Book Commercials

Is it me or have there been a lot of book commercials on TV lately?  I like Karen Marie Moning, but if I saw her Faefevercommercial one more time, I’d puke my guts out and send the contents to her publicist.  Five times in one hours–yes, I counted them–is more than enough.  Now, I’m seeing Kelley Armstrong, Sherrilyn Kenyon, and someone else whose name escapes me at the moment.  I think those twenty second commericials are $20,000 a pop and that’s conservative guessing on my part. 

While I think it’s a great idea, the timing for these things couldn’t be any worse.  Given that we’re in a recession, I have the feeling book buying isn’t a high priority on anyone’s list right now.  😦  Boy, I hope I’m wrong about that.


22 thoughts on “Book Commercials

  1. Very true. It doesn’t seem like very smart marketing to me. It smells like desperation. Like, EVEN to move a big name they think they have to have television commercials.

    Which lets you know how out of touch they are, since most people don’t watch commericals and when they do, they tend to RESENT them.

    So TV commercials IMO is not a way to endear someone to your cause.

  2. I was wondering the same thing–

    As I write this, there goes Kelley’s commercial again for the forth time.

    –It does smell of desperation, though not on the part of the authors. Now is so not the time to be up in someone’s face about buying a book. I don’t know who came up with this idea in the marketing department, but they should’ve at least waited until the ink dried on the $700 billion bail-out plan. People are stocking up on Campbell’s Soup. Not books.

  3. I haven’t seen any commercials pushing books, and now that I’ve said it, I’ll probably see five thousand of them tonight.

    I’m with Zoe. Desperation. But wouldn’t you think in desperate times the measure to take is NOT to spend money?

  4. HAHAHA no kidding about stocking up on Campbell’s soup. The only thing on the stock market that hasn’t been dropping.

    There are no words to express how pissed off that the irresponsibility of a few could cause an economic meltdown for the rest of us.

  5. Hey Kath, one would think! But some people the only thing they know to do is to “throw money ” at it. One wonders what business school they attended (since those in big business often enjoy flaunting their MBA.)

    Don’t they know that if times are rough financially throwing MORE money at something is an even worse idea? It’s just a bigger gamble, making the time it takes to turn a profit take even longer and become even less likely if your gamble doesn’t pay off. And most advertising is a gamble. People don’t like it.

  6. If and when I ever have something published, I’m pretty sure the last place I’ll pimp myself is on TV. I know it’s important to promote and all that, but who has that kind of money? It must be that the big house publishers, rather than keep their mid-list authors under contract, would rather cut them and spend on those authors who are household words. That just makes no sense to me.

  7. I haven’t seen any commercials for writers. The only ones I can remember seeing lately are for James Patterson and Dean Koontz. Although Koontz’s might have been radio.

  8. Exactly, Kath. Someone is desperate here. I have a feeling it’s the publisher who’s doing the pushing because they know they’re a liability to most wallets during these hard times. My book buying has certainly trailed off.

  9. That’s what I don’t get, Zoe. If I had twenty grand, do you think I would be spending it on a commercial? I don’t care of the thing is broadcast nationwide or not, I can’t see how they think they’re going to get their money back during these hard times. It makes no sense. They would’ve been better off using that money as an advance for four new writers.

    If the authors are responsible for the ads, then it’s nice to know someone has money to burn during the recession. Too bad they’ll have to get their $22.95 elsewhere. That’s gas for my car.

  10. I think it’s the publishers more than anyone, Kath. After all, they have more money than the authors do. That’s fine and all, but too bad they don’t know this is NOT the time to be throwing money away when their customers don’t have money to spend.

  11. Now that you mention it, Edie, I think that third commercial was Koontz. Perhaps I kept seeing these commercials has to do with my watching the Sci-Fi channel at the time. That would make sense why they’d have these writers there. Also, I’ve seen Kelley Armstrong’s commericial about six times while watching Charmed. Once would’ve been enough for me. After the sixth time, I changed the channel.

  12. In light of all this it affects how I’m approaching some things definitely. I’ll have a print version available but I’m definitely going to price my Kindle edition much lower than the $9.99 that most publishers are doing for fiction.

    That just isn’t going to fly for an electronic format. I’m thinking maybe $4.99 for a full novel.

    Question: After seeing the Kelley Armstrong commercial 6 times, does it make you more or less likely to buy that book?

  13. You know, that brings up another point. Why AREN’T publishers slashing prices? If they lowered their prices a bit, I might be inclined to by more books. But as it stands right now, my book buying is in a recession and has been in one for the last month or so. They would’ve been better off keeping that twenty grand and slashing their paperback books by a buck or two.

    You’re smart to price your book lower. Right now, if were to buy a book, it had better be in electronic format because I’m not putting $7.99 in it.

    As for Kelley Armstrong’s book, don’t get me wrong. I’m HUGE fan. HUGE!! However, I knew I wasn’t buying the book even when I saw the commerical the first time because it was for the hardcover. I don’t buy hardcover books. For $22.95, they have the same information in them as the $7.99 paperback. So all the commercial did by the sixth time was piss me off enough to be happy that I decided to wait for the paperback to come out. That’s assuming my book-buying recession is over.

