, it turns out to be harder than most people think when turning it into a quality product that will draw people in.

What you must remember is that your audience was not there for the interview. Every word the person spoke may be important but there is more to the situation than that. You will need to add information to your writing that the words spoken don’t tell. Were they rushed when they answered? Did they speak quickly? Slowly? Were they cheerful? Tired? Confused? What were the surroundings like?

If you can edit your interview to show more detail, you will have a much better finished product. Think of the research that went into Think and Grow Rich. Hill had to do an unbelievable amount of traveling to compile all the information for his book.

With all the new technology out there, doing an interview product is much easier than it was for him. It is not necessary to travel from one end of the country to the other to do interviews. You can usually hold them over the telephone then have them recorded and transcribed.

Don’t just report what was said. Tell a story. Construct your piece so that it has a logical beginning and end and a strong middle.

Napoleon Hill said, “Patience, persistence and perspiration make an unbeatable combination for success.” Keep this in mind when compiling an interview product or book and think about what he had to go through in order to sell the 30 million plus copies that have been sold of Think and Grow Rich. Who knows? Maybe you could be the next Napoleon Hill.