MTV Meets Publishing: Book Videos
from The SFWA Bulletin #172, Winter 2007
I WANT MY BOOK TV
It’s hard to spot the future when it arrives. The first year of MTV went largely unnoticed. Book videos are already here, but little has been said about them. Allison Brennan in the November 2006 RWR examined the phenomenon.
The leading producer of book videos is Circle of Seven Productions (www.cosproducts.com), who promotes them as Book Trailers. They had the first book video “to play online, the first television commercial, the first movie theater ad, the first and only book trailer to win the prestigious Telly Award.” The term Book Trailers is trademarked but is emerging as the generic for book videos, even though they are not alone in the field. Pizzazzy Productions (pizzazzyproductions.com/ NovelTeasers.htm) makes their own trademarked NovelTease videos. The terms Expanded Books (www.expandedbooks.com) and VidLit (www.vidlit.com) have also already been trademarked. Independent filmmakers can easily produce a two-minute video for a book. The book video for Neil Gaiman’s Coraline started out as a university project but was then put online for all to see (www.bonsaininja.com/coraline/ coraline.htm).
The evidence in favor of book videos is purely anecdotal, of course, but so is the evidence for all other types of promotion. Some authors are sold. Toni McGee Causey is quoted as saying:
And of course Sheila Clover English of Circle of Seven is convinced:
Industry publications now also track book videos. “The Book Standard highlights five book videos every week, including author interviews, book teasers, and more. They also now host the annual Book Video Awards with entries from U.S. film schools.” Catch the videos themselves online at the Book Trailerpark (thebookstandard.typepad.com/ book_trailerpark/), essentially a book video blog.
Brennan cites the cost of making and marketing a book video at $450 to $7,000, but some poking around on Circle of Seven’s web site leads me to believe that a full package will run much closer to the high end of that range. They don’t give a cost for a usually two-minute Book Trailer itself, but a 30-second Book Teaser is $750 and an Interview Trailer with the author is $1,500. CoS includes the cost of marketing the video—posting to online video networks, bookstores, book clubs, and blogs—with the Book Trailer package, but charges $100 for this if you only spring for the Book Teaser or Interview Trailer. You’re on your own if you want it shown on television, but they say their authors have received 1,000 plays in big markets like Los Angeles or New York for “less than $2,000.”
The extras are important. All the authors interviewed agreed that you can’t just put a book video up on your own web site and leave it at that. Brennan concluded:
COMPARING CONVENTIONS: BEA V. ALA
With SFWA discussing whether it should have a presence at one or more of the big book conventions, the article by Anne Sibley O’Brien in the November- December 2006 SCBWI Bulletin comparing her experiences at the two big ones is a fortuitous find.
She went to BookExpo America (BEA, the successor to the ABA) and to the American Library Association (ALA) convention.
I got to ALA with BEA memories, anticipating a long, eager line of people who couldn’t wait to get my autograph. The day before my session, I observed a really well-known author autographing at a booth who signed only five or six books in the entire half-hour. The reason, my publisher’s marketing people explained, is because books aren’t given for free since librarians have budgets to purchase books…
ALA isn’t about quantity, but rather the quality of interaction. A single convention connection could lead to dozens or even hundreds of sales, if the person who finds and loves your book is a reviewer or an influential librarian…
O’Brien’s advice is straightforward. If the publisher sponsors your trip, go. If you’re using your own money, you may be better off putting that money toward postcards or a new website, which can give longer-term results. However, if you decide to go anyway—it’s a place to see and be seen, and deductible as a business expense— be sure you ask your publisher for a pass onto the exhibit floor and a signing at a booth.
AMAZON AUTHOR PROGRAMS
Dan Slater works with the Amazon Shorts program (www.amazon.com/ shorts), which allows readers to download 2,000-10,000 word short works of any kind (excerpts, stories, background pieces) for 49 cents. Amazon gets a six-month exclusive to the works and splits royalties with the author. Links to the author’s entire backlist of titles appear on the Short page along with biographical info on the author. Slater said that Shorts are “an opportunity to drive sales on new books and backlist titles. Readers can try an author’s work at a low price.”
Amazon Connect (www.amazon.com/ connect) is an authors’ blog at Amazon. The blogs show up on the author’s book detail pages and on the home page if a customer has already purchased that author’s books at Amazon.
Sara Woods said that authors do not give up any copyright on material they write for Amazon Connect, despite online rumors. The agreement merely grants Amazon the right to post the material. The Content page has a detailed FAQ that covers these issues.
Follow-up to the above: SFWA’s own Andrew Burt and Sean Fedora have negotiated several important improvements to the Amazon Shorts contract. These include keeping more rights for the author, eliminating the “perpetuity” clause, faster payment, royalties that do not decrease after exploiting dramatic rights, more author consultation, an improved confidentiality agreement, and the fixing of other troublesome language. Amazon is also discussing creating and marketing a special area to highlight the works of SFWAns.
MWA—MYSTERIES WANT ADVERTISING
In addition, their Board approved travel funds for MWA panelists at the Miami Book Fair and will partner with the “America’s Best-Selling Authors” radio show in a crosspromotion effort. No money will change hands, but the radio show wants to feature MWA authors, and the show and MWA will link to each other on their websites.
One further note from their TTD newsletter. They’re changed the name of their successful Kids Love a Mystery program to MWA: Reads. KLAM committee chairman Daniel J. Hale said the national youth literacy program wants to reach out to students in all grades, from kindergarten to high school. The new name also puts MWA’s participation front-and-center.
Along the same lines, Sisters in Crime announced in the December 2006 InSinC newsletter that they’re also using Authors Coalition money for promotion. This money will go to “assist independent bookstores and public libraries in promoting author events that are not funded by the publisher.”
GIVE, GIVE, GIVE TILL IT HURTS
Individual donations from readers like you represent the single largest source of support.
Be more empowered. With your support, Tupelo Press books enrich the lives of all Americans. Thank you!
Think I’m kidding? Though I copied the prose template from the PBS site, Tupelo Press is a real-life non-profit 501 C3 corporation that “relies on the generous donations of individuals, foundations, and corporations,” according to Campbell Geeslin’s Publisher’s Row column in the Fall 2006 Authors Guild Bulletin.
Readers can join at the lowest rung for $25 to $99. Big-walleted philanthropists can be Writers, Associates, Literati, Sponsors, Benefactors, or Laureates, or even join the Editor’s Circle. On top of all those, naturally, is the elite of elites: the Publisher’s Circle. A $25,000 contribution elevates you to Angel.
Buzbee’s book was being handed out as a sample of the “extraordinary new and established literary talent” that Tupelo Press publishes. Can’t we just forego the middlemen and get the Doge to act as our patron?
Mystery Writers of America, The 3rd Degree (TTD), 17 E 47th St, 6th floor, New York, NY 10017, www.mysterywriters.org/
Romance Writers of America, Romance Writers’ Report, 14615 Benfer Rd., Houston, TX 77069 [new address], www.rwanational.org
Sisters In Crime, InSinC, PO Box 442124, Lawrence, KS 66044-8933, www.sistersincrime.com
Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators Bulletin, 8271 Beverly Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90048, www.scbwi.org/
Western Writers of America, Roundup Magazine, MSCO6, 1 University of New Mexico, Albuquerque NM, 87131, www.westernwriters.org
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