How to use a quiz to promote your book (with example from a NYT best seller)

To make a quiz for your book, head to   Books are the perfect content for quizzes because they all have characters (okay not all, but a good majority). I’ll be the first to admit I don’t know much about the world of book promotion, but luckily we have an excellent example to work off […]

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To make a quiz for your book, head to

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Books are the perfect content for quizzes because they all have characters (okay not all, but a good majority). I’ll be the first to admit I don’t know much about the world of book promotion, but luckily we have an excellent example to work off of for this guide, “The Innovators” by Walter Isaacson the best-selling author of “Steve Jobs.”

So without further ado, here is your guide to creating a quiz that builds interest for your next book.

1. What to write your quiz about

Your book – sorry, had to do that. Personality quizzes are consistently our top performing content at Interact, and if your book has characters, the title should definitely be “Which Character are You?” If you don’t have characters or it’s a non-fiction book, you can do a knowledge test quiz to see how much people know about the subject of your book.

The temptation I sometimes see is that authors don’t think their book reaches a broad enough audience, and they want the subject of the quiz to be more inclusive. Don’t fall for that! We’ve learned that “general interest” quizzes perform terribly, but quizzes that reach a specific audience do very well. Don’t worry if your audience is only a few thousand, or even a few hundred – if those people care about your quiz it will get the reach it needs.

2. Crafting the quiz title

1. The “Which character are you?” quiz: For example “Which Innovator are you?” for a book about innovators (pictured below).

2. The “How much do you know?” quiz: For example “How much do you know about UK history? for a coffee table book about the history of the UK.

3. The “What type of (blank) are you?” quiz: For example “What’s your business style? for a book about starting a company.

3. Writing the questions

Quiz questions are the most fun part to write, you have so much freedom with them and can really create something special for your audience, here are a few tips we’ve seen to work really well when writing quiz questions.

Keep your writing personality

Most writers have a writing ego (even I have one for blog posts like this one). You’ll want to keep that persona in your quiz to build continuity between the quiz and your book and connect with your audience online. Remember, you have a few hundred pages to connect with readers in your book, but only a few questions to do it in your quiz, so be personable.

Keep it short

I know your book is complex. There’s character development and intricacies that take pages to develop, the plot is thick and interwoven – but stop for a second. No one wants to answer 50 questions about your book (I say 50 because that’s happened before). Keep the quiz at a reasonable length, reasonable being 5-10 questions. That amount of questions will take about 2 minutes, enough time to build some rapport but short enough to prevent people from clicking away to the latest article about Kanye West.

Be conversational

A quiz is a unique form of content. You get an opportunity to speak directly to your reader, and have them respond in real time – nothing else provides that opportunity. Take advantage of this unique proposition by using a conversational voice in your questions. The goal is to create a connection in a few questions that will lead to a relationship with the reader and eventually a purpose, so make sure to be personal.

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4. Should I collect email subscribers?

Interact quizzes can be used to build your email list, but it’s not always the right choice. We’ve seen authors achieve opt-in rates of 50% or better on their quizzes, while others fail to get any new leads. There are a couple of reasons for such varied results.

Offer value other than just seeing the quiz results

The best quizzes have a reason for collecting your email address. Maybe it’s a 15% discount on your upcoming book, or an opportunity to hear from the author that’s limited to email subscribers. Whatever it is, you need more than to just hang the opportunity to see the quiz results over readers’ heads to achieve really solid opt-in rates.

Have a plan for how you’ll follow-up

Don’t just collect emails because you heard “there’s value in a list.” Have a full plan for how you want to use those email addresses before you even get the first contact. This could be a discount followed by a series of interesting articles taken from your book, or it could be an insider’s list from you as the author. Make sure you know what you’re going to send, and that will help you craft the call to action for getting opt-ins in the first place.

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5. Writing quiz results

This is what your readers have been waiting for! They’ve answered all your questions and now it’s time for the big reveal, don’t screw it up 🙂 Quiz results

Have enough results to make it realistic

The key here is to follow up on your promise at the beginning of the quiz. If your quiz is titled “are you more like this character or this one?” then you only need two results, but if it’s titled “Which Character are You?” you’d better have all the characters in your quiz results. I’ve seen quizzes self destruct when hundreds of Facebook comments reveal that everyone gets the same result in a quiz – it’s not good.

Be positive

Turns out no one likes a negative quiz result. We ran a test and found that 75%of social shares originating from quizzes are overwhelmingly positive (judging by certain positive keywords contained in the shares). One easy way to make every result uplifting is to focus on the good parts of the character or readout you are giving and write the entire result based on those one or two attributes. That way you just avoid the negative.

Include a follow-on link

This one is real important, and it has to do with psychology. Here’s the deal – when people finish your quiz they are invested and curious. They’ve just spent a few minutes answering your questions, many of which are quite personal, and now you are making a judgement on their life. This is the perfect place to provide follow-up content so that person can learn more about you, your book, and why you have the right to judge them. This all sounds a bit negative, but it’s really not, it’s just that you have an opportunity to continue a conversation with a potential customer, so you should do it by including a link.

Ideally, each quiz result has its own link. One idea I’ve seen work is to include a link to learn more about the character that the quiz taker is most like and then also have an offer to buy the book on that page where the character is described.

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6. Amplifying your reach through sharing

Have a closed loop! The picture below shows what a closed loop is, and the closed loop is one of the biggest advantages Interact has to offer our customers. The way it works is that you make a quiz, embed it in your site, and then customize the social share link so that it points back to the page on your website where the quiz is embedded. With this method you never lose any of your audience to social sites.

closed loop concordia


To make a quiz for your book, head to

Make Your Own Quiz For Free

Josh Haynam

Josh Haynam is the co-founder of Interact, a place for creating beautiful and engaging quizzes that generate email leads. Outside of Interact Josh is an outdoor enthusiast, is very into health/fitness, and enjoys spending time with his community in San Francisco.

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