  14. Well print books would be VERY hard to slash prices and make a profit. The profit margin for most publishers is very very low already. Because you have to figure in all the front end work, like the advance that gets paid, cover design, interior layout, paying people in house like editors and such, print runs. Then they have to deal with shipping and warehousing and distribution. Stuff that gets sold into distribution tends to come with a very high discount. So at the back end most publishers make very little on each print book they sell. Slashing print prices would make things even crazier.

    Really what eats into things is distributors. If there was a better way for publishers to sell direct they could make a much higher profit and could probably cut prices. But there is no real reason they can’t cut ebook/kindle prices, unless they’re using those sales to try to help recoup losses from the print version.

    I’m not sure exactly what purpose hardcovers serve lately except as special editions. The only reason I think they sell at all is because people don’t want to wait ANOTHER year for the paperback release. It’s like literary extortion.

  15. I’ve only seen a book commercial once, and it was for Nora Roberts about two years ago. What channels are you all watching?

    My take on book commercials is the same for all these book trailers wandering around the internet: a book is a completely different medium than TV/Movies. A trailer or commercial touting how great a book is will rarely convince someone to buy a book because the writing is what attracts a reader, not a bunch of images that they’ll never bring to the book (based on readers’ differing opinions about what characters look like).

    It just seems like a bad move on the publisher’s part; if people are putting books on the back-burner because of the election and Wall Street, put more authors on talk shows! An author talking about their book and showing how passionate they are about their writing is more convincing than some trailer/commercial.

  16. The only reason I think they sell at all is because people don’t want to wait ANOTHER year for the paperback release. It’s like literary extortion.

    😆 I so agree. I, for one, can wait a year to save a couple of bucks and would rather use that $22.95 to by three paperback books.

    Like you said, Zoe, it’s a huge tangled mess to make that happen. Still, it wouldn’t hurt to try. If the publishers aren’t making money, then neither are the distributors, cover artists, the editors, etc. Everyone has to be on board with the price cut, which is where the pain begins. Nobody will budge, I’m sure.

  17. EXCELLENT idea, Evangeline! I’d rather see an author on a talk show than the a bunch of images plastered together. And yes, a twenty grand commericial is no different than a $150 book trailer. The only thing you’re paying for is the media access. Anyone who has a computer can see the same thing they show on TV. Will it convince me to buy a book any sooner? No. While I like the look and feel of book trailers, none of them have ever convinced me to pick up a book. Perhaps it works for some people, which is fine. However, people are watching their wallets too close these days to care about a commercial.

  18. People say POD isn’t economically viable because of economies of scale but CORRECTION it’s not economically viable if you try to make it the exact same business model. It’s a wildly different business model, depends on more outsourcing, but there is no shipping/warehousing. You also can’t publish 500 page tomes and make a profit.

    Unless the cost of producing books using POD technology went way down, if more publishers embraced it, we’ll have shorter books.

    I know my page count goal is around 288 pages now. Though I can’t decide between two different trim sizes. 6×9 for trade paperback is slightly larger than say the trade paperbacks being put out by Kensington, but…you can fit more words on a page and the price point for printing is the same with LSI. But the other format, 5.5 x 8 just looks better, lol. It’s going to depend on how long the final product is. I’d go to 6×9 if I had to to get more words into fewer pages. (Sorry I digressed there.)

    I read a very fascinating cost breakdown of printing offset vs. printing POD, and up to almost the 1000 copy print run mark, you make a larger profit with POD technology than with an offset print run. And you only make more on offset if every one of those copies actually sells through.

  19. Funny you should mention that, Zoe. I almost mentioned POD in one of my earlier responses, but I can’t remember why I didn’t want to bring it up.

    I think POD is a lot like e-publishing. It’ll take time for it to grow on people. So far, e-publishing has a leg up because NY is finally buying into it.Personally, I don’t have a problem with POD at all as long as the book is a great read.

    I think one of the main reasons why publishers don’t embrace it has to do with the book not being readily available to the buyer. If it’s not on the shelf, then they lose that sale. Newsflash: booksellers don’t necessarily put those traditionally published books out on the shelves anyway. Therefore, they’re only readily available if the reader asks the bookseller if they have Author A’s book in the store. Go figure.

  20. What I find so goofy about attitudes toward POD is that aside from publishers themselves (who are already largely using it for their backlist), is that the average customer doesn’t have to have POD grow on them. Most people have a POD book on their shelf right now and they have no clue. Lightning Source produces such a quality product, that if you have it together on the editorial, layout, and cover design front, there is no one who can pick up a POD trade paperback and an offset trade paperback and tell the difference unless they are so deep in the industry they know what to look for.

    My grandfather, for example would have been able to tell, but he owned a printing company. Of course he’s going to know the difference between offset and digital printing. Sally Sue bookbuyer? Not a chance. Sally Sue bookbuyer can’t even distinguish the specific paperweight used.

    I think the biggest resistance to POD comes on the bookseller front, because for the most part, you want to offer a lower discount to bookstores through ingram with POD. LSI allows a shorter discount like this, but bookstores don’t like it. Though it’s untrue that POD books can’t be returned. If the publisher accepts returns they accept them and it has nothing to do with the printing technology used to make the book.

    But a lesser discount makes it less attractive for a bookseller to order a book cause of the smaller profit margin for them, so they aren’t as likely to stock a book, but may order if someone walks into a store and requests.

    I personally don’t believe that bookstores are the best place to sell books anyway for anyone who isn’t a major trade publisher. And even then it’s iffy because of the economics and returns policies of bookstores.

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