Achieving More with Author Questionnaires

July 2001
by Tad Crawford & Michael Madole

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Every author dreams of selling huge quantities of his or her creative opus. And every publisher shares this dream, although perhaps with greater realism. How can the author and publisher combine forces to generate the most sales? How does an effective promotional campaign begin? Where can you uncover the secrets that will help in reaching special sales accounts and new avenues for distribution?

Allworth Press is a nonfiction publisher. Our authors are usually extremely knowledgeable in their fields and possess information that can help us formulate a strategy for positioning a book in the marketplace. The most effective way to collect valuable information from them is through a detailed Author’s Questionnaire. Long before one of our books reaches the copyediting and proofreading stages, we need the questionnaire to meet our deadlines for the promotional campaign.

Inside the gold mine

Our Author’s Questionnaire has evolved into four sections. Originally we asked for the author’s ideas on the book’s sales strategy, marketing, and publicity. Several years ago, we added a fourth section on Web site promotion, which complements our e-commerce efforts. The Author’s Questionnaire provides us with a gold mine of information that becomes the basis for everything we do to promote and sell the book; these efforts include title information sheets, catalog and jacket copy, advertisements, press releases, and more.

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