Testing Book Trailers
by Dawn Carrington
By now, we all know that book trailers, book peeks, or whatever you want to call video teasers about a book are supposed to act much like movie trailers. The idea is that they help people decide what they want to read, spark their interest in a particular book, make them look forward to its release, and entice them to buy it.
But do book trailers work? And is there a way to quantify your return on your investment if you spend money on making these snazzy videos?
Because I’m always on the lookout for low-cost marketing avenues—and especially eager to find them in today’s economy—I’ve tried using videos. Also, I’ve done a fair amount of research about them, and I can tell you four things that may help you decide whether to try using them too:
• Our authors really enjoy using the videos, and most of them say that have gotten
positive results with them, especially the catchy videos that aren’t just blatant “buy
my book” pitches.
• Some publishers swear by them, and others say they’re not effective.
• Some readers love them; others hate them.
• You can do a quick test-run to determine whether or not videos are likely to be a
viable marketing tool for you.
In this test run, you’re going to hire someone to help you create a book video that you’re going to use for your newest book, and you’re going to utilize this video creatively.
Before you get started, here’s one thing you must know: If you want your book video to enhance your sales, it has to be a high-quality, streamlined video. It can be cute, funny, whimsical, serious, dark, or whatever tone you choose, but you cannot skimp on quality and still attract readers.
Does this mean you’re going to have to spend a lot of money? Not necessarily, especially since you’re going to start by testing the likely impact of videos on your sales.
The Building Blocks
Many amateur video editors are starting to create book videos, and they may offer attractive prices. But do some research before you hire anybody. Spend time on YouTube watching videos. Pick your favorites and write down the names of the people who created them.
Next, create an outline for your video. Yes, you could leave this to the editor, but it’s your book, and you know more about it than anyone else. So think about what would be the best selling tools. What makes you decide to buy a book? How can that be incorporated into the video? Do you want to use dialogue from the book, other short bits of text, or snippets from the synopsis?
Along with the outline, you’ll need a hook and a tagline. Come up with a few and write them down. You should have them before you start looking for images, because the images you choose must work with your copy lines.
Now, what about music? What is the tone of your book? Head on over to incompetech.com; listen to some of Kevin MacLeod’s royalty-free tunes, and pick one that reflects that tone. (Remember, this is a test run, so you want to keep the costs low.)
Once you’ve chosen your music, it’s time to choose your images. I advise against just using the book cover unless the copy that’s part of it is really magnetic. Instead, I suggest simply Googling royalty free images. A host of sites will appear, and some of them should have video clips that will work for you as well.
Look for images that match your book’s characters and the copy you’ve drafted for the video. Please be careful not to have two different women depicting one character—or any other noticeable errors. Viewers do notice those things.
Okay, now that you have everything, put it all into one zip file and start getting price quotes from the video editors you identified earlier. If the ones on your list are too expensive, use your favorite search engine to find other good prospects.
The range of costs for a book video is vast—from $25 to $6,000, depending on the bells and whistles you want included, and whether you use real models/actors and/or real voiceovers. For this test run, you’re better off keeping it simple.
Tell each editor about the materials you’ve put together, and see if the work you’ve done will lessen the price they quote. Also mention that this is your first video.
Questions to ask prospective editors are:
• What’s your general idea for the video?
• Will I be able to see the video at various stages of completion?
• Can the video be spliced or edited so that certain sections can be used
in other videos?
• How many changes will be allowed?
• Will the video be my property to use as I please?
• Does your identifying information (“created by . . . ”) need to be in the video
at all times?
• What happens if I don’t like the completed project even after changes?
When an editor has answered all your questions satisfactorily, make sure the agreement you’ve come to is in writing (getting help on the contract from an intellectual property lawyer is a good idea if you’re paying a high price). Then sit back and await the results.
And Now for Some Buzz
Once your video has been created to your satisfaction, you’re ready to start your one-month test run. There are two parts to this process. The first is generating buzz (see below). The second is generating sales from the buzz (stay tuned).
Before you start buzzing your video, check your Web site stats and/or your blog stats. You want to note how many hits you’ve already received in the current week and month, because this information is going to come in handy.
Prepare to upload your video by creating tags to help people find it in the sea of other book videos, using the same techniques you use to tag other online content. This is a shot for people to pick your book video amid thousands, so you have to make yours easy to find. The title and the author’s name aren’t enough, of course. Use tags to highlight anything and everything associated with the book, including the genre, the story line, author information, publisher information, and where the book is available for sale.
Now, upload your video to YouTube (you’ll need an account, which is free), to Facebook (I’m sure by now you have a Fan page, right?), to your site and your blog, and to at least two other video sites, such as Vimeo and Daily Motion.
You’ll also want to post the video to places you frequent, including My Space.
Write down where and when you posted the video.
When you’ve uploaded the video, prepare an announcement that will entice readers/viewers to take a look. “Come take a look” won’t do it. Give people a reason to view the video, and post the reason on Twitter, Facebook, your blog, and other places across the Web to which you normally post. A word of caution: If you don’t ordinarily post to a group, don’t join just to make your announcement. You’ll only create ill will.
You don’t want this to be a “Buy my book” promo. You want to get people interested in the book and the author. That’s what is going to help create a buzz. So encourage readers to comment on your video; feedback is important. Ask your readers to tell you what was good and what was bad about the video. You want honesty, and believe me, you’ll get it. Keep the comments so you can use them to improve future videos and other marketing campaigns.
Set up a poll or survey at Facebook or your blog with the main question being: Would this video entice you to buy this book? You might want to add one or two more questions, but don’t make it long. Also consider holding a quick contest to draw more attention.
Check your stats on your Web site and blog pages weekly to see if you are receiving more hits/visits.
Continually check the places you’ve uploaded your video and respond to comments.
Update Facebook and Twitter with comments you get on the video. Keep it simple, with something like: “My video for [book title] is getting great feedback!” And provide a link to the video.
Talk with people who post comments. It’s important to acknowledge their thoughts.
At the end of the month, calculate the increase in Web stats or traffic to other sites you frequent. How successful was the buzz?
If the buzz was disappointing, review the comments to see whether doing some things differently might help. And take the time to ask follow-up questions. If the buzz was really good, the next question is: How can I convert traffic into sales?—which I will cover next month.
Dawn Carrington is editor-in-chief at Vintage Romance Publishing. To learn more, visit vrpublishing.com or find her at facebook.com/vintage2004.