By Paula Margulies
In the May 29 Random House/Zogby poll, 46% of respondents indicated that they spent the same amount of time reading as they had in the past year. 23% are spending more time reading (a good thing), while 30% said they are reading less than usual.
It's this last group that we all need to think about. The trend these days, especially for the younger set, is that people are reading less than in previous years.
So, what are these 30% who read less doing instead? Nearly two-thirds of them (65%) told Zogby that they're spending more time online, while 37% spend more time watching television or movies and 18% claim to be devoting more time to computer and video games.
These data show why so many writers are now making book trailers (a term coined by Circle of Seven Productions CEO Sheila Clover) to promote their work. For those who haven't seen one yet, a book trailer is basically a one-to-three minute promotional video about the book. The majority of them are mini-documentaries that include voice-over, visual images, and some type of musical score. A few show actors acting out scenes from the book and some include author sound-bites or even (least recommended) authors reading their work. Most authors run these on their websites and social networking sites like YouTube, MySpace, and Facebook. And publishers run them, as well. In fact, according to a June 7 Wall Street Journal article, many publishers are now creating divisions dedicated to making book trailers for their authors.
With so many readers spending time on the Internet, it makes sense for authors to use the web as a promotional space for their work. Yet, many authors make the mistake of creating videos and plunking them down in their websites, assuming that just having them there will entice readers to buy their books. It's true, having a book trailer out there is important. But even more important is working it. Like your business card and press release, a video does no good unless someone sees it. That means you need to tell everyone you know, including the media, about it and invent creative ways to distribute it.
And that's where a good publicist comes in. Your publicist can announce your book trailer release to the media, send out copies to reviewers and book sellers (in the old days, we sent video news releases (VNR's) on VHS tapes; now we send links to your trailer), and use your video to market to distributors, bookstores, universities, and libraries. It's all in the pitch, of course, but having a good video (more on that in a future post) and a sharp publicity person working for you will help get your book the attention it deserves.
Paula Margulies is a book publicity and promotions expert in San Diego, California. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit her website at www.paulamargulies.com.