Archive for March, 2011

Book trailers don’t work as expected. Many authors are stumped by them. Here are four reasons why you should create them and why they do actually work.

Dwight K. Shrute from NBC's The Office. Played by Rainn Wilson.

The crucial difference between traditional marketing and marketing on the web is that everything on the web is equally available to everyone all the time. Unlike traditional media outlets like TV and Radio, there are no gatekeepers controlling the flow. There are no channel line ups and no show schedules.

In traditional media, advertisements are based on interruption marketing. They can be low-quality and still be effective because consumers can’t skip the advertisement to get to the content they want.

Not so on the web. It’s incredibly easy to navigate to the content you want. Therefore, there is no traditional marketing because it isn’t necessary (and can actually be a liability). Consumers can connect directly with the producers of the content that they want. This has several important consequences:

(1) The production value of a book trailer ought to be high. Low-quality might work on TV but it won’t work on the web. It’s still entirely possible that it will get lost in the shuffle of all that is new on the web. Humans are fickle and hard to predict, but they do generally flock to whatever is *new* or anything that does something *better* than the competition. So keep the production value high and show them something they’ve never seen before. (n.b. High *value* doesn’t necessarily mean expensive or high-quality. American teens regularly buy jeans with holes already in them. Why? Because it’s considered fashionable. The jeans makers now purposefully damage their product before shipping. It’s counter-intuitive, but it’s true. The web can be counter-intuitive like that too.)

(2) The primary purpose of your book trailer should not be to advertise your book. (!) If they’re watching it, they’re already interested. Remember, anyone can watch anything. They’ve chosen your book trailer. So, first and foremost, make it *entertaining* to keep them watching and increase the odds that they will share it with their friends (more on that next).

(3) Leverage the power of social media. Make it easy to find your book trailer and easy to share it. Use YouTube, Vimeo, and all the rest. Your first viewers will most likely be your fans who will probably be buying your book anyway. However, give them the tools and they will share it with their friends who might not be fans (yet). Making it easy also means you don’t pick just one outlet. You can upload your book trailer to them all and you should.

Thus, although you end up spending a lot of time creating something that will be viewed mostly by people already interested in it, you gain exposure for your product and your brand. Because…

(4) Things published on the web live on forever. Thus, it’s entirely possible to get continual exposure for the rest of your career. In other words, it’s a marathon, not a sprint. Book trailers work over the long run. So, by all means create them. Just don’t expect an immediate payoff.

Image Attribution: http://www.flickr.com/photos/danielle_scott/4022604355/

This post was written as a response to Nancy J. Cohen’s article on The Kill Zone, Making a Book Trailer. Watch Nancy’s book trailer for SILVER SERENADE on YouTube.

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Harold Crick (Will Ferrell) holding his life in his hands.

Stranger Than Fiction is a 2006 movie starring Will Ferrell, Dustin Hoffman, Queen Latifah, and a brilliant Emma Thompson. It has elements of comedy, romance, and fantasy all rolled into one. Here’s the synopsis from IMDB:

Everybody knows that your life is a story. But what if a story was your life? Harold Crick is your average IRS agent: monotonous, boring, and repetitive. But one day this all changes when Harold begins to hear an author inside his head narrating his life. The narrator it is extraordinarily accurate, and Harold recognizes the voice as an esteemed author he saw on TV. But when the narration reveals that he is going to die, Harold must find the author of the story, and ultimately his life, to convince her to change the ending of the story before it is too late. (Written by the lexster) (edits, mine)

It’s definitely worth a watch for any aspiring author. Just watch the trailer. Hope you enjoy it.

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