I was interested to read the article in the Sunday NEW YORK TIMES Book Review about how the Web and online publicity is taking an ever larger share of authors’ promotions. Promotional websites started in 2002 and have rapidly expanded since then, and about 60% of today’s marketing by publishers and authors alike is done on the Web.
Over the past few years, publishing houses have encouraged their writers to create a robust online presence, and talented experts have created book-specific websites and videos for an increasing number of authors, who usually support these projects from their own pockets.
The creation of a Book website with attractive and continuous updated material can be a substantial addition to the marketing of a book. Some authors try to increase their chances of sales by including a book video modeled on a movie trailer. These have become increasingly popular since 2006, with the advent of YouTube and MySpace.
A recent survey found that 8% of book shoppers visited author websites in any given week. However, nobody seems to know how many of those visitors have clicked on to the “buy the book” link. Nevertheless as with all things “online,” there are plenty of companies trying to persuade those potential shoppers to buy.
To promote my novel, I have tried all of these avenues – the website, video, online publicity and blogging. In addition, I created what I hoped would be a unique and interesting promotion to help sales. Many of my readers commented on how they thought my book would make a good movie, and this led to the very enjoyable “game” of selecting actors and actresses to fit the parts. I decided to turn this into a Hollywood Casting Director Contest, where readers have been able to select their choices for the leading parts in a movie version of the book (I do have three producers looking at the project), and the winner selected last week will receive a free trip to Hollywood.
The publishing world not unexpectedly, has been slow to embrace these new forms of marketing, but they are all facing the same problem of declining sales and profitability. Thus authors, agents, and indeed some publishers now recognize that they have to try new ideas.
Since 85% of the cost of online promotions are being paid for by the authors, the publishers have little to lose. Of course most authors will add book tours, book signings, discussion groups, and other traditional forms of media promotion to the mix. You have to try everything to achieve success.
Whether the websites, videos, and other online activity help sell books, is an unknown quantity. But, speaking personally, I thought it was worth a try.
Ellis M. Goodman, author of Bear Any Burden: www.bearanyburden.com