With just a few clicks of a mouse, you can quickly crowdsource valuable and actionable content creation ideas for a new book. It’s as simple as requesting a little input from an excited and willing group of participants, then waiting a short while to receive tons of useful feedback from them.
Now imagine that you’ve make a few of these input requests and have gathered a large quantity of ideas, insights and information.
How far do you think a treasure trove like that would go towards helping you create a new book offer? You’d most likely be able to quickly and easily piece together a novel or information resource.
Now imagine also having an eager and waiting audience that can’t wait to get their hands on you book as soon as it’s complete because it’s exactly what they’ve been longing for?
This scenario can be your reality if you make designing and using surveys an integral part of your self-publishing process.
Why Are Surveys Popular and Useful?
Surveys have been a longstanding staple of the business world.
Research groups typically use them as a way to learn more about a particular group of people or a focused topic. And more specifically, as a means of discovering specific answers to important questions, for gathering data and general information and as a powerful tool for decision making.
Major goals related to conducting surveys include:
- Getting truthful and unbiased feedback and opinions. The private and confidential nature of most surveys makes it easier for participants to offer honest and open feedback without fear of being intimidated or judged.
- Decision making based on objective data points. Researchers and businesses alike rely on the unbiased data they get from survey participants. This data helps them make decisions based on concrete facts instead of guessing and speculation. Well-developed and executed surveys make the process of identifying major issues simple, while dramatically reducing time spent focusing on less important factors.
- Tracking and comparing changes in opinions, behaviors and attitudes over time. Surveys allow you to pinpoint the feelings, attitudes, beliefs and opinions of a group at a specific point in time. They let you track any changes that occur in those factors if a follow-up survey is given to the same group at a latter point in time.
- Initiating discussions on important topics. Surveys make a smooth transition from asking a simple question to having the responses turn into an active discussion surrounding the topic at hand.
These are all excellent reasons for conducting surveys, but the most important question right now is how can you use this tool as a part of your long-term self-publishing strategy?
Practical Survey Applications for Self-Publishers
There are literally thousands of ways that you could use surveys to help you move forward with your goal of being a successful self-published author, but in the interest of focus and brevity, here are a few of the most practical applications.
- Use surveys to find out exactly what your audience wants to read.
One of the biggest problems that plagues self-published authors is figuring out what to write.
Instead of putting the cart before the horse, the wise thing to do is to ask your audience what they want to see. This is an easy way to avoid spending your precious time creating content that no one wants to read, or worse yet, staring at a blank screen completely paralyzed because you have zero ideas.
Find a group of your potential customers (or previous customers) and simply ask them what kind of book they would like to read.
Ask enough people and repetitive answers and patterns will start to emerge. The responses will clue you in about the kinds of content to focus on.
Having this type of clarity makes forging ahead with a project or finding inspiration to flesh out a novel or information resource much easier than figuring it out on your own.
- Use surveys to find actionable direction for book ideas.
Let’s say you’re not totally stumped for an idea for a new book. In fact, you’re suffering from the exact opposite problem. You have too many ideas. So many that you don’t know where to begin.
What do you do if you find yourself faced with this conundrum? You ask your prospects and potential customers to tell you which of your ideas interests them the most.
One of three things will likely happen:
- One of your ideas will get a majority vote.
- There is a “tie” between two or more options and you’ll have to dive deeper to find the best way forward.
- You discover that prospects aren’t interested in any of the ideas presented (back to the drawing board!)
No matter how things go, surveys help to keep you moving forward by giving you the confidence to proceed with or reject specific ideas.
- Use surveys for character names and development.
Why stop at idea selection when there is so much more you can crowdsource with your target audience?
If you’re writing a fiction novel, you ask for ideas and opinions related to character names and development. Fiction fans tend to have very imaginative and creative minds, so don’t be surprised that they can be an incredible asset for coming up with potential names and personality quirks for characters in your upcoming book.
Even if you don’t end up using them all, be sure to keep a list of the suggestions you receive. They may have the potential to become the basis of characters in future novels.
- Use surveys to select your book title.
One smart way to use surveys is for making decisions about how to title your finished book. You can also survey your audience to determine the best way to use subheadings throughout your work or for chapter names.
Doing these types of surveys helps you to select the titles, subheadings and other headlines that have maximum appeal with your audience members.
- Use surveys to design your book cover.
Once you’ve completed your manuscript, the surveying doesn’t have to stop there.
If you want to make sure that the outside of your new book appeals to potential customers as much as the inside, create a survey with the goal of coming up with the best design for your book cover.
Here’s the best way to go about it:
- Have a graphic designer come up with at least two mockup ideas for your cover design.
- Create your survey with the two images included and send it to your survey group for feedback. For the best results, be sure to include a field that allows them to tell you why they prefer one design over the other.
- Tally the results and focus on the top performing mock up.
- Have your graphic designer update the winning design and present two slightly varying mockups (font colors and styles) based on the input gathered from the first survey.
- Create a new survey with the new images included and ask for more feedback.
- Keep using the responses you receive to tweak the image until you create a design that has widespread appeal with your target audience.
If you want to start using surveys to boost your self-publishing speed and effectiveness, you’re probably wondering where to begin and how to get people to participate.
How to Publish (and Profit) Quickly
Create journals, planners, picture books and more—all with Microsoft PowerPoint (and almost no writing). This guide makes it easy.
Plus, we'll share regular tips and special offers with you via email.