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postheadericon Literarily Speaking October 2011 Book Panel: “Book Trailers: A Great Promotional Tool or Not?”

The Literarily Speaking Book Panel talks to authors on different subjects regarding books, book industry topics, book selling, book promotions, and whatever catches our fancy. Today’s topic is book trailers.  I love book trailers.  I feel they are a great promotional tool but it often depends on how professional they are.  Do trailers sell books?  I believe just like any other promotional tool, they enhance a book campaign, but does it actually result in sales?  We’ll never know why someone buys our book unless the person tells us.  We asked our panel today to talk about their experiences with book trailers – do they feel the trailers enhanced their book campaign and whether they know first hand that it actually did sell their book?

Our Distinguished Panel of Authors:

DavisDavis Aujourd’hui is the author of the Sister Mary Olga Fortitude series of hilarious satires. The first book is entitled “The Misadventures of Sister Mary Olga Fortitude.” It was followed by “Babes in Bucksnort.”  Davis possesses a rich life experience that has enabled him to draw from it in order to create a colorful canvas upon which to paint very human lives. He is a retired social worker, having worked for Adult Protective Services in New York State for nearly twenty years. He developed the characters within his series of books in order to entertain a colleague by using the gift of humor. As will be the case with Sister Mary Olga in his third book, he is a recovering alcoholic. He also happens to be gay as are several of the endearing and humorous characters within his novels. He can speak from his own experience. He has possessed all of the foibles of his cast of characters who are naughty, nasty, and nice.  Davis lives in Upstate New York where he is currently sharing his life with his partner of seven years. He is socially-minded and spirituality is the most important ingredient in order for him to maintain a happy and successful life. Visit this blog for information on the series: http://bestsatireseriesofthedecade.blogspot.com.  Visit this blog for information on the author: http://authordavisaujourdhui.blogspot.com.  Connect with him on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Davis-Aujourdhui/138584429540046.

Sharon BiallySharon Bially lived for twelve years in Paris and Aix-en-Provence before settling with her family in Massachusetts.  A graduate of Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs, she’s a public relations professional and leads seminars for the Boston-based, nonprofit literary arts center, Grub Street Writers.  She’s also an adult student of ballet and modern dance. Her latest book is the contemporary women’s fiction novel, Veronica’s Nap. You can visit Sharon’s website and blog at www.veronicas-nap.com. Visit her at Twitter at www.twitter.com/@sharonbially and Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sharon.bially AND http://www.facebook.com/pages/Veronicas-Nap/240292619323500.

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Mary Carter 5MARY CARTER is a freelance writer and novelist.  The Pub Across the Pond is her fifth novel with Kensington. Her other works include:  My Sister’s Voice, Sunnyside Blues, She’ll Take It, and Accidentally Engaged.  In addition to her novels she has written two novellas: A Very Maui Christmas in the best selling anthology Holiday Magic, and The Honeymoon House in the best selling anthology Almost Home. She is currently working on a new novel for Kensington. Readers are welcome to visit her at www.marycarterbooks.com.

Visit her at Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Mary-Carter-Books/248226365259.

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Lilian DuvallLilian Duval lives with her husband George, a native of Singapore, in a small house in New Jersey overlooking a large county park. They have two sons and a daughter, all independent and ambitious, and several cats. She’s an amateur classical guitarist and enjoys attending concerts and plays in New York City. But writing has always been her calling. In her own words, “The most enjoyable activity I can imagine is to invent some characters, make them a little larger than life, set them bickering and thrashing against each other and their fates, and enact a fictional resolution that makes more sense than the chaos and unpredictability of our complicated lives.” Lilian’s latest book is You Never Know: Tales of Tobias, an Accidental Lottery Winner. You can visit Lilian’s website at www.lilianduval.com. Connect with her on Twitter at @lilianduval and Facebook at Lilian Duval.

