Survivor II: Writer’s Island

By Kathryn Lilley

I love being ahead of the curve.

Last week I blogged about the fact that we authors need to make our own book videos to stay alive in the new-millenium publishing paradigm.

Well today, our friend Neil Plakcy
alerted us to the fact that the New York Times ran an article about the same subject…yesterday.

Yes folks, some authors are paying big bucks to have a Book Trailer(R) made. But meanwhile there’s something else happening over at YouTube that is much more interesting. Authors are making multiple-channel videos to communicate with their reading audience. The multi-video concept is simple. It’s not a question of, “Make one video, sell many books.” It’s make many videos. To sell to one audience.

See the difference?

You see, in the YouTube world, videos are the equivalent of the author’s writing blog. Over here at The Kill Zone, we post a blog made of words. Over at YouTube, millions of people are posting videos about their lives. And they watch other video “blogs”, and they’re looking for fresh content every day.

That’s what we writers do. We provide content.

We simply have to learn how to master the unfamiliar visual platform to communicate with our readers.

Some of the most successful authors are already doing it. Hop over to YouTube and search on Dean Koontz or Meg Cabot, and a gazillion videos will pop up. And they’re certainly not all formal book videos. They’re interviews, goofy riffs, appearances, and what-have-you’s. They’re the author’s dialogues with his or her readers.

The question is, I know–does all that video-traffic sell books? Can’t say. I know in my case, I’ve posted my own (home-made, very humble) book video, and I’m running some meta-data reports on YouTube “impressions” and “click-through” data, trying to find the answer to that question. If I find out, I’ll let you know. And as soon as the second draft for my next book is turned in on 2/15, I’m going to start making lots more videos and posting them. I’ll be thinking of videos as a logical extension of blogging. And because I can barely hold the camera steady, you can be sure that my videos will be very goofy.

Once I started thinking of book videos as blogs instead of formal book trailers, it all began to make sense. And YouTube is totally set up for video blogs. You even get your own “Channel.”

And here’s the bottom line: The big-buck authors are already over there, making video-merry. You should check it out.

And a question for you: Do you YouTube?

14 thoughts on “Survivor II: Writer’s Island

  1. I do You Tube. In fact, just yesterday, I got word that an interview I did during Magna Cum Murder was just posted there:

    How was that for seamless and subtle shameless self-promotion? Actually, Miller has one posted there, too.

    Personally, I have made the decision to go ahead with a book video to promote my upcoming Jonathan Grave series in general, and NO MERCY in particular. We’ll see how it goes.

    My biggest concern as both an author AND a screenwriter is to have really good production values and a compelling arc for the video. Quite honestly, I think that some of the book videos that are posted out there in cyberspace actually do harm. Of course quality comes with a price tag, and the price has a comma in it.

    Look ma! I’m embracing the 21st Century!

  2. I gave the interview a starred review over at YouTube, John!! Loved your description of overhearing Hollywood pitch sessions. It did sound like something straight out of Entourage.

  3. I have to confess I’m a luddite but I think doing a book trailer for a historical book is a challenge – it could look like crap! I’d be all for it if I could afford to do it well. Any suggestions as to who’s doing these well and how much it would (gulp!) cost?

  4. Clare, I loved the one Circle of Seven did for me. I actually think a historical wouldn’t be that hard, since there are lots of stock images available. What I liked about them is that it turned out really polished, they did everything from composing music to shifting it slightly so Amazon would post it on the book’s page.

  5. Your video is fabulous, Michelle! Circle of Seven is truly the gold standard for book trailers. I did find out last week that we can upload a video to our author’s blog on Amazon. We don’t have to have Amazon do it. I don’t know if that’s unusual to do, though! And I’m sure it’s better if it’s displayed on the main page. But in a pinch…

  6. Nice post, Kathryn. I think John is right, some trailers can almost hurt a book more than help it. But readers are also viewers, and they’re used to movie trailers capturing the essence of the story in :30 or :60 seconds. I think if a writer can do the same–capture the mood, suspense, and general feel of the book in a short span of time, it can only help build interest.

  7. Just FYI, Tess Gerritsen said that she contacted her local university and sweet-talked the film students into making her book trailer. She got a good trailer, they got credit, and the big bundle it cost her was in props, but she got the really expensive ones.

    Just a thought.

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