The Author Questionnaire: A Key to Book Marketing That Would Make the NSA Proud

For some authors writing is easy, for others it’s hard. I’m with the latter, and for an introvert like me marketing and publicizing my book (set for public release this fall) will be just as hard as writing.

As I was completing the author questionnaire sent to me by my publisher, two thoughts kept running through my head: (1) I’m going to have to leave my comfort zone so far behind I’m going to need a passport, and (2) I wonder if this is what it’s like to apply for a job in the intelligence community.

I kept waiting to be asked about my blood type.

So for those of you who are curious about book marketing and publicity, here’s the author profile/questionnaire I was sent and recently completed. Don’t worry: reading it doesn’t require you to disclose anything about your red blood cell antigens.

“AUTHOR PROFILE / QUESTIONNAIRE

Please complete this questionnaire in this Word file, not by hand. Also please leave questions in place and enter your responses following the questions.
Thank you!

The following questionnaire will help us prepare marketing materials, and will provide us with other useful information. It will also prompt you to begin thinking about how you will market and promote your book. Today’s author must be more than a writer; you must also be an active spokesperson for yourself and for your book. As your publisher, we will make your book available in the marketplace, but availability is only the first stage. The world must know your book exists before they can buy it, so our challenge (yours and ours) is to make you and your book visible. In a world where more than a million books are published each year, the competition is staggering. Marketing and promotion are essential to make your book successful.

Thank you for answering these questions as thoroughly as possible. (Some questions may not fully apply to your book; use your best judgment.)

TITLE OF WORK:

AUTHOR’S FULL NAME:

EXACT NAME(S) FOR COPYRIGHT:

MAILING ADDRESS (Street or P.O. Box, City, State, Zip):

SHIPPING ADDRESS (Street, City, State, Zip):

TELEPHONE (Day and Evening):

E-MAIL ADDRESS:

TWITTER ADDRESS (if applicable):

FACEBOOK ADDRESS (if applicable):

WEBSITE DOMAIN NAME (we recommend using your name rather than the title of your book):

YOUR DATE OF BIRTH:

ACADEMIC CREDENTIALS. (Colleges, universities, training; include dates):

OTHER PUBLISHED WORKS. (Be sure to provide titles, publishers and dates of publication, as well as a short description of each title):

AFFILIATIONS (clubs or organizations in which you are involved or a member):

WORKS IN PROGRESS. (Are you currently working on another book? If so, tell us about it.)

BIOGRAPHY. (Please write a short biography that can actually be used in your book. Write in third person. Keep it simple and clear. Longer bios, 200-250 words, are generally printed on a back page (or back flap for hardcover editions); shorter bios, 50-60 words, are printed on the back cover, if space permits. The length of your bio is basically your choice. If your book includes an illustrator, please also provide your illustrator’s bio.)

PHOTO. (Please send a quality color photograph of yourself (and illustrator, if applicable) that might be used on the back cover (or on a back page) and for promotional purposes. We recommend a casual photograph. Either way, it should be good quality. If you send a digital file, it should be high resolution and in jpeg or tif format (300 dpi). If you mail a print, a 4×5” or 4×6” is best.)

SUMMARY OF YOUR BOOK. (Please write a brief summary or synopsis in 150 to 200 words that captures the essence and main focus of your book. Write the summary so if people read it, they will want to buy your book. Write in third person. This summary will be used to develop your jacket copy.)

ELEVATOR. (If you got on an elevator and someone asked “what is your book about,” and you had just one or two floors or about ten seconds to tell him, what would you say? Write one or two sentences that capture the essence of your book.

BOOK COVER. (Please tell us how you envision your front cover. Are there specific photos or images you would like to see included? Do you have color preferences? We try to accommodate author preferences, within reason. Keep in mind that if you ask for “a woman sitting on a horse, holding a silver sword and wearing a white dress,” an image like this usually involves hiring a model, a horse, and a photographer to take a professional photograph, or involves complex PhotoShop manipulation and involves considerable expense. Think of simple images or photos that can be created easily or found in stock online photo galleries (like iStock.com) and that are royalty-free. (If yours is a children’s book, the cover image will most likely be produced by the illustrator.) Our standard approach is to create several versions of your cover. With your input and that of our designers, we arrive at one or two strong designs, and once a final version is selected, we polish and refine that version. We’re happy to discuss cover ideas with you.)

