Wednesday, July 14, 2010

To Trailer or not to Trailer

As a brand-new author with a very limited marketing budget - like, say, what I can squeeze out between mortgage payments, car payments, college payments; well, you get the idea - I've tried to follow trends in the industry as best I can, so that when FINAL VECTOR comes out in February, I can get the most bang for my buck, so to speak, promotionally.

So it was with interest that I read a recent New York Times piece on the value, or lack thereof, of the book trailer. You know them, these are the bookish equivalent of movie trailers, normally running anywhere from thirty seconds to several minutes in length, produced for the express purpose of persuading you to buy the book.

The piece was an interesting read, although I'm not sure I agree with the author, Pamela Paul's, take on the situation. At one point she says, "the trailer is fast becoming an essential component of online marketing."

Yet the numbers she cites later in the story don't seem to back up that view. She says, "According to a June survey of 7,561 book buyers by the Codex Group, a marketing research firm, only 0.2 percent discovered their last book through a video book trailer, and another 0.1 percent were persuaded to buy their last book that way."

Yes, you read that quote right. Point two percent and point one percent! Or, to translate for those of you whose math skills aren't quite at the level you wish they were, practically no one! It's hard for me to imagine how one person out of five hundred, or one person out of a thousand, justifies the time, effort and cost of producing a book trailer.

To be fair, most of the focus of the story was on the non-fiction market. But my gut feeling is that the numbers probably wouldn't be terribly different for fiction readers than for non-fiction readers. The thing I found most interesting was mentioned later: a 2009 survey conducted by, where 46% of teen readers responding said they watched book trailers online, and even more to the point, an incredible 45% said they bought a book after watching the trailer.

So what does all this mean to a fifty year old debut novelist in the thriller genre? Probably not much, although if the numbers are to be believed, the value of the well-produced book trailer may skyrocket as all those teen readers graduate from young adult books to . . . well . . . older adult books, like, say, those that I write.

For now, though, I can't really see the value of a trailer for FINAL VECTOR, although I'm certainly keeping an open mind on the subject. If M. Night Shyamalan were to offer his services, I might be persuaded to change my mind.

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