self Publishing Tips

Book Trailers – What Do You Think?

This post first appeared on my previous blog in August, 2013.   (Updated: May 18, 2016)

Bing Images: Monday Movie Madness @ North Channel 750 x 937 · jpeg · hcpl.net

Bing Images:
Monday Movie Madness @ North Channel
750 x 937 · jpeg · hcpl.net

As a writer of young adult fiction, I was interested in having a book trailer.  I have teen-aged children so I see daily how much they are on their computers – whether on social media sites or watching videos/listening to music from sites like YouTube.  I did the research – looking at the pros and cons of book trailers and found it to be inconclusive.  Some people raved about it – others not so much.   I realize that books aren’t movies but movie trailers entice me – offering tantalizing glimpses at the product being sold.  The same goes for deodorant or cleaning products.  We see the commercial and BAM! – we decide we need to buy the advertised product.   We are visual people and a book trailer is nothing more than a commercial meant to entice potential buyers.

I spent hours looking for production companies and realized that one of the companies I most liked was out of my price range.   My first choice was a company out of Atlanta, GA called Book Candy Studios.  Wow!  Their trailers are awesome!  But awesome comes with a price tag of about $1,000.00.  As a self published author, I don’t have access to a marketing department or unlimited funds.  I have to decide where I’m going to get the most bang for my buck. If I had an extra grand in my budget, I’d have chosen them.   Their link:  Book Candy Studios   UPDATE:  Book Candy Studios now offers trailer packages starting at $599.00.   For those authors interested in a more budget friendly option that still offers the excitement and feel of a cinematic trailer, the Book Candy Nibble is worth checking out.

My next choice was a company called Ghostwriter Extraordinaire. They offer packages that range from $99.00 to $199.00 which I thought was very reasonable.  In fact this was the company that I initially decided to use. You can check out their videos at:  Ghostwriter Extraordinaire

If your budget permits, Red 14 Films offers cinematic quality trailers and even if you can’t afford to purchase one, they are worth watching.

There were companies that offered videos at a cost somewhere between the above mentioned companies.  There were also companies that offered trailers for very nominal fees.

During my search, I found an article about making your own book trailer.  I wish I could remember the blog it was featured on, but try as I might, I can’t find it.  I have searched the web looking for the particular post with no luck.  The article suggested using Microsoft PowerPoint or Microsoft Movie Maker.  It also suggested using an online video maker like Animoto.

I decided to give it a try.  At the worst, I would have lost the time I spent trying to make the trailer.  At best, I’d be happy with the product and would have saved a little money.  I choose to use Animoto.  After playing around on their site, I decided to purchase one of their upgraded options.  I’m glad I did.   It took a little time to come up with my “script” because the video maker limits the number of characters on any given frame.  Then there were the pictures.  I knew how I wanted the video to “feel.”  Fortunately, my sister owns a great camera and was willing to help me get the photos I wanted.  If you’re not much of a photographer, you can find images at iStock or Shutterstock.  Animoto has a good selection of background music and I felt like the piece I selected helped set the tone for the video.

So this is the book trailer I created using Animoto’s video maker.  Take a look – it may be something you’d like to try:

Since making this book trailer, I have made three others.  I’m not at all convinced that they’ve helped with my sales but I have enjoyed creating them.

Post Updated: February 17, 2015.

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It’s All About Getting Noticed

book girlPublishing my first novel was one of the most important moments in my life.  It signified the fulfilment of a life-long dream.  I had climbed the mountain and reached the top.  Like many newly published writers, I was floating in a cloud of euphoria – convinced that everyone would love my story.   I’m sure you can understand my frustration when the hallowed halls that is Amazon barely registered an echo of my arrival.  At first, I visited my KDP dashboard daily – monitoring my sales.  In all honesty, there wasn’t many and most of those were probably from people in my local area – family, friends, etc.   When my dream of overnight success didn’t come true, I finally grasped the reality of my situation.  It didn’t matter how wonderful I thought my story was – I lacked name recognition.   My author platform was probably more akin to a board and a couple of nails.