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Patty FriedmannPatty Friedmann’s two latest books are a YA novel called Taken Away [TSP 2010] and a literary e-novel titled Too Jewish [booksBnimble 2010]. She also is the author of six darkly comic literary novels set in New Orleans: The Exact Image of Mother [Viking Penguin 1991]; Eleanor Rushing [1998], Odds [2000], Secondhand Smoke [2002], Side Effects [2006], and A Little Bit Ruined [2007] [all hardback and paperback from Counterpoint except paper edition of Secondhand Smoke from Berkley Penguin]; as well as the humor book Too Smart to Be Rich [New Chapter Press 1988]. Her novels have been chosen as Discover Great New Writers, Original Voices, and Book Sense 76 selections, and her humor book was syndicated by the New York Times. She has published reviews, essays, and short stories in Publishers Weekly, Newsweek, Oxford American, Speakeasy, Horn Gallery, Short Story, LA LIT, Brightleaf, New Orleans Review, and The Times-Picayune and in anthologies The Great New American Writers Cookbook, Above Ground, Christmas Stories from Louisiana, My New Orleans, New Orleans Noir, and Life in the Wake. Her stage pieces have been part of Native Tongues. In a special 2009 edition, Oxford American listed Secondhand Smoke with 29 titles that included Gone with the Wind, Deliverance, and A Lesson Before Dying as the greatest Underrated Southern Books. With slight interruptions for education and natural disasters, she always has lived in New Orleans. You can visit her website at www.pattyfriedmann.com.

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Candace HallWho would have thought a California girl would grow up to love the magic of a snowy Christmas and the mysteries of the North Pole. The scent of pine needles fills the air as the sleepy eyes of six small children begin to open. Then it begins “The Great Race.” Who will get to the presents first? The sounds of wrapping paper tearing, children laughing, and toys strewn everywhere. This was Christmas Day for Candace Hall’s family in Los Angeles, California. There were no snowflakes and Santa led a parade down Hollywood Blvd. As time passed and growing up continued, sunny California was left behind, Texas became home and there was snow at Christmas. There were no empty hours in a day to begin writing, even though Candace’s pen had touched a page or two, no real stories began to unfold until her health forced me to retire. It was then that real life experiences and her love of Christmas and a special black kitten turned into “A Christmas Secret.” Writing has now become Candace’s passion and with the help of the good Lord there will be more stories and adventures to be shared. Candace’s latest book is a delightful holiday children’s book called A Christmas Secret. You can visit her website at www.candacehallbooks.com.  You can also connect with Candace on Twitter at www.twitter.com/HallCandace.

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Chen LizraChen Lizra started traveling to Cuba in 2005 in order to train with the island’s best professional dancers. Each year she finds more excuses to visit Cuba, discovering the culture from within and hanging out with her close friends. Chen grew up in Israel and later moved to Canada. She holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration with a major in marketing, which allowed her to turn her passion — Cuban dance and music — into an inspiring lifestyle for others through her company, Latidos Productions®. Chen was selected as the Student Entrepreneur Champion for British Columbia in 2008. The following year, she was nominated as one of the “Women of Distinction in Vancouver,” and in 2010, she was named “Woman of the Month” by Modern Working Woman Magazine. In addition, the Australian government has honoured Chen with a distinguished talent permanent visa. She’s also been featured in numerous newspaper articles and TV shows. Her latest book is My Seductive Cuba – A Unique Travel Guide. Visit her website at www.myseductivecuba.com.  Connect with her via her blog www.chenlizra.com, at Twitter at www.twitter.com/#!/MySeductiveCuba, www.twitter.com/#!/ChenLizra and Facebook at www.facebook.com/MySeductiveCuba.

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Mary Ann LoeschMary Ann Loesch is an award-winning author living in the Austin Area. Teacher by day, writer by night, Ms. Loesch has an extensive background in Theatre Arts and education. In 2009 her novel, Nephilim, won the Writers League of Texas Manuscript contest in the category of Science Fiction/Fantasy. Having published short stories in SNM Horror Magazine, A Side of Grits, and Red Fez, she is also a proud contributor to the blogs All Things Writing and Loesch’s Muse, both guides for beginning writers. Lyrical Press, Inc. published her urban fantasy, Nephilim, July 2011. You can visit her website at www.maryannloesch.com or her blog at http://www.loeschsmuse.blogspot.com.

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Kathi MaciasKathi Macias is a multi-award winning writer who has authored more than 30 books and ghostwritten several others. A former newspaper columnist and string reporter, Kathi has taught creative and business writing in various venues and has been a guest on many radio and television programs. Kathi is a popular speaker at churches, women’s clubs and retreats, and writers’ conferences, and won the 2008 Member of the Year award from AWSA (Advanced Writers and Speakers Association). Kathi “Easy Writer” Macias lives in Homeland, CA, with her husband, Al, where the two of them spend their free time buzzing around in their new ride: Al’s 2005 sunburst orange Corvette. You can find out more about Kathi’s writing and speaking at www.kathimacias.com.

