Your author questionnaire is an important part of your overall book marketing strategy. It's a document that describes essential information about your title, book cover, marketing plans, book description, comparative titles, and beyond. Author questionnaires help you define your book to retailers and focus your efforts on what's most important. Here's what you should include on your author questionnaire.
First, your questionnaire should include your name and a few sentences about your credentials, also known as your author biography. List any previously published work, including articles for magazines or pieces for news outlets and official websites. If you are marketing your debut, include relevant career information and noted public appearances. List the city where you live as well as information regarding other versions of your book. If you're stumped, think about the biographical information you've read on the covers of books by your favorite authors and go from there.
All About the Book
Include a sales hook or pitch that grabs potential readers right away. This is typically a few sentences that explain what your book is about, who you think will want to buy/read it, and why. This section is also where you include the book description for the back cover. Write a few sentences that briefly outline your book's story and intent. When you write this summary, include tempting details. For instance, what makes your book special? Does it address social issues? Provide guilty pleasure? Inform? Use sales-oriented language in your description that accurately describes your book so you attract your intended audience. Apply basic writing tips such as skipping the clichés, writing in the proper tense, how to break your back cover copy into paragraphs, and more.
Include information about three other published books that compare to yours. Choose print titles that are not on the bestseller list and include the title, author, ISBN, list price, publisher, and date published for each comparative title.
Book Industry Standards and Communications (BISAC) Subject Headings
Think of three BISAC subject headings that characterize and/or summarize the content of your book. Ultimately, this helps put your book in the right section of the bookstore for brick-and-mortar shoppers, or appear in the appropriate online search conducted by readers looking to read what you've written.
Public Relations and Marketing
This is where you'll outline your book marketing strategy. Exactly how are you going to promote your book? Include the URL for your author website, social media presences, any planned appearances on radio or TV, expected print interviews and book reviews, scheduled author events like book readings and book signings, professional publicity you will be paying for, and professional outlets with whom you will be working.
It might seem like a lot of information, but this data is critical when it comes to focusing your attention and defining pieces of your book that are most selling. You should already know and understand that these details are important, but you might be surprised what direction your efforts take once you define them for yourself on paper and for retailers.
To learn more about topics like this one, download the free Pocket Guide to Publishing.