Thursday, June 18, 2009

fun tips on author questionnaires

Haggard night last night—Author Questionnaire for INTERN's doomed and wretched book was due today. The 15-page beast is now sitting in the inbox of a heaven-sent Publicity Lady thousands of miles away, along with a snaggle-toothed Author Photograph taken by an old friend. This was a fantastic learning experience, so collected below are THE INTERN's gleanings, in no particular order.

Gleaning #1: The Author Questionnaire is not a list of cute, fun questions like "Do you have any pets? What are their names?"

"Author Questionnaire" is a polite euphemism for "Time To Rake Yourself Over The Coals of Your Own Obscurity". It's a tool for helping publicity people decide how to best market your book, taking advantage of all the exposure, contacts, and experience you already have—or don't have. They wanna know who already knows you, and who might want to know you. For an unknown author, this is surprisingly hard to come up with. Be prepared for tears.

Gleaning #2: If INTERN was smart, she would have looked at this website and...wait, that's the only website I found that would have been somewhat useful...surely there must be more out there.

Gleaning #3: Public Library = Chamber of Divine Ecstasy

Discovering the Reference section of the library for the first time is like (INTERN supposes) dropping acid for the first time. The world explodes with new meaning, all references connecting, making sense, 1000s of parallel worlds revealing themselves, elephants dancing, walls bleeding...DIG IT, MAN:

Gale Directory of Publications & Broadcast Media: This is a million-page volume containing the names, addresses, column depth, circulation #s and whatnot of all the print and broadcast media in the US (and Canada, and the world). The volume THE INTERN drooled over was listed by town and contained (GET THIS) info about what the town was known for, in addition to listing its daily/weekly rags: e.g. Lovingford, Ohio: corn, soybeans, oats.

Using the information in this book, you could hypothetically plan a marketing campaign that would target EVERY PUBLICATION IN THE WORLD.

Encyclopedia of Associations: As if THE INTERN wasn't already tripping balls after discovering the Gale Directory, the next thing on the shelf was this tasty little number: comprehensive listings of EVERY ASSOCIATION in the US, their contact info, membership #, even their yearly budget.

Dig it: If you're having trouble building an author platform, you can go through this encyclopedia and join all sorts of crazy shit. Within months, you could be vice-president of the Puppeteers of America or the Tin Can Sailors (which "seeks to promote camaraderie among destroyermen") DESTROYERMEN!!!

There are also Media directories for every state, generally published in cheap spiral-bound volumes and filled with page after page of Kabbalistic radio station names (KRS314, KRT159, etc).

Ye gods! Public Library Ecstatic Wisdom Chamber is the answer!

Gleaning #4: Publicity People Good Wizards

Who else would treat INTERN's maniacal requests to promote her book on the side of airplane vomit bags with such grace and tact?

THAT IS ALL. Back to interning.


  1. I think I'm officially scared. Ten blogs that could promote my book efficiently? I could name maybe three.

    Ditto authors I'd like to have blurb my book. And I'm not sure all of them would!

    Good luck with the madness. And thanks for the warning!

  2. I checked out the website on author questionnaires. That is horrifying. I have absolutely no clue which blogs should know about my novel... the only blogs I read are agent/editor blogs, and I'm pretty sure they don't care.

  3. You can have the barf bags if I can have the flushable paper toilet seat covers.

  4. Book Promotion 101 has a great list of book publicity resources, and the teleseminars/workshops are fantastic. The individual consulting is also really helpful. I took the workshop a couple of years ago, and it was the most useful thing I've ever done publicity-wise.

  5. does it count if i own all ten? lol