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Market Your Book with a Movie Trailer
As multimedia comes to dominate the World Wide Web, a simple stream of text may not be enough to capture the attention of a potential reader. And while actually running an ad in a movie theater is very expensive, even a low-budget “movie trailer” on your website can dramatically increase your sales.
My first encounter with movie trailers for print books – rather than movies made from books – was John Warner’s VidLit like your muse. VidLit produces short Flash animations (usually less than 3 minutes) that it displays on its website and allows you to e-mail to others. A VidLit may be an excerpt from a book, or a synopsis. In general, they are smart, funny, and remind me of more sophisticated animated greeting cards. The VidLit team does a nice job of making non-fiction books look entertaining as well as stimulating. A typical VidLit takes about 200 hours to produce and costs around $10,000, but the one-minute special only costs $3500.
Writer Jeff Rivera didn’t want to spend that much, so he did some research on what his target market watched, listened to and talked about, then wrote a half-page script and posted an ad on Craigslist for a Flash animator and more. Advertise on Latino bulletin boards to find a suitable soundtrack. You can see the resulting trailer, which increased his book sales by 30%, on the Jeff Rivera Media Personality website under “Books.” (For more details, see Jeff’s article in this week’s John Kramer book marketing newsletter.)
upping the ante
The Book Standard enlisted Bantam Dell to sponsor the 2006 Book Video Awards competition for film students. The winning entries feature live actors and could be mistaken for Hollywood movie trailers. Each of them cost the publisher about 30% of the book’s marketing budget for production. The videos are available on Billboard.com, Bebo.com and YouTube as well as the Bantam Dell and Book Standard websites. There are even versions available for mobile phones.
Expanded Books makes its trailers available in audio and video format through iTunes, MySpace, Google Video, YouTube, iFilm and its website. Their suggestions for using book videos include in-store loops and pre-release DVDs, as well as viral video and old TV commercials. Their prices start at a relatively modest $3,000. Their titles range from nonfiction like 101 must see movies for gay men For novels like MJ Rose’s Venus correction.
Beware of the lowest bidder
If you have a webcam, you can create unlimited 3-minute DIY videos for $2.95 per month with Camdeo, a Berkeley-based video service. But while talking head infomercials can help you sell products, they don’t have the emotional power of something with a soundtrack, interesting visuals and a tight script. Camdeo sounds like a good option for beginner podcasters or people who want to communicate with their relatives, but not really a good method for producing something that can be described as a “trailer”.
doing it yourself
If the likes of VidLit and Expand Books are out of your reach, you’re better off spending a few hundred dollars (or less—Apple’s iLife is only $79 and the Producer plug-in for creating Windows Media Video is free for licensed PowerPoint owners) in software to let you Convert PowerPoint or Keynote to video and add a soundtrack. You can insert images of your book cover, graphs and charts from your book, and emotive royalty-free images and artwork, interspersed with short, punchy copy a la Jeff Rivera. The rise of podcasts means there are thousands of “pod-safe” songs to choose from for a soundtrack. Closed with appropriate credits and order details.
Global market, buy local
Finally, if the DIY route sounds like too much work and you were hoping to keep your spending in the hundreds, not the thousands, see what kind of talent is available in your hometown. Does your local community college teach courses in Flash animation or video? Are you in a position to offer non-cash prizes that film students will appreciate, and run your own contest? While quality work isn’t cheap anywhere, you may still be able to get a bargain if you can provide something the video producer values like exposure to a new market.
However, it’s worth remembering that specialists like VidLit and Expand Books have the experience that cheaper competitors lack. Anyone with the right technical skills can create a dramatic trailer for a dramatic book. Authors whose subject matter is considered dry or difficult to understand should go to specialists if they want results that appeal to the mass market.
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