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Cheryl MalandrinosCheryl Malandrinos is a freelance writer, children’s author and editor. Her first children’s book, Little Shepherd, was released in August 2010 by Guardian Angel Publishing. She is also a member of the SCBWI. Cheryl is a Tour Coordinator for Pump Up Your Book, a book reviewer, and blogger. Ms. Malandrinos lives in Western Massachusetts with her husband and two children. She also has a son who is married. Visit Cheryl at her newly redesigned website http://ccmalandrinos.com/ or visit the Little Shepherd book blog at http://littleshepherdchildrensbook.blogspot.com/.

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Marilyn MeredithMarilyn Meredith is the author of over thirty published novels, many award-winning, including the Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery series. Her latest is Bears With Us. Writing as F. M. Meredith, her latest Rocky Bluff P.D. crime novel is Angel Lost, the third from Oak Tree Press. Marilyn is a member of EPIC, Four chapters of Sisters in Crime, including the Central Coast chapter, Mystery Writers of America, and on the board of the Public Safety Writers of America. She’s also a been an instructor at many writing conferences including the Maui Writers Retreat, Central Coast Writing Conference and many others. Visit Marilyn online at http://fictionforyou.com and her blog at http://marilynmeredith.blogspot.com.

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Greg Messel 3Greg Messel has written three novels and three unpublished memoirs. He published his premiere novel “Sunbreaks” in 2009, followed by “Expiation” in 2010 and “The Illusion of Certainty” in 2011. Greg has had a newspaper career as a columnist, sportswriter and news editor. He won a Wyoming Press Association Award as a columnist. Greg also spent many years in the corporate world as a Financial Manager. He now devotes his energies to writing at his home in Edmonds, Washington on the Puget Sound just north of Seattle, where he lives with his wife, Carol. You can visit his website at www.gregmessel.com.  Connect with Greg on Twitter at www.twitter.com/gregmessel or Facebook at www.facebook.com/greg.messel.

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October 2011 Book Panel Book Trailer Discussions:

Davis Aujourd’hui: “I love book trailers. I’ve also had an excellent and very funny one done on my book, The Misadventures of Sister Mary Olga Fortitude. It aptly provides a delicious flavor of what the book will taste like. Unfortunately, my experience has been that it has not made any definitive impact on my book sales. Therefore, I am not convinced that book trailers enhance books sales. This only reflects my own experience.”

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Sharon Bially: Book trailer? No, thanks.  Don’t watch them, don’t have one, don’t want one.  Which is kind of counter-intuitive since I’m a publicist and know that they can be powerful marketing tools.  And I’d never advise a client to flat-out reject the idea. My reasons boil down simply to personal preference.  First, I don’t watch TV, ever.  Nor do I click on videos when sitting at my computer : I just don’t have the bandwidth to switch to “passive observer” mode for short periods of time.   And even though I do love to catch a good movie, overall I’d much rather read. Second, as a reader and a writer I admit I find it sad that our culture has become so hooked on sound bites and visuals that video has become associated with reading in the first place.  A trailer for a movie makes perfect sense: it’s a snippet of what that movie is.  But books aren’t movies, and I wish the line between them weren’t becoming so painfully thin. People do like watching book trailers though, and they can be a good way to get your book’s title to stick. Like any other single element of a promotion strategy, though, the familiarity it creates with your product doesn’t necessarily lead to an increase in sales.  In the end, the choice comes down to personal preference.  If you love trailers and love the idea of having one for your book, that’ll come through in your trailer.  It will then be more engaging and effective.  On the other hand, if you’re like me I’d say it’s not worth the time or effort: that would be like writing a story that isn’t coming from the heart.”

