As You Know Magic District Readers, my first novel comes out in February 2010. Just five months! That means I’ve entered the hardcore pre-release promotional phase — lining up readings, giving out ARCs to reviewers, planning my convention schedule for next year, etc. I’m a typical debut novelist; some things my publisher will handle, but other things are up to me. I’ve had some nifty bookmarks made, and will be taking those to World Fantasy in a couple of weeks. Have been scoping out spots for my book launch party, and think I may have just found the perfect place. And so on.
Among other things, I’m having a real debate with myself about whether to do a video or audio book trailer. I’ve seen a lot of the former on YouTube and authors’ websites; they’re trendy now. But frankly, I can think of only a few that actually served to get me interested in the book… and the ones that worked for me were clearly not made for cheap. An audio trailer is cheaper and easier to put together, and I think I have a better chance of snaring potential buyers by running ads on popular science fiction podcasts and radio shows — in particular those I’ve been on or will be going on in the coming months.
Here’s the thing, though: I’m shooting in the dark here. I have no actual clue whether a video or audio trailer is more effective. So much of marketing is conditional: if the trailer is good it might be effective, and if the trailer is poor it might actually hurt the novel’s sales. (I doubt that, actually, but you never know.) Bookmarks might help a potential reader remember to buy the book if the author is friendly and personable, but if the author’s a schmuck the bookmark could actually serve as the reminder of an unpleasant experience. So who’s to say what’s really effective and what’s not?
Well — marketing people, actually; they do research and stuff. But a lot of marketing research is proprietary and thus never shared with the public… and more significantly, a lot of the marketing questions I have are so small-scale that they’re beneath the radar of Srs Mrktg Bznss. I seriously doubt whether anyone has ever studied the efficacy of four-inch laminated bookmarks versus 3×5″ matte postcards. You’d spend more on conducting that study than on just buying the postcards and crossing your fingers.
So here’s where you come in.
Stats for the Magic District show that we get about 200 unique hits a day. Not bad for a bunch of n00b authors (two of whom don’t even have books out yet), and better than I usually do by myself on my own website. We do much better on days when one of us writes a really kickass post — like Maggie’s famously awesome text adventure, for example. That post has since gotten almost 6000 hits all total. More modest but still good numbers for something like my own Describing Characters of Color pt. 2 post for awhile back — that one’s at 1300 unique hits. Most of these come along in the day or two after the post is made. So basically, during any given week we’ve got a few thousand folks traipsing through here. Which makes you guys a handy-dandy research sample, for my purposes.
Now, OK, my old grad school research methods professor would come beat me if she knew I was doing this. A few thousand people is far too small a sample for statistical significance, and this is going to be just a quickie poll, not a proper survey checked for reliability and validity. Still, the information could be useful for me and the other Magic Districters, so please take a moment to fill out the poll below. Pass the word to other SF/F readers so we can get more responses. As you’re filling this out, some things to keep in mind:
a) Assume that all the promotional methods mentioned here are average examples thereof — e.g., think of typical bookmarks you’ve seen, not the craptastic ones that Joe the Author printed out on his spotty inkjet using MS Word Clip Art.
b) Please click on a method only if it caused you to buy a book or reserve it at the library, etc. If you thought, “Hey, neat bookmark”, then promptly forgot about the book, then it wasn’t effective. But if you thought “Hey, neat bookmark”, and hopped on Amazon to preorder it, then that counts.
c) If you’ve run across another method that was effective, please fill it in, or mention it in the comments. Fresh ideas are welcome here, folks.
So here goes:
ETA: Argh. For some reason, when people fill in an answer for “Other”, the answer doesn’t appear. Not sure what the problem is, but please put your answers in the comments of this post instead, folks. Sorry.
Your response can help impoverished newbie authors get their careers off the ground! Can’t you spare us a click for a good cause?