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Saturday, July 23, 2011

GuestBlog: Jacquie Rogers: You've Made a Book Video - Now What?

Book videos are similar to movie trailers, only they’re for books, and one of the newer marketing tools for books, whether novels or non-fiction.

1st Turning Point reviews videos every other week and the reviewers’ observations have been quite a learning experience for us. Before I get into what to do and what not to do, let’s talk about whether you should bother with a book video at all.

Some authors are sold on the effectiveness of book videos and contend that a good video can make the difference between brisk book sales and mediocre numbers.I haven’t ever seen any actual statistics to support the fans or the nay-sayers of book videos. Rather, I’m in the club that considers them just another tool in the arsenal. What might sell one book wouldn’t be the best tool to sell the next book.

They do have some good uses—web content for one. I feature the book cover and video on each of my book’s pages, then include other, less jazzy but necessary information below it. Here’s an example of Much Ado About Marshals (

Also, if you haven’t submitted your book video to Blazing Trailers ( you’re missing a wonderful opportunity. Blazing Trailers offers you a page for each book, and it’s free. So you have the book cover, the blurb, the video, the buy link, and reviews all on one page. Readers sifting through the Blazing Trailers videos might land on your book’s page and be intrigued enough to buy, and they don’t have to go anywhere else to do it. Awesome concept. And the co-owner, Kim McDougall, is also proficient at creating videos, if you’re not of that bent. Here’s the Much Ado About Marshals page on Blazing Trailers:

Of course, YouTube is one of the most heavily used sites on the internet. When you upload to YouTube, be sure to put your website or a buy link to your book in the description.  It won’t be hyperlinked, but at least people will be able to cut and paste if they’re intrigued enough to purchase your book.

Most blogs are set up to use YouTube embed code, which they’ve simplified in the last few years. Once your video is uploaded, click on Share (right below the video) and you’ll get a shortened URL that you can paste on Twitter or wherever you want to advertise your book. Here’s the URL for the Much Ado About Marshals video:

Below that is the embed code. This is the code you can use to paste into your blog (but be sure you’ve clicked the HTML view first):

It looks like gibberish but never fear, it actually does work—but not if you paste it into the body of a blog in compose mode. It has to be in HTML mode.

So use the video on your website, your blog, Blazing Trailers, Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, and any other internet place you can find.

What Makes an Effective Book Video?

The best videos are almost always short, and let the pictures tell the story. This is one area where we authors have difficulty because words are our method of communication. Not so in a video—it’s all about showing, not telling. The fewer words, the better.

A slideshow with a big bunch of words between each slide is boring at best, even with good music. A slideshow with a voice-over is more effective but only if the voice actor has the correct intonation. I made a really bad video with a voice over for my novella, Faery Merry Christmas. Yes, it’s embarrassing but here it is: No, I’m not going to do anything like that again. Yes, I’m going to make a different video—this novella deserves better.

Sometimes a voice-over slideshow is just perfect, though. Take a look at the video I made for a friend of mine, Norman W. Wilson, PhD, who wrote a non-fiction book titled Shamanism: What It’s All About: The author narrated this and he’s not a professional actor. Even so, his voice and intonation are perfect for this collection of essays on shamanism. If the script had been typed as captions, it would have greatly detracted from the power of the graphics.

Speaking of words—the video’s purpose is not to give a synopsis. When’s the last time you saw a movie trailer that was a synopsis of the story? Not for the last 50 years, anyway. Movie trailers go for tone, pacing, leading actors, and the funniest or best lines in the entire film, regardless of whether they accurately convey the story. They want butts in seats, and trailers are designed to get them there.

So don’t write a book video script that is a story synopsis. Premise and conflict are enough. The script for Much Ado About Marshals is 30 (or 36, depending on what you count) words. Yes, you can do it.

Which brings up music. Not really but that’s the next thing I’m going to address. The purpose of a book video is to encourage the viewer to buy the book. For Shamanism, Norman sent me a clip of actual shamanic drumming. Well heck, it about put me into a trance, so we had to get less realistic and go more for tone rather than accuracy.

Always remember that you’re after readers, and all they want to know is whether they should buy your book or not. If they’re viewing your video, they’ve obviously expressed interest already, so don’t give them a reason not to buy your book. Don’t bore them, don’t insult their intelligence, and do entertain them.

Much Ado About Marshals
Amazon Kindle:
Available in print August 15, 2011

Faery Merry Christmas Amazon Kindle:
Trade paperback:


Janice said...

Great article, Jacquie. And very informative.


remyshann said...

Very nice Jacquie--great info. I have a few trailers and didn't know about the website Blazing Trailers. Thanks!

Tina Donahue said...

Very informative blog, Jacquie. I've had several book videos made. Haven't yet taken the plunge into doing one myself.

Cara Marsi said...

Jackie, thanks for this information. I'll check out Blazing Trailers. I love making my own book videos, but I'm not sure if they help sales. They're such fun to make.

jean hart stewart said...

Wow, what a bunch of useful information. I've had videos made, and love them, but not sure how much good they do...Jean

Katalina Leon said...

Wonderful post Jacquie. I don't believe book trailers directly sell books, but they do make a great on-line calling card and create name recognition. In that way they have value.
PS I love that head full of auburn hair!

Kayelle Allen said...

I liked being reminded about the concept of a trailer is butts in seats. That's exactly what book trailers should do, except it's "books in hands." I make my own videos and enjoy doing them. These ideas are all going on my "must try" list. Thank you!

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