By Peggy Thomas
Once you have sold your manuscript, revised, and met editorial approval, you will inevitably get an author questionnaire from the marketing department. I dread filling these out because I usually don’t have the information at my fingertips. Instead, I’m doing google searches for bookstore contact info and slogging through my files to find the last time I was interviewed and by what press. So, I suggest building your marketing toolkit now, so you’ll have all the material in one handy place.
1. Your bio: I have a short one that is about 50 words, one that is around 100 words, and a fuller bio of about 300 words. Most people request the short one, but be prepared.
2. A list of honors, awards, or prizes you have received: for writing, unless you are a champion pole vaulter and your book is a how-to.
3. Academic affiliations: Universities or colleges you attended, degrees and dates.
4. A list of your books: Also keep a list of any magazines, newspapers, or journals you’ve written for.
5. A list of blogs where your work has appeared.
6. Your digital presence: Are you on Facebook, X, Instagram? List your account names, which hopefully are the same or similar to keep you “on brand.”
7. A list of media contacts: You don’t have to know a specific person, but list the names and contact details for local newspapers; television news; regional magazines, etc.
Now comes the tricky part. Marketing departments want to know who you know. Who might be willing to endorse your book, or write a blurb? Which “influencers” could help spread the word through social media? This is where I struggle because I don’t like to bother people. But I know these folks are vital to a book’s success. So, make a list of your support team.
1. Author friends. The Ninjas are always cross-promoting each other.
2. Experts who helped with research.
3. The subject’s family if you wrote a biography – Nancy Churnin says the families are some of her best book cheerleaders.
4. Teachers and librarians who support your work.
Influencers are people on social media who have a large following. Look for parents, teachers, librarians, and anyone who may have a special connection to your subject matter. My new title is a board book about forests, so I am making a list of parent influencers who have a special interest in nature. Fueled with this information, the marketing department can reach out, provide a digital review copy in the hopes that the influencer likes it enough to post a review, recommend, or host a giveaway.
I am also compiling a list of organizations centered around trees and forests. According to Tessa Houstoun, marketing manager for Phaidon Press, she can then ask if they would like to host a giveaway or offer a discount code to their members.
Last but not least, make a list of holidays related to your subject. Besides Arbor Day and Earth Day, there is also National Forest Day, National Love a Tree Day, Plant a Tree Day, International Day of Forests, and National Forest Product Week.
So, start making your lists, and when that author questionnaire comes, you’ll wow the marketing department with your PR prowess.
For more ideas on marketing check out Chelsea Tornetto’s blog post.
About the author:
Peggy Thomas is happiest with her feet in the soil and her head in the trees, and now after dozens of award-winning books she will finally have a book about soil and another about trees. THE SOIL IN JACKIE'S GARDEN (Feeding Minds Press) and A FAMILY OF TREES: MY FIRST BOOK ABOUT FORESTS (Phaidon Press) will be released in May 2024.