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Mary Carter: “My first novel to have a book trailer was Accidentally Engaged. I loved it. You can see it on my website. Unfortunately, it was still a pretty new phenomenon then, and I wasn’t even able to post it on You Tube. So I don’t think many people even saw it. I still enjoy watching it myself. My second book to have a trailer was My Sister’s Voice. Again, a few hundred people may have seen it, but I don’t know if it was a deciding factor in a reader’s decision to purchase the book or not. I think word of mouth still reigns supreme when it comes to deciding what books to buy. I wish I had some clear answers on this one, maybe this panel will shed some light. Are we just trying to be like the movies? Are we so afraid of being left behind the digital, technological, television age that we’re trying to disguise our books as little movies? I think we kind of are. But I still like book trailers. And Hollywood still buys books and turns them into movies. I would caution writers on spending too much money on them, however. I think there are a lot of companies out there who recognize how desperate writers are to sell their books, and writers have to be really careful to go with reputable publicizing agencies or persons. Only spend what you can comfortably afford because nobody can offer you a guarantee that it’s going to help sell your book. Or get a video camera and record your own book trailer. Do it for fun, but don’t depend on it. You know what’s really going to sell your book? Writing a really good book.”

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Lilian Duval: “Dorothy Thompson referred me to a GREAT video designer, Alberto Rios Jr., who developed an amazing video for my novel, You Never Know. You can see the video here. Alberto captured the essence of my novel in an unbelievable one minute, fifteen seconds. It’s astonishing how much emotion the video conveys in such a brief time.  He visited my website and took the best ideas for the video from there, plus adding some of his own. One of the first images in the video is a portrait of my four main characters by a gifted art student whom I’d hired to draw this illustration for my website. Alberto featured this picture to great advantage in the video. Alberto also selected the music that accompanies the video. I’m an amateur musician, and I feel that the music he chose suits the video perfectly—it’s just the right mix of warmth and melancholy. The same applies to quotes from reviews that he placed in the video. This was done very professionally. There was hardly anything to modify in the first draft of this video. In a subsequent version, Alberto added quotes from new reviews, making the video still better than before. I cannot tell you whether my book video was responsible for any sales, but I do know that it has received a lot of compliments. Friends have mass-mailed other friends with a link to my book trailer, and that really helps. Adding a video to your author website is a beautiful advantage, and I advise my fellow writers to consider book trailers as part of their publicity.”

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Patty Friedmann: “I had two books come out at the same time last year. Taken Away and Too Jewish. They were different in so many ways, a YA hold-in-your hands book versus a literary historical e-novel: those are the major differences. For purposes here, though, one difference was that Too Jewish went straight into marketing with a pretty powerful (if I may say so myself) book trailer. It was part of its pander-to-technology style. The trailer was simple. It was the kind of trailer I probably could do myself if I tried. I was seated at a book-strewn table and talked, prompted by two or three questions from off-camera. Because the novel was based loosely on the story of my father who left his mother behind in Nazi Germany, I came across as sweet and sympathetic and even a little sadly funny. It was a great trailer.  I know it sold books because I got feedback. I know it affected people.  It even annoyed people: my estranged siblings were heard to say I was effing nuts. It set the right tone.”

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Candace Hall:  “I am a first time published children’s book author.  At this time I do not have a book trailer but am very interested in hearing what others have to say about its efficiency.  I have checked out several sites and they can range from $100 to thousands of dollars investment.  After all I have learned in the publishing process it is clear if you do not have a professional look and know how to get it out to the right sites, you will waste your money. A movie always catches the eye quicker than a short story.  In today’s society we are always in a hurry and have become accustomed to a media advertisement as opposed to the traditional written introduction.  Honestly I have been devoting my time and energy to getting my book out there and have not looked at trailers for other books.  Believe me I am starting to seriously investigate these different companies and choose which one will best fit my book.  I am looking forward to hearing other authors comments on their success or lack after using a book trailer.”

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Chen Lizra: “I think that book trailers are a great promotional tool. As they say, a photo is worth a 1000 words. Well, a moving photo communicates even more. Statistically it shows that especially on the internet the trend will only grow – video! Video! Video! But here is the tricky part, a good book trailer will help support your campaign, and a bad one can hurt it. I have seen only a handful of book trailers myself, and I have to admit that they all lacked that something that excites me – the person was talking too mechanically, the images weren’t interesting, and it was not beautifully shot or professionally edited. They’ve actually put me off and distracted me from the message. But a good presenter with the right presence can captivate me even if shot as a home video. Bottom line, like the book, it’s about storytelling. We do judge a book by its cover, but we also judge it by the promotional material associated with it. My Seductive Cuba’s book trailer came out on August 29th 2011, the day before the official release date. I can say that it created a great buzz right before the launch. From my experience, in general, anything that has to do with Public Relations is effective when followed by a campaign to encourage buying. People need the message repeated a few times before they act. So the book trailer ca help build that initial interest, but then you need to advertise to remind them to buy. Also, a good book trailer is great for landing TV interviews because it shows interviewers what you will be like on camera. I have produced My Seductive Cuba’s book trailer with a professional team, and I believe it really shows people what is so unique about the book. It’s enticing. I tried not to repeat the very mistakes I saw in other videos, and I hope that it speaks for itself.  Watch mine at http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=3AAes7FszGY .”

