I don’t know what it is about questionnaires, but they strike me illiterate. Maybe it’s because they resemble an exam paper (I have never been good at exams). Or job applications, where you have to answer hypothetical questions, and list your strengths and weaknesses. Real questions are fine – like who was Prime Minister in 1973? That’s easy, you either know it or you don’t. And if you don’t you can look it up.
Question: “What aspects of your writing are unique and define you as an author?” Well, hell, I don’t know. You tell me (please).
Question: “Who do you envision purchasing and reading your book?” Honest answer? “No one really” or “I would”. I haven’t got that far with my ‘envisioning’. A few friends and family? A couple of other people if I’m lucky. “All women who like romance.” (CreateSpace example of the wrong answer: “All women who like cooking” – well it isn’t quite the same).
“Describe your target audience by factors such as age group, interest, education, gender, etc.” Sorry, I’m way out of my depth now. Is ‘education’ relevant to chick-lit romance? (That’s a question I’m asking – not one of theirs). I really don’t know the answer, maybe you do. Gender! Yes I know the answer to that (I can’t think of any men who read romances.) But the questions keep getting harder: “Describe the specific tone, themes, and mood you would like your book to convey.”
Surely, if I was able to write the book, I can come up with answers to these? Apparently not. Everything I’m typing in the answer boxes reads like hyperbole. I haven’t thought this through. I simply had a story I wanted to tell, so I wrote it down.
I am a typical, self-depreciating English woman. It goes against my nature to laud my own skills or blow my own trumpet. It has dawned on me that I will have to learn these traits if I do want to sell the book.
To the question “Describe any specific design ideas for the interior of your book.” I actually answered “None really. Clear and simple.” (I was getting weary by then). But I worked out later when I looked at examples, that I actually had quite a lot of opinions on the interior of my book. I possibly should have done more research. And viewed the examples before I wrote the answer. It’s that impatience thing again.
Similar problem with the cover for the book, and questions for the editor. My ideas for the cover were completely rubbish. But I didn’t know that until I saw it mocked up; and then I started looking at covers I liked and worked out what I wanted to achieve. Three steps forwards and two steps back. Every time.
I asked the editor for feedback on the title of the book. Working title “Circle of Trust”, alternative options “Mistrust” and “Once Bitten, Twice Shy”. Having already asked the six friends who had proof read the book, I received two votes for each. Which wasn’t very helpful. By the time I received my editor’s feedback the cover had been signed off and approved. I will get this process right, next time. (Ps. the book is called ‘Once Bitten, Twice Shy’)
One last comment about the dreaded questionnaire. When CreateSpace say “this page times out after 30 minutes” and “you may want to type and save your answers elsewhere”, it is good advice. The final question asks for a synopsis of your book, with as much detail as you can muster. Needless to say I couldn’t run that off in the 4 minutes I had remaining. Back to the drawing board. And learn some patience!