Sunday, December 13, 2009

Do Book Trailers Work?

Do these book trailers really do any good? There’s a big discussion going on over on one of these lists about this, on that recurs often from place to place. In the case that is being talked about the publisher wants trailers to go on a DVD the sales reps can use to go out and pitch books and in that case the answer is they will absolutely do some good. I have a friend that is in book acquisition for some bookstores and he tells me they simply do not have the time to read all the books they acquire so they depend on some trusted review sources, or sometimes the decision is made as simply as the cover and how they think it will display on the shelves and be picked up. They would look with great favor on such a DVD.

But how about your average reader? Are they swayed by trailers? Do they even see them? Who knows? Putting my writer hat on I try to build things in to various promotion sources when I can that will show me where success is coming from. After all, most of the time when we sell a book we don’t know what triggered that buying decision. Word of mouth is the most effective thing, I think most people agree on that, but how was that word of mouth promotion generated?

Does the trailer do that? Do blog tours do that? Promoting the book on various online groups, is that what makes it happen? Doing book-signings and programs and being a guest on radio or TV or getting interviewed somewhere, is that it? The answer is yes, all of the above and anything more that we can think of.

It’s great when we can decide something is definitely working so we can do more of it. It’s even good when we see something doesn’t work so we can not do it again. I did a contest with one of my books that drew no entries. That means I wasn’t out the prize for the contest as nobody won it, and just the existence and promotion of the contest may have triggered some sales, no way to tell. But on the surface the contest was a bust so I won’t do it again.

It’s called platform and while we seldom can tell what is really triggering purchases, the more of it we have the better. P T Barnum, the old circus promoter, said it. He said “I don’t care what you say about me as long as you spell my name right.” He meant all publicity is eventually good publicity. I’ve seen folks with very questionable activity in their past get elected to office. Voters didn’t remember WHY they recognized the name, they just knew it was familiar. I’d rather people be more discerning than that but it proves the point.

People buy books because they see a name they can identify with more than anything else. How did the name become familiar? It might have been that book trailer, the author may never know. Or it might have been any one of the other activities the author is doing to generate visibility. And you want to know the funny thing? The purchaser may not even know themselves why they are familiar with the name, they just are.

Like I say, the answer is “all of the above.”

1 comment:

B.K. Jackson said...

Despite all the technology, I'm still swayed by the good old fashioned book cover. If that grabs me (even if I'm browsing online) I'll look further.

I don't have the time or interest to watch book trailers--and things like that assume the reader has the latest greatest technology to play the book trailer in the first place.

The only way I'd be likely to view a book trailer is doing so for someone, say Nancy Turner, who is a favorite author.