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Mary Ann Loesch: “As a writer with a book that’s just been released, I’ve look at all avenues of promotions. Book trailers are really beginning to become a popular way to get the word out about your book. I’m not sure if my book trailer has sold books or not, but I do feel it prompts people to learn more about me and my urban fantasy, Nephilim. In addition to my book trailer, I also created one for my personal blog, Loesch’s Muse and my blog traffic has increased since its creation. The thing about book trailers to remember is that you have to understand how to create them and what key things you want to get across to the viewer. Images that relate to your book are important, as well as, choosing music that creates mood. Two great programs to experiment with are iMovie or Animoto. I used Animoto to create my blog trailer and my book trailer. Here is the link to my book trailer for Nephilim (http://youtu.be/yNPzwOIh4bU) and the link for my blog trailer to Loesch’s Muse, http://youtu.be/s413HUCDiKM.”

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Kathi Macias: I’ve been doing book trailers for a few years now, and I feel they are a vital part of my overall promotional package. Do I know if they have directly sold any books? No, I don’t, as there seems to be no accurate way to discern that (short of a book buyer actually telling the author/publisher that was the case). However, I learned long ago that successful promotion isn’t the one big thing we do, but rather the cumulative things that build one upon another. Book trailers are certainly a necessary element of that successful promotional package. And yes, the quality/professionalism of the book trailer is crucial. I tend to pay a bit more for mine, but it’s important to me that they are topnotch.  You can watch my trailer at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fy_37Tf54dc.

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Cheryl Malandrinos:I love book trailers. I’m a visual person. I must learn by doing and visual aids always helped me in the classroom. When I received the interior illustrations for Little Shepherd, one of the first things I did was create a trailer for the book. The music, combined with specific text and the beautiful illustrations created by Eugene Ruble, gives potential readers a chance to “see” my book and learn more about it. I’ve watched dozens of trailers in the years I’ve worked in book promotion. I’ve created over 25 of them. In order to be effective, a trailer needs to capture enough of the book to entice the viewer, while not giving too much away. Great consideration must be given to the words and music. Most of all, the trailer shouldn’t be too long. A minute to a minute and a half works well. If at all possible, they shouldn’t go longer than that. Two minutes doesn’t seem very long, but it can be when you’re watching a trailer. I can’t say I’ve ever purchased a book solely based upon a trailer, but I can say a trailer combined with good book reviews and being able to easily find the author online has led me to purchase several books.”

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Marilyn Meredith: I’ve had a book trailer for each of my last nine books. I love them. Whether or not they actually help sell books, I truly don’t know. What I do know is having a book trailer is another tool in my promotion plan. Of course it is up to me to make sure that I let people know about the trailer. Yes, I have actually been intrigued enough by a trailer to buy a book though I can’t remember which one it was. My trailer for my latest Deputy Tempe Crabtree novel, Bears With Us, can be found at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BjaY5GVht5A.  You can check my other book trailers on my website: http://fictionforyou.com/

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Greg Messel:  “It is difficult to know what sells a book. Book buyers are much more visually oriented and the book trailers can have an impact. I can try to analyze the virtues of book trailers however, best analysis comes from the gut. The first time I saw a book trailer I was wowed. The trailer was for a mystery.  It built suspense with music and shadowy visuals. I immediately thought it was one of the coolest things I had ever seen and I also thought “I want to read that book.” So much of marketing is emotional and trailers can amped up the emotional reaction to a book.  Can books be sold without a trailer? Of course. However, as an author I’m willing to try to reach potential readers by any means. I personally love the trailers I have for my books and proudly show them to people. I don’t know how many book they’ve sold but they can’t hurt.”

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Do you have an opinion? Leave your comment!

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