Marketing Madness:  Yes.  I became infected.  I scoured various blogs looking for marketing advice.  I was the snake oil salesman’s dream.  If you offered me the cure for my lagging sales, I was buying!   I tried this.  I tried that.  I tried the other thing, too.  For all that effort, I did learn something:   As a newly published writer, I was picking my way through uncharted territory.  After trying various marketing tips, I realized that there is no “one size fits all” plan.

There were things I did that helped.  I went on tour (blog tours) as well as listing my book on some promotional sites.  Some worked better than others.  My e-book sales increased.  However, 70% of $2.99 isn’t all that much.  Multiply that by a few sales and my net profit still wasn’t anything to write home about.

While e-books are great, having a physical book to sell has its own benefits.  One of those being the ability to remove the middle man thereby increasing the profit margin.  Local festivals are a great venue for selling books.   I try to choose events that I feel are “book friendly.”  I consider the cost of the table – as in how many books I need to sell to break even.  I also consider the average number of people who will attend the festival.  Even if I don’t make a sale, being seen and getting my name out has its own value.   It’s like purchasing advertising.   Let’s say that an event draws 5,000 people and a space at that event goes for $100.00 – that breaks down to an advertising cost of 2¢ per person.

Not everyone is going to want a paperback.  Some people are dedicated to their reading device – that’s why I have business cards with a picture of my book, the ISBN, and a listing of where the e-book can be purchased.  Business cards are inexpensive to hand out – and while not everyone is going to follow through and purchase the e-book, it has been my experience that some will.

The holidays are approaching.  If you haven’t tried selling at an area festival, think about it.  I’ll admit to feeling a bit out of my comfort zone.  Ideally, I’d love to write and have someone else do the selling. However, that isn’t my reality.  For now, I’m a one woman publishing team!

 

 

Book Cover Deja Vu?

I recently downloaded a couple of YA novels.  Because they were located next to each other on my Kindle, they caught my attention. Is is just me or is there a resemblance?  While there are several differences, to my eye, the model appears to be the same.  Which got me thinking…  What’s the chance of other books having similar covers?

the faerie guardian             mindspeak

Seeing as how I didn’t know – I did a search and was surprised by what I found.  One of my favorite trilogies is the Home Series by Megan Nugen Isbell.  I liked her covers.  They were simple yet sweet and I thought they captured the mood of the stories.  It was the cover of Last Train Home that initially hooked my attention.

last train

 

 

love and other

But as I looked at the cover of Love and Other Unknown Variables, I realized that certain images must resonate with us.  What else can explain the fact that out of the thousands of stock images available cover designers are choosing some of the same ones.

Of Dreams and Shadow, book cover With my first novel, Of Dreams and Shadow, I hired a graphic artist to design a custom cover.  Dreams is a young  adult paranormal novel.  I thought the artist did a wonderful job capturing the feel of the book with all the shadowy  swirling action.  That being said, I don’t think the cover says Young Adult and I can’t help but wonder whether a different cover would draw more readers.

My second story, The Reasons Why, is a new adult novella.  I decided I wanted to use a different cover designer.  I  wanted a cover that said new adult/contemporary romance.  After searching the internet, I found exactly what I  was looking for – a cover that hinted at the longing my characters  felt.  Perfect!!

reasonswhy_500x750

But apparently, I’m not the only author who was drawn to the image:

 

12a_sing-me-to-sleep                       12b_for-petes-sake

Was I surprised?  Absolutely.  Was I upset with my designer?  Absolutely not.   Like me, and obviously the other designers, she connected with the image.  She purchased that image and designed a cover that I ultimately bought.  And even though there are other book covers out there that share the same image as mine, I can’t imagine any other image capturing my story the way those two hands do.

Below you will find the links to two different websites.  Indie Book Launcher takes a decidedly custom cover position while Creativindie sides with the stock image folks.  As a writer, you will have to decide which option suits your needs.

http://www.indiebooklauncher.com/resources-diy/the-dangers-of-stock-photos-on-book-covers.php

http://www.creativindie.com/is-your-book-cover-designer-lazy-and-unethical-stock-photography-and-cover-clonescliches-again