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Home » Featured, Marketing and Promotion

Book Marketing for Authors: The Author Questionnaire

Submitted by Chris on Thursday, 10/11/076 Comments

One of the global complaints I hear about the Publishing industry revolves around book marketing - or the perceived lack of it. This issue deserves a post of it’s own and this one is not it.

There also seems to be a general consensus that publishers want to shut authors out of the marketing process, and I could not disagree more with this perspective. While the publisher certainly controls the budget and ultimately the marketing plan, I absolutely want the author involved in the marketing process, and I certainly want their input of the types of things we can do to promote the book to readers.

One way we get authors involved in the process is through the use of a questionnaire, and I thought I would share a few of the questions we ask, so you can consider them for your own books or perhaps other products. The Author’s Questionnaire helps you help us sell your book. It is used by Sales and Marketing to position the book in the marketplace and to create the book’s promotions. While we are marketing professionals, we probably don’t have the knowledge that you as the expert in this subject area bring to the table. What you write in the questionnaire is very important and definitely influences how we market and sell your book.

This is not the complete list, but these hit some of the highlights. If your publisher does not involve you in this part of the process ask them why.

  • What are the top 10 Blogs we need to tell about your book? Be sure to include a contact and an email address or phone number where possible, and a brief description of who the Blog author is and why it’s important for your book. Don’t forget the blogs of the software development team, or product managers where applicable. (If you come up with more than 10 strong candidates list them all, but try to rank them for priority.)
  • What search terms would readers use at to find your book? We may be able to include these keywords when indexes your book. Please be specific and separate terms by commas.
  • If you could advertise your book on 10 websites, blogs, or podcasts/video podcasts which ones would they be (ranked in order of importance?) Try to stay focused on the highest impact sites for potential readers – the answer is probably not Yahoo!, The New York Times, or Oprah Winfrey.
  • We are always interested in new and interesting ways to market and promote our books. In this section, we would love to hear your thoughts and ideas for sites like Facebook, and You Tube, contests or other unique angles to promote your book.
  • “It would be great if so-and-so reviewed the book and talked about it.” Here’s your chance to get your book into the hands of other influencers not listed above. These can be journalists, professors, company executives or anyone else who you feel can have a direct impact on your book’s sales by influencing others to buy it.

Again, this is far from the whole list, but I hope it gives you a feel for the kind of input we want from our authors. What other ways can you help your publisher promote your book?

(Image Credit: drachmann)

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  • Anne Z. said:

    So when do you give that questionnaire to the author?

    Seems to me the author herself ought to be mainly responsible for hooking up with rank-and-file blogs. I hate getting emailed by marketing people about books when the author should be contacting me him or herself. For example, I got Daniel Gross’ book from a marketing person — had no idea who he was or what his ideas were like — tossed it in my pile of “maybe I’ll read this someday” — then later saw he writes for Newsweek and Slate. Too late though, the moment passed for me and I still didn’t read the book. (Anyway, doesn’t everyone know that bubbles are good for the economy? Seems obvious to me).

    If he had contacted me directly I’d be much more likely to do something with his book, maybe read it, maybe even review it on Amazon or on a blog.

    That’s one thing Tim Ferriss did — he reached out himself to lots of bloggers, individually. He didn’t rely on his publisher to do it.

    I think the publisher needs to do the traditional media stuff though. Most authors aren’t equipped to issue press releases and don’t have contacts within traditional media organizations while that’s exactly what the publishing company should be bringing to the table.

  • Ted Demopoulos, Blogging for Business said:

    I think I got some kind of a questionnaire, but the questions were pretty generic, and although I spent time on it I can pretty much guarantee it was 95%+ ignored.

    I took on the blogger outreach (and much of everything else) myself, as I expected I’d need to

  • Chris (author) said:

    Points taken on authors reaching out to bloggers. Not all authors are as willing to do that, and we feel its critical.

    Having said that, we like to think we “get it” and don’t send a typical “marketing mailing” to bloggers, but if an author is willing to do the legwork to make the contacts we do think that’s a bit more genuine.

  • Jennifer Webb said:

    I’ve really involved many of my authors in this process and have found it very effective to reach out to bloggers. A recently published author made the initial contact regarding the book and then I sent out the books once the blogger agreed to receive it. Often the authors already know these bloggers anyway, but it is still a nice courtesy. This way, the authors are making the personal contact, but not being burdened with the mailing and costs.

  • Dana Lynn Smith said:

    Great list of questions, Chris! Before I develop a book marketing plan for an author or indie publisher, I give the author a list of questions similar to these. The author is in the best position to know who are the most important contacts and influencers in their field, and I agree that it’s more effective for authors to contact bloggers directly.

  • Marilyn said:

    With a list like this, your sales should soar! My book just came out so I appreciate all the tips I can get, because I realized early on that a publisher publishes but they don’t market your book. You have to become a marketing expert. Thanks for offering the author these good marketing tools.

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