How To Survey Readers FREE

There are several authors who involve their readers through games and surveys. One author who stands out in my mind is Janet Evanovich. For the Stephanie Plum series, her readers are asked to submit their ideas for the name of the next book. Another successful author gives away free copies after a reader gives feedback.

I think this is brilliant marketing as well as a great way to involve your reader in future publications.

Every time an author (who by default is a marketer) faces the next stage of publication and distribution, a new era of learning presents itself. Having decided to give away a free copy of my first novel, The Supernatural Prodigy, to anyone who helps me out with a survey, I then had to learn the mechanics of such an endeavor.

Where do I get the surveys? How do I give away the book? How many completed surveys will I need?

Google came to my rescue once again. Not only do they have free surveys in Google Forms, but they also let you import pictures for each question. The survey I used is called “Customer Feedback.” A wonderful tool for anyone wanting to test a product.

Here are some of the amazing benefits of this survey:

  • Collects the email if you request it so you can send the person his/her reward or more information
  • Several options for the answers (short text, paragraph, multiple choice)
  • Make it a required question, or not
  • Add a progress bar so they know how close to the end they are
  • Add a picture (automatically formatted including size) as a header
  • Add a picture (product, book, etc.) on each question
  • Choose or upload a background picture
  • Choose the color of the invitation
  • Option for the answers to go directly to an excel sheet in Google Docs
  • Easy edit which is automatically saved
  • Easy setup with little to study
  • Did I say easy? Try SUPER EASY!
  • Links to Facebook, Twitter, email, embed code, or link for easy distribution
  • Includes a “Thank you” message (editable) for instant reward or redirect
  • Has an option for the person to see the real-time results
  • Oh, and I did mention it is COMPLETELY FREE!

Here are some examples of how the responses look:

To see my design, CLICK HERE. You don’t have to do the survey to see how professional Google makes them.

I recommend getting about 100 responses to find out what you want to know. If you have your book on Amazon, find the gift option and send it to your respondents. It’s that easy.

I highly recommend using this tool to find out what your public is thinking and what they want.

If you have other ideas for saving money or helping authors, please add them to the comments.

Writing Prompts

Stuck for an idea for your story? Play with “writing prompts.”

You can search it online or on Pinterest. Writing prompts are great for practice, fun, and get the creative juices flowing.

Here’s an example, using a line from my book:

His mother appeared at the door. “Grab a shovel and meet me out back.”

What do you think happens next? Or maybe you’d like to think of what happened up to this point.

That’s what a writing prompt is. It prompts you to write.

One of the most used prompts is “What if…”

Neil Gaiman once said, in response to where he gets his ideas, that he thinks in “what ifs.” Like, if you become a vampire by being bitten, what if the vampire bites a frog?

Feel free to add your favorite writing prompts in the comments below.

Happy imagination…

Writing Tools


With almost seventy percent of Americans wanting to write, one would think there would be far more tools out there. It has taken some time for me to find them.  Let me save you some time and effort.

My first breakthrough in my quest to find economical sources for critiques and editing was Critique Circle.  My second breakthrough I found in their forum, ProWritingAid.  Here’s why you should use both of them:

  • You get both sides of the coin as a writer
  • You save a ton of money on editing

When you write, you may experience a cycle of content and discontent.  In other words, there may be times when you hate your work or get sick of it.  Dorothy Parker once said, “I hate writing, I love having written.”  It’s easy for a published author of several novels to say it’s a wonderful career.  He or she has completed their work and it was accepted.

But, when you’re in the middle of a novel and you’re running out of steam, you may need a break.  That’s when I head on over to Critique Circle and start reading someone else’s work.  It’s FREE but you can upgrade for more benefits.  The most that would cost is $10 for one month or less than $4 a month if you pay for the year.  Well worth it if you have an entire novel written.

Here are a few of the benefits I’ve experienced:

  • I discovered I know stuff (grammar, spelling, punctuation)
  • It felt really good to help someone else do what I want to do
  • By critiquing as a reader, I learned more as a writer
  • I realized, as a writer, I’m not alone
  • The buddy system is almost like being in college
  • The two to one ratio of critique/getting critiqued kept me writing
  • I was compelled to be courageous and let someone else see my work
  • I found critiques from strangers far more honest than friends and family
  • I’ve saved time, money, and potential embarrassment

At Critique Circle (CC), they call critiquing “critting” — which would make us “critters,” I guess.  Here’s a video on how it works.

Before you post your blog, assignment, short story, poem, or chapter, head over to ProWritingAid.  “Critters” only have a certain amount of time and patience.  If the work is riddled with spelling, grammar, and punctuation errors, the critiquer has little time to critique the story.  It’s a waste of the writer’s and reader’s time.  At ProWritingAid, you can copy-paste your work into their writing tool and fix the English.

They also have a plagiarism tool and a lot of other goodies but it’s only free for the first 500 words.  Premium is $40 for the year (or less if you buy two years and so on–pro-rated).  Consider the cost of editing (average of $35/hour) and you’ll see it’s worth it.

If you know about other economical tools and groups that have helped you as a writer, please share the information in the comments below.  You can also let me know what information you’d like to see in the next blog.

See you at Critique Circle.