This blog is devoted to remembrances and essays on general topics, including literature and writing. It has evolved over time, and some older posts on this site might reflect a different perspective and purpose.

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Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Advertising the Book

            F.W. Woolworth is reputed to have said, “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted. The problem is, I don’t know which half.” I just signed an advertising contract and can hardly wait to find out which half it gets me into.
            A bit of backstory is in order here. For my first two mystery novels, I produced video trailers to promote them. I thought they were pretty good, but when they went up on YouTube, even with extensive flogging on my part, hardly anyone was looking at them. The videos were essentially an unrecovered expense.
            My third novel, Not Death, But Love, came out at the end of May, and though I retained Chip Scheuer, my video guy, to do one for that book, I held off on getting it shot. The way I was looking at the whole thing was evolving, largely as the result of an article I read in Vanity Fair earlier this year.

Going Directly to the Reader

            It was a profile of the best-selling mystery author James Patterson, and one of the things it mentioned was that when he first started writing mysteries, he advertised his books on local television. Having been an ad man himself, Patterson knew the value of promotion, and his ads were simple, but, apparently, quite effective.
            That got me thinking that perhaps my next video trailer should be 30 seconds long so that it could be used as an ad on TV. Cable advertising is pretty reasonable these days, and I figured I could do a trial run somewhere at an affordable cost. If it gets results, I could try to build on it. If not, well, I tried.
            Rigo Torkos, who edited my previous videos, put me in touch with a cable TV consultant, and after considerable back and forth, I decided the idea of running the video on television in a closed market, just to see what happens, was feasible. Last week, I signed a contract to do a two-week test run in Monterey County in November.

The Target Audience

            Because the book centers on a retired English teacher who starts out to write her family’s history and gets dangerously close to a long-buried secret, I felt the book would be appreciated by female readers, who, after all, are the majority of readers — especially fiction. So the consultant and I targeted cable channels that deliver a high number of women viewers between the ages of 35-64.
            The video features my wife, Linda, as the retired English teacher, with a simple voice-over and atmospheric lighting. The cover of the book is prominently featured, as is the address of the website for the mystery series and the fact that the book is available on Amazon. Short of putting a link on the TV screen, I tried to make it as easy as possible for people who see the ad and are intrigued to buy the book.
            And so the story begins. It has been represented to me that enough people will see this TV spot in the two weeks it runs that if one percent of them buy the book, I’ll see a bump in sales, regardless of normal monthly variation. Regardless, I’ll have an answer. I eagerly await it.