Survivor: Writer’s Island

By Kathryn Lilley

No, the Killers at the Kill Zone aren’t taking a vote by tiki-torch circle to kick someone off our little blogger island.

I put the word “Survivor” in the heading because I’ve been thinking a lot recently about how I am going to survive as a writer in the coming years. I’m also wondering how the book publishing business is going to survive in general.

Here’s my conclusion: we could learn a thing or two from our new President.

As a candidate running for election, President Obama (Like the sound of that name? It’s official now) turned political conventional wisdom on its head. He ran his campaign from the bottom up, in a grass roots, internet-savvy way.

I think that’s what we writers have to do. Social networking, viral marketing–we have to take the marketing reins for our books in our own hands, and make it work.

Easier said than done. After a dismal fall in which I evaded many of the usual marketing chores, I recently decided to try to brainstorm ways to approach marketing from a bottom-up direction. I decided to start by creating a book trailer for A KILLER WORKOUT and posting it on YouTube

Michelle blogged about her trailer for The Tunnels that’s been up on YouTube for awhile. It’s a very good one, but I wanted to create mine for no money. So I spent hours over the weekend, reading how-to articles and seeking advice from my social networking sites. The results have been interesting. I first posted a video that included a shot of a woman who was completely naked except for a thong. I thought the picture was artistic, but some of my friends thought it was a bit too much. Anyway, I’ve reworked the trailer and put it back up on YouTube. Next I’m going to work up a new trailer for Dying to be Thin.

One interesting statistic from the book trailer got my attention: In the first day it was posted on YouTube, the video got 17,000 impressions–an “impression” is a video that was displayed in front of the viewer, but was not clicked for viewing. Sure only a fraction of those people clicked on the video and watched it but still…seventeen thousand!

I did an analysis of who was actually viewing the video: The vast majority of people who watched the book trailer for A KILLER WORKOUT were kids (I have to assume girls) who had searched on the word Twilight.

Uh, as in Twilight the book and movie? Aka Vampire love.

You probably need to have an adolescent daughter in the house to have heard of this movie.

I threw the word Twilight into the search terms when creating the metadata for my trailer thinking, “Aw, hell, Twilight is selling a gazillion copies. Couldn’t hurt.”

And evidently it didn’t. I got fourteen thousand Twilight-generated impressions, plus some kind of miniscule click-through percentage that I don’t understand yet because I refuse to understand math.

I have no clue whether this translates into any sales of books. A friend of my adolescent daughter took a look at the trailer and went, “A book trailer? But isn’t it already out?”

Uh, yeah. Movie trailers come out before they’re released, I explained. Book trailers…well, they’re different. But good point. Should we call them book videos to avoid confusion?

So anyway, viral marketing is one of my goals for 2009. Do you have any marketing goals to add for the year?