My last video was so lame that I thought I'd dedicate a post to professionally produced videos for publishers and authors. The subject initially came up last week when I "did lunch" with a friend who's gone on to become a professional actor working in NYC, and I asked him if he knew any acting coaches who work with authors trying to build an online presence. No, I'm not interested in acting lessons myself, I just thought it would make an interesting topic for a blog post. He didn't know anybody off-hand, but didn't think the idea was far-fetched.
Then this morning I saw a new subscriber to my publishing videos, who turned out to be none other than Circle of Seven Productions, a pioneer of book trailers and the owner of a registered trademark for the term "book trailers." A brief aside on trademark law. I've been informed by both lawyers and by a friend who's been involved in trademark litigation that trademarks formed from common English words that express the plain meaning of those words put together are "weak" trademarks. Trademarks, like patents, are easier to file than to enforce. But then again, I'd need more than a few acting lessons to convince anybody that I understand anything about the law:-)
In any case, I'll let Sheila Clover English, the CEO of Circle of Seven, explain the book trailer concept:
I watched a number of the book trailers, quite a few seemed to be about vampires for some reason, but maybe vampire romance novels make up the bulk of contemporary fiction. I like how they use zooming, panning and a sound track to introduce life into what would otherwise be still images and captions, like the Ken Burns style of documentary. The trailers all tended to the short side, around a minute, the longest one I watched didn't exceed two minutes. The more popular trailers also tended to show a lot of skin, giving them something in common with movie trailers.
I'd heard of book trailers before but I'd never taken the time to watch one, so it made for an interesting half hour break from working. But I'm not sure I would be in a hurry to advocate videos about books as a marketing tool for the simple reason that they seem to require marketing themselves. In other words, if you make a video about your self published book, nobody is going to go and watch it unless you have a way of telling them to go and watch it. If the video has a sexy enough title and delivers on that promise, maybe it could garner interest on YouTube, but there's a tremendous amount of competition in the titillation business.
Otherwise, the only way the author would have of drawing attention to the book trailer would be to promote it. Whether promoting videos about a book is a more efficient form of marketing than promoting the book itself is doubtful, but it's true that a trailer can promoted in video related forums where book promotion would be misplaced. For authors who are putting all of their eggs in the social networking basket, a book trailer may turn out to be a useful egg. For authors who have already made their bones, book videos may be the equivalent of the image ads corporations run just to remind you that they exist. I'm trying hard not to say anything conclusive because I just don't have the facts in hand. It does appear that my publishing channel on YouTube draws more viewers than I directly send from my site. If anybody who's had any direct experience with book trailers as a marketing tool for self publishers wants to enlighten me, I'm all eyes.