Book trailers are a fun visual component to any author's strategic marketing plan. Still gaining in popularity, book trailers give authors the opportunity to seduce today's techno-savvy audiences with photos, streaming video, music and more. It puts their sales message on YouTube (a great site to improve SEO) and gives them another opportunity to share their Web site and novel information. Book trailers are also attractive to gamers and others who may not read a lot, but are immediately attracted to visuals. Like all things on the Web, book trailers last forever, and that longevity can easily help build a brand – which ultimately leads to a driven fan base that buys your books.
Today, I am privileged to share my interview with Sheila Clover English, CEO of Circle of Seven Productions, a premiere force in the book trailer niche. Sheila shares valuable information about how book trailers can work for you, and what you need to know before you get started.
For those who don't know, what is a book trailer?
A book trailer is like a movie trailer, but for books. It is a visual synopsis of a book with a teaser ending.
Why are these effective?
People have evolved into visual creatures. It is the time of the digital age in entertainment. Videos are extremely popular and easy to share.
No. An author can make one using their own software that comes with their computer. You may need to pay for licensing music and photos, but you can make your own virtually free.
Here is a site that talks about making your own trailer- http://www.squidoo.com/booktrailers
To have one professionally made you can use the rule of thumb; you get what you pay for. Some videos start at $50 and some are upward of $10,000. The point is, there are a variety of videos to meet any budget. At COS our videos start at $300 and come with distribution.
Ballpark, what should authors expect to pay for a quality book trailer?
You can get a quality book video ranging from $300 – $2500.
What technology is needed?
To create your own book video most computers come with editing software. The PC has Movie Maker and a Mac has a similar editing program. You need to teach yourself how to use it and then create the script, gather the photos, footage and music. Don't forget to license them. Just because they say "royalty free" doesn't mean you can use them for anything. Read the fine print. You may need to give a credit, or may not be able to use them for commercial purposes.
What is the advantage to hiring a company, versus doing it yourself?
You can save money doing it yourself. You can save time having a professional do it.
Having a specialist create and distribute your video is more likely to make the video effective. A company will watch for trends, buy the latest editing technology and bargain for better video placement. More can be done by a team than by an individual.
Most trailer companies are online. How can authors know they are hiring a quality company that isn't going to go under in a few months?
Look at the company's history. Have they been around a long time? Who are their clients? Do they have testimonials?
If you're investing in a tool for your career you may want to research past clients and projects. Ask for a reference. Look for transparency. Do you know who runs the company? Who does the work? Can they prove they are experienced?
Don't be afraid to ask for credentials and references.
COS provides a client list and it is very easy to email any of those authors and ask them about their experience. There are articles about COS that are easy to find. And, COS is certified through the Better Business Bureau. You can see who works for the company.
Do production companies market the trailers for you? Do they create special key word tags that help prospective readers and fans find it in searches?
Many book video producers create book video and that's it. Some will use services like TubeMogul and upload them to popular sites, but that's it.
You should discuss measurable goals for your video before you hire someone to make your video. There should be some way to track the success of the video.
COS has a Distribution Department made up of several individuals. Those people create a strategy for each video's distribution. The video isn't just sent out to popular sites. Yes, they're on the sites like YouTube and MySpace, but they are also sent to reader sites and to genre specific sites. They are sent to libraries and to booksellers. Having a book video is half the work. You need to make that video effective by getting it to the right places and the right people.
Helping people find the video is part of the job of creating a book video. VSEO (video search engine optimization) is key. But it isn't just about tag words. It's about a combination of elements that, combined, give you the best placement on search engines. It starts with the creation of the video and ends with the delivery platform and public engagement with the video.
Where does a book trailer fit into a marketing plan?
It is a versatile element of a marketing plan. It may be your main feature, it may not be. A book video is not likely to sell a million books. But, neither is a $15,000 USA Today national ad.
Book video can be sent to social sites as an entertainment piece with a buy button included. It can be sent to the sales team, book signing, media outlets or even foreign publishers to sell rights.
Like any tool you need to have a clear goal in mind and know where that tool best fits in the overall plan.
Besides marketing on YouTube or other video networking channel, what are the best ways to promote your trailer?
Have it on your own site. Any social sites you have a profile with. Give it to your publisher so they can utilize it. Ask people to blog about the book and use the trailer, or to blog about the trailer and reference the book.
We book media so we have book trailers on television, in movie theaters and out-of-home-advertising platforms.
Do trailers mean more sales for writers?
There's an old saying in marketing- "50% of all marketing works. You just don't know which 50%." That is still true today.
There have been reports of authors seeing an increase in sales, but was that from the trailer or a print ad? How do you know?
Trailers are not really about direct sales. They are about branding, name awareness, building a following. Direct sales come out of that. But if someone is looking for instantaneous fame and fortune because they have a great trailer that is probably not going to happen. But, if they are looking for name recognition, looking to do cross-genre campaigns, then a book video may be the exact tool you need.
Can they really draw more traffic to their sites or Amazon pages?
Yes. There are many reports from authors about increased traffic to their site or to their Amazon product page. Of course you need an good video and an effective campaign to get them there.
Book videos are "hooks" that you throw out into the internet or public to bring them back to your website or to a specific destination. You can include a "buy" link, but the video is what will help draw them to that site.
What are the current trends for book trailers? Where are we now and where are we headed?
Current trends include keeping the video under 2 minutes long. Determining if your video will be a trailer or a commercial (they are different). Using book videos in blogs.
The future is keeping them fresh. A year or two ago they were a novelty and people would watch them just because there were there. That's not the case now. Now there are so many that you have to really have something special to get it to go viral. So, having a more creative and engaging video is what's in store for the future.
Is there a psychological element to using trailers? Do they help with branding your work?
Video can be an instant connection with someone. The mood of your video can say something about you or about your book.
They do help with branding your work and they are, in fact, a wonderful took for branding.
Is there a viral book trailer out there that made a big difference for an author?
I guess that depends on the definition of "big difference". We've had authors make bestseller lists that never made a list before they had a video with us.
We've had authors hit #1 on the NY Times that never hit that high before.
We've had authors who are self-published get their books picked up by libraries.
Yes, there are those experiences out there.
What are your top five tips to creating an effective book trailer?
- Determine what you want people to know about your book and include that in the trailer.
- Know what your goal is for the trailer.
- Create a measurable goal to check how effective the trailer was.
- Make the first 10 seconds of the video the most gripping or interesting
- Know your audience and get the trailer to places where you will find that audience.
Special thanks once again to Sheila Clover English, CEO of Circle of Seven Productions, for taking the time to interview for this site.
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