by Gary Watts
Infinity author Laura L. Valenti nailed it when she said, “Marketing takes as much time, if not more sweat and energy, than writing the book in the first place.” I believe her. Most authors are not marketing pros, so generating awareness through media channels, reviews, print, broadcast interviews, book signings, and other traditional marketing techniques is grueling, to say the least.
If I had just one marketing arrow in my quiver to promote my book, it would be an impressive book trailer. The problem is, unless you are a big time author with a “fat cat” publishing house, you are mainly doomed to a low budget product featuring boring “slides and music,” which is less than desirable. Infinity’s recent offering to generously “run” your trailer on their formidable YouTube channel and blog gave authors a big opportunity to boost their book’s awareness. But again, with no trailer, or a weak one, the opportunity has little or no value. Another Infinity Author, Jay Adair, put it best…“Honestly, the trailers don’t do a thing for me, too much concentration on music, and too little verbiage floating aimlessly over static pictures.”
Here’s the first problem: we are all desensitized by TV commercials that cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. I know, because I used to produce them. They have become the standard to which our puny little book trailers are held. Secondly, we don’t have the money or resources to produce a first class trailer! It’s really a shame because the impact of social media is enormous, and if you don’t use it effectively, you are missing a huge audience.
Each day, 100 million people watch YouTube. Equally shocking, 350 million people log onto Facebook daily. These estimates don’t even count the millions upon millions that use Twitter (100 million) and hundreds of other social outlets. To make full use of these platforms and maximize marketing effectiveness, I suggest making a book trailer your one marketing “arrow,” based on its ability to create awareness and traction in book promotion.
When it came to my own marketing, that’s exactly what I did! Take a look at the book trailer I posted on YouTube.
I’ve also posted it on my website, Facebook, Google+, Twitter, Linkedin, Pintrest, Squidoo and all the social media outlets that I can find. Selling books sometimes just comes down to a numbers game; the more potential buyers you can reach, the more books you will sell, especially when you are just starting out and don’t have a big following. Social media serves as your sales agent, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. You are now showcasing your book globally to hundreds of millions of people. It sure beats a story in your local newspaper.
As an electronic media brat with a vast broadcast, marketing and promotions background, I immediately embraced this “slide show” trailer challenge for my book. I certainly don’t have lots of money to produce a Ben-Hur trailer, but I didn’t settle for a mundane, “slide” trailer either. There seems to be a big gap in the marketplace between an expensive, grand production trailer and the typical slide show trailers. For my project, I contacted a semi-retired business associate with a small production facility. We put our heads together and developed a solution that the industry would probably call a “formatted – donut” meaning its concept could be used to produce my book trailer as well as other author’s trailers all at a reasonable cost.
With this approach, much of the cost and time is absorbed by sticking to a pre-determined format. For instance, my non-fiction business marketing book required a customized opening which also served double duty in the closing. Next I choose to use an announcer who read a script throughout, to which we matched the video. Next we choose appropriate music; in my case jazz. This helped convey knowledge, experience and professionalism. Your book would no doubt require a custom opening too using content, tone and music to convey its very nature. In addition, music needs to be chosen carefully because of licensing rights. The formatted trailer also included an author photo (or author video), book cover, two positive reviews with accompanying photos and quotes. The next format focused on the content of the book, followed by the benefit the reader would receive if they purchased the book. We then moved to the closing with the announcer providing a positive summary of the book (using the opening video) followed by music only under video as to where to buy your book. This format helped us produce a clean, efficient, and engaging trailer from beginning to end. Long sessions in the production studio, high end voice over talent, additional charges for music, content, and special effects, will dramatically increase your costs because the more production studio time you use, the more money you will spend.
Hopefully I have illustrated how I produced my book trailer and kept my costs below a grand. Remember, your book information can be formatted and plugged into our pre-formatted platform or into one you develop. Don’t let the social media train leave the station without you—why spend hours in the local bookstore, selling only a few books, when there’s a better way? All aboard!!
Gary L. Watts works as a marketing consultant to a variety of clients. He has developed my award-winning marketing and communications expertise through local, regional and national marketing activities and has served in high-profile staff positions with or consulted for world-class companies, such as Walt Disney World, PBS Washington, Buena Vista Television, Hilton Hotels, and Kraft Foods. In early December 2012, he launched his first book: "100 Marketing Trade Secrets for any Business."