SALES HANDLES. (Think of statements that will help sell your book. How is your book unique? Why should a reader purchase it? How is it different from other titles on similar subjects or in a similar genre? Be as detailed as you can.)

AUDIENCE FOR YOUR BOOK. (The first audience to potentially purchase your book are those people who know you. Who else do you think will buy your book? List specific groups, organizations that may be interested in single or bulk purchases. Make a list of contacts, email addresses, and other pertinent information. You will probably want to create an Excel file or Microsoft Word file to list this contact information. Remember that your email list is one of your most powerful marketing tools.)

POTENTIAL ENDORSERS/REVIEWERS. (Consider who might write an endorsement for your book. Endorsements, sometimes called ‘blurbs,’ are printed on the back cover or on the inside first page of your book, and they are often used in promotional materials. You can request endorsements once we have a final edited or designed proof. The most effective endorsers/reviewers are successful writers, especially those who write in the same genre of your book, people in the topic field, editors, book reviewers, leaders, celebrities—people who have an audience and whose names may be recognizable. However, we welcome almost any endorsement. We suggest that you compose a simple letter asking for their endorsement or review (we can provide a sample letter). We encourage authors to be bold in seeking endorsements. Don’t hesitate to contact well-known authors and celebrities. They will often surprise you and respond. When we have an edited or designed proof, you can simply email or mail a copy to the potential endorser, along with your letter—and hope for a reply.

CONTACTS. (List those groups, organizations, newspapers, magazines, or newsletters you might contact who might publish a review, article or announcement about your book in their publication or on their website. Organizations or groups are often willing to include announcements about books published by their members. Perhaps you have associations or connections with media, editors, reviewers who may be willing to write a review once your book is published. Please send us their email addresses and names.)

EVENT LOCATIONS. (List libraries, booksellers, or other retailers or venues you might contact who may hold a book event for you, and collect specific email addresses and contact names for these locations. These should be in areas near where you live, or areas to which you are willing to travel. Signings and book events can be held anywhere—in homes, restaurants, wine bars, museums. It’s becoming more common to have events in places other than bookstores. Be creative. Perhaps you can hold an event at a coffee shop in your neighborhood.)

PRESENTATIONS/TALKS (POETRY, FICTION AND NON-FICTION GENRES). (Author presentations always draw larger audiences than simple signings. People are more likely to come to hear a talk than come to see an author sitting at a table, pen in hand. Author talks are generally followed by a question and answer session, possibly a reading, and then a signing at the end when you can sell your book. Now that you are a published author, people will think of you as an expert. Think of 4, 5 or more potential 15-20-30 minute presentations/talks you might give. What would the topics of these talks be? Write the topics here. Make them interesting and compelling, so when people see the title of your talk, they’ll want to attend.)

CHILDREN’S BOOKS ACTIVITIES. (One of the key draws for children’s book authors is to offer activities to children. We recommend that you develop 3 or 4 potential activities for children in the age/reading level for the content of your book. These should be hands-on/participatory activities that will engage children and inspire parents to bring their children to your event. Consider activities that involve drawing, illustration, assembly, puppetry, word or other games. List your activities here.)

BUYERS. (List booksellers, retailers, and other potential buyers who may want to purchase your book, and provide their contact information.)

RADIO AND TV STATIONS. (List local or regional radio and TV stations who may be willing to interview new authors. Provide contact information for these stations.)

OTHER. (List any other promotion/marketing you plan to pursue that will help sell your book.)

Now more than ever, books are successful in today’s market largely because their authors are active promoters. Reaching people who know you is easy; the challenge is reaching buyers who know nothing about you. In order to reach these buyers, you will need to be active and visible; you will need to talk about your book to groups and individuals, market your book in online blogs, social networking sites, and by other methods. Together with our effort, we hope to find a responsive audience!)

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Thank you!!”

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