The world is in chaos, even if you don’t know it. The internet has broken the sound barrier when it comes to instant communication and instant gratification.
There is now an endless population of writers, authors, bloggers, tinkerers and pontificators all vying for an audience. And somehow they’re making money doing this. They’re selling their products to the great e-beyond, and you’re hoping to join their ranks by selling your book online—whether you’re self-published, working with a small publishing house, or you’ve seduced The Big Five. To stand out from this crowd and pull in more readers you have to create a buzz about your book. It’s a brave new world of e-commerce, and one thing is clear: it’s not just about good writing. It’s about presentation.
Which is why to help you sell books, you need to create video.
Okay, stop hyperventilating and let me elaborate.
The written word will not be extinct in the next 50 years. Whatever the form, writing is here to stay. It is the strongest, most personal way to communicate. Reading allows audiences to imagine greater, to create pictures in their minds; something a photograph or video could never do.
But that doesn’t change the facts. Currently the best way to get readers’ attention is through an online platform, search engine optimization (SEO), Tweeting, Facebooking, Instagramming, Tumblring, GoodReads-ing, blogging and commenting and keywording and posting and loads of other wibbly-wobbly-webby things. So how do you stand out from the crowd? How do you harness the power of video on the internet to help draw readers to your writing?
Make a video. For your book.
Just imagine: you’re flipping through Amazon.com looking for a good book to read and you come across a two-minute video that shows you what you’ll be reading. You don’t even have to read the blurb. Cool, right? Saves time and effort? Yup. And it improves SEO. Somewhere between 60-80% of people on the web watch video before reading a single word of text. Even if they want to read a book. Use that to your advantage.
Whether marketing books or bubblegum, the goal is the same; it’s all about connecting with the audience. You’re not just selling the features of a product. You’re selling ideas, you’re selling emotions. And that is what should ultimately drive your video about your book. Try to capture the emotions that your audience will feel, try to show them, rather than tell them, what they will gain from the book. This doesn’t have to be literally articulated. I don’t suggest you appear in front of the camera pasty-faced and unshowered and say, “my…uh…n-novel will excite you. It has a-adventure, romance, and giant s-space spiders. Please buy my—” snore.
You want something engaging that will grab audiences and make them think I have got to get this book right now. Every reader has needs, whether they be emotional/entertainment needs, or informational needs. Create something that succinctly tells them those needs will be met.
There are millions of ways to do this. In its most basic form, a book trailer is a video somewhere between 30 seconds and two minutes that piques interest for your book. This can be a dramatic video in the style of a movie trailer (like mine), or an informational video, a documentary about the author, an advertisement, or even a music video. Ultimately the type of video you want to create for your book trailer is up to you. What you do to show people that your book is worth reading depends only on the limits of your creativity.
Book Trailer for Thus to Innocence by Richard Bailey
Okay, you’re on board so far, but maybe you know about as much about video production as I do about performing neurosurgery on monkeys in space. If you honestly think I’m qualified, please, oh please, don’t make any major life decisions until you sober up.
You still have options. The most basic book trailer is an interview with the author. Use your phone or your webcam, brush your hair, and sit in a well-lit, clean room and give the camera your pitch. Hold a kitten for bonus points. Hollywood ain’t exactly going to be knocking down your door, but if you can grab readers’ attention, you’ve done your job.
You can also ask your network of friends and acquaintances for help. You’re likely to know someone who knows something about video. Or you can interview industry experts who talk about the ideas in your book. You can even make a video with only flying words!
And, of course, you can hire a producer or production company to help you turn your book idea or query letter into something that’s stunning. Or take all of these ideas and mix them together. The world is your digital oyster.
Though the platform may change, the need for books will never become extinct. In fact, as we begin to lose our way and a little bit of ourselves through all of the exponentially growing instant communication chaos, long works of fiction and non-fiction will become even more important to keeping us sane.That being said, we can all agree there’s no shortage of ridiculous statistics about internet usage. I’ve heard over 100 million videos get watched every day on the internet. And only half of those are cat videos. That shows you the power of video. Why not harness that power to help get the word out about your book?
Richard Bailey is a video director, producer, photographer, and author who enjoys nothing more than telling stories. You can usually find him filming, traveling, drawing dinosaurs, or perfecting his sand-sculpting skills. He has a respectable arsenal of lame jokes and enjoys nothing more than telling stories. He would be honored if you would watch his book trailer and let him know what you think.