How To Write An Author Q&A That Compels Readers To Buy

Expert publishing blog opinions are solely those of the blogger and not necessarily endorsed by DBW.

Is Your Publishing Toolkit As Strong As It Can Be?An important element in every author’s media kit is the Author Q&A. A powerful Author Q&A can go far in generating interest for your book. This document provides potential readers a deeper perspective on your writing and some background on you as a person. The more readers know about you and your work, the more compelled they’ll be to purchase your book. Here are some tips for creating a Q&A that will attract the audience your book deserves.

What’s an Author Q&A?

An Author Q&A is a staple of a book media kit. A media kit is a set of documents that includes a book description, an author photo, a cover image, your bio, and an Author Q&A.

How is an Author Q&A used?

If you’re an author in charge of your own book promotions, you know it’s important to create a buzz among bloggers and journalists. When a blogger or journalist responds to your marketing inquiry, he or she will surely ask for your media kit.

These reviewers can use the Q&A content from your media kit in several ways. If they intend to schedule an interview with you, your Q&A provides helpful background information. They’ll use your questions and answers as a way to become more familiar with your interests, your subject mater, your background and your goals. If the journalist of blogger intends to write a review of your book, the Q&A can supplement and direct their impressions as they read your book. Sometimes, bloggers pull chunks of text directly out of your Q&A and include it in their articles—or even post your entire Q&A word for word. So it’s important to write a well-crafted, complete, professional Q&A.

Format, Tone & Length

You can create your Q&A in a word processing program and save it as a PDF. As a PDF, the content stays fixed and cannot get accidentally deleted or changed. You will probably email the file to the blogger or journalist, along with the other elements of your media kit, so try to keep the file size fairly small.

The formatting of the document can be single spaced, perhaps with an extra space between each question so the text is easy for busy journalists to scan. The document does not need imagery, as you will also be providing your author photo and cover art as separate parts of the Media Kit.

Don’t use fancy fonts or distracting formatting, even if you think the design will reflect the style of your book. The narrative voice in your book is what should be setting the tone, not your fonts. Your Q&A is a working document for professional reviewers. The Q&A can be one or two pages, no longer.

Header

The header of an Author Q&A is not intended to be fancy or mysterious. In that way it differs from the title of a book. Just be clear and direct. I recommend a header such as “Question And Answer With {___Your Name___} The Author Of {___Your Title___}.”

What to include in an Author Q&A?

If you’re not sure what to write, we’ve provided a handy template below. Use these questions as a basis for your own Q&A. Feel free modify any question to fit the unique quirks of your book and special interests of your readers.

Sample Q&A Questions

1. Tell us about yourself.

Include information that relates to the book. For example if the book takes place in your home town, mention you grew up where the book is set. If your book reflects an expertise that you have, mention how you acquired that expertise. Remember, your Media Kit includes an author bio, make sure this answer supplements that information instead of repeating it.

2. Give a brief description of your book, {___YOUR TITLE___}

As the answer above should be separate from your bio, your response here needs to be different from your official book description. Your tone can be casual or formal. You can summarize the plot briefly and include some words that describe your writing style.

3. Why did you write {___YOUR TITLE___} ?

The first question is about you. This question is about your motives. Answer this question by providing the impetus behind your choice to write the book. You can offer an emotional motive (“my heart ached when they closed the old bowling alley”) or an altruistic one (“I had to share this story so it wouldn’t happen to anyone else”).

4. {___YOUR TITLE___} has a character who specializes in {___SOMETHING THEY DO___}. What about that specialty interests you?

Modify this question to communicate a unique attribute of your book or the people you write about.

5. Is this book part of a series?

If your book is a stand alone, you can skip this question unless you intend to write more books like this. If it’s in a series, where does it fall? What is the schedule of publication of the other books?
6. The writing style of {___YOUR TITLE___} is so expressive. Can you tell us about your methods?
If you can’t describe your own writing style, ask a few people who’ve read your book to give you three adjectives to describe it. Try to avoid comparing your book to other actual books or comparing your style to other actual authors. Stake your own ground with your own unique description.

7. The setting of {___YOUR TITLE___}  adds much to the texture of the story. Can you tell us about why you chose to set the story there?

This information is especially important to the journalists and bloggers in the region where your story takes place (if it happens to be a real place). Mention specific places (such as “the old boater’s dock” or “the rotary on Highway 305”) if they’re part of your book. If your book is in a completely fictional locale, paint a picture of what the setting is like so people can imagine what it’s like. Mention any reasons the setting is an important element in the story.

8. The idea of {___YOUR BOOK’S THEME___} is strong in your book. What about that idea moved you?

Here’s a chance to let your readers know the “heart” of your story. What moves you will likely move them, too.

9. What was the most challenging part of writing this book?

This question humanizes you. Talk about your struggles and vulnerabilities.

  1. What drew you to this particular story?

Question 3 above explains you why you wrote the story, and this gives you another chance to talk about your true motives. This answer can differ from your answer to Question 3 by being more specific to some precise elements of your story: Why is your novel told by a child’s point of view, for example, or why did your gardening book focus only on drought-resistant plants?

  1. What other books have inspired you?

Talk about your influences here. What writers do you like? What books were seminal in your life? Mentioning your literary preferences situates you in the community of authors. The books and authors you mention do not have to be in the same genre as your book, in fact, the contrast may be intriguing.

  1. How did you come up with the title?

You can list some of your “blooper” titles. Describe your process in coming up with the title. If your title reflects something important in your book, you can use this as an excuse to emphasize that idea.

  1. What is your favorite passage in the book and why?

This is your opportunity to let the audience have a peek inside the book. They’ll be able to get a taste for your tone and style. You can also try to hook the audience with something intriguing. If your book is non-fiction, offer a valuable nugget of wisdom. People may appreciate having learned something and come back for more.

  1. What aspects of your own life helped inspire this book?

This is another way to humanize you as an author. Talk about your own life and offer some examples of the ways it relates to the content of your book.

  1. What can readers hope to learn from this book?

Give your readers a reason to buy your book. but stick to the big picture here.  If it’s a fiction book, you could suggest that the reader might learn forgiveness or gratitude. If it’s a non-fiction book, explain the intended outcome. For example, a financial planning book may allow readers to learn that it’s easy to save for retirement.

A Powerful Part of Your Marketing Kit

If you follow these guidelines, reviewers and bloggers will have a useful document to work with. They’ll appreciate your thoroughness. Ask and answer the questions above and share them readily with anyone who asks to know more about your book—and watch your fan base grow!

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Beth Bacon

About Beth Bacon

Beth Bacon has an MFA in Writing For Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts. She helps organizations large and small define their brands and has a special expertise in helping authors market their books. Beth has won the The Candlewick Award for Picture Book Writing, the Marion Dane Bauer Award for Middle Grade Writing, and is a PSAMA PULSE Award Finalist for marketing.