When meeting someone new, I like to ask a lot of questions and figure out how to get to know them. They hold so much potential to explore, a fresh world for me to view. Here at Ooligan, we use a similar process with a new acquisition. We send out an author questionnaire—a document with several questions for the author to fill out and share back with us. The answers to these questions provide our marketers with access to knowledge about an author, which can be key in successfully marketing the author’s book.
The author questionnaire is the book marketer or publicist’s first opportunity to glean information about the author, their work, their connections, and anything and everything that can help connect the book to more potential readers. The purpose of the questionnaire isn’t to make the author do all of the marketer’s work, but rather to gather as much helpful information as possible.
Some questions included in the questionnaire might ask about the author’s existing connections. For example, do they know other authors, journalists, or booksellers who might be able to help out? If they do, it can help marketers gather positive reviews and blurbs from recognizable people, or plan marketing events to reach out to buyers. Authors are full of unexpected connections, and the questionnaire gives them a chance to think about what they can bring to the table to market their book.
The author also has the opportunity in the author questionnaire to share how they see their book being marketed. This gives them a voice in the plan for their manuscript, and a chance to share creative and helpful ideas. Who else knows the appeal and intrigue of a manuscript better than the author? The author can identify the themes and images central to the story they most want their readers to understand. Authors have a unique view into their potential readership—they often have a strong understanding of the people who will want to read their finished product prior to submitting their work to a publisher.
The author questionnaire also frequently asks catchall questions. What other things beyond writing is the author involved in, passionate about, and connected to? Hobbies, groups, clubs, awards, and more all provide the marketer with potential opportunities they may not have thought to ask the author about. An author may have useful connections, such as acquaintances who run their town newspaper, or who share their hobby of selling wooden sculptures. Such information can help the marketer come up with potential events.
Ultimately, the author questionnaire helps shed light on the marketing process for the author, and gives them more agency in the marketing of their book. It also helps the marketer use every potential opportunity to make the book successful. With a long list of questions and a wide range of topics, the marketer and author will find valuable information to make a wildly successful publishing campaign.