My guest on Winterville Writer today is Darcy Pattison, author of 19 Girls and Me; Searching for Oliver K. Woodman; The Journey of Oliver K. Woodman; The Wayfinder; and The River Dragon. Darcy also is the author of one of the books I most often recommend to aspiring and published writers: Novel Metamorphsis. I first encountered this book in an earlier, not-yet-published, version while attending Darcy’s popular novel rewriting workshop in Hoover, Alabama several years ago. That weekend in “novel rewriting bootcamp” changed my life. After those two days spent with Darcy and 24 other writers in Joan Broerman’s basement, I developed a more serious attitude toward my writing, and approximately five years later, I sold my first book, Gone From These Woods.
Today I am excited to tell you about a new Darcy Pattison book: The Book Trailer Manual. Darcy is offering this book only in a digital format, which you can download by following this link. (Disclosure: If you follow the link, I will receive a commission.) Darcy says she is making her book available this way because the art of creating book trailers is still so new that this digital format allows her to easily make changes and keep the book updated. Darcy and I recently did a question and answer session. My questions and her answers are below.
Donny: Darcy, welcome to Winterville Writer. I’m so glad you’re here to tell us about The Book Trailer Manual. What made you decide to write this book?
Darcy: Everywhere I turn these days, there are conversations about how authors can market their books, specifically how can they market online; and even more specifically, do book trailers work? I set out to find some answers and it grew into this book.
Donny: What’s the number one reason an author should make a book trailer?
Darcy: To reach an audience you believe likes to watch videos.
Donny: In the book, you admit that book trailers aren’t for everyone. What kind of book would not benefit from a book trailer?
Darcy: If you want to use a book trailer, you should first find out if your audience is online somewhere. On the sites where they congregate, do they watch videos? If the answer is that you can’t find that audience online and/or the audience doesn’t watch videos, then a trailer won’t help you reach that audience.
Donny: You advise authors to begin early. Tell us why an early start on our book trailers is important.
Darcy: The process of making a book trailer can be extensive, especially if you’re a beginner. You’ll need to get up to speed on the software and hardware; you’ll need to walk through the process of buying images and sound. You’ll need to create a YouTube channel and customize it. It takes time to create a great trailer and distribute it well. Do yourself a favor by starting early and having the time to do it right. At the same time, there may be times when you need to get something up quickly. I think one of the most important tips is to be flexible and nimble. Take time at first to learn the software and how to create a video. Then, when the book is released, be ready to do something quickly if you need to. For example, if you get a great review, you should (of course) post it everywhere. But it’s also worth probably a quick video. These types of videos can be informal and stick with the YouTube aesthetic of authentic, but not necessarily polished to the nth degree.
Donny: On page 12, you say that YouTube has proven that audiences respond to great content, regardless of the production quality. Could you talk about that?
Darcy: This is the YouTube aesthetic. If you look at the front page of YouTube at Videos Being Watched Now or Most Popular videos (not the Featured Videos because those are paid-placement videos), you’ll see a wide range of aesthetics, from polished to informal. The most popular, those with hundreds of thousands of views, are short, authentic, and have something funny going on that is fun to pass along. If you can appeal to that aesthetic, it works. For example, look at this video from Jon Scieszka’s Guys Read program. It’s just a bunch of authors telling a joke; the video spliced in a bunch of authors, each telling a short section of the joke. It’s informal and fun. It’s also too long, using the last full minute to identify each author and show the book’s cover. But that aside, the joke is more of the YouTube aesthetic.
Donny: You say that we must decide what call of action we want viewers of our book trailer to take and you list these possible actions. What is the most beneficial choice for most authors?
Darcy: It depends. Some authors have strong email newsletters and the most logical choice is to ask people to sign up for their newsletters. Others want to send readers to an independent bookstore site. The most beneficial choice will be determined by the book, your audience, and your goals for your trailer.
Donny: I intended to make a book trailer for Gone From These Woods. I even bought a Flip video camera (one of the items you talk about in your book). But somehow, I never did actually make the trailer. I think I felt a little intimidated by the process. Do you advise authors whose book are already out and have maybe even been out awhile to make a book trailer? Are they still helpful if your book is not new?
Darcy: Yes! Alexis O’Neill talks about doing ongoing publicity for your titles in a post on my site, Why you Should Promote Your Back-List Books. She reminds us all, “As long as a book is in print, it’s alive!”
Donny: Is there a trailer for The Book Trailer Book?
Darcy: I created a Book Trailer Manual channel on YouTube.com and have several playlists of videos I discuss in the manual. Also on the channel are trailers for my teen fantasy novel, The Wayfinder, demonstrating different software.
Donny: Have you noticed an increase in sales for your books that have trailers?
Darcy: I have trailers for The Wayfinder, my teen novel which is now available for Kindle, Nook, iPad and other digital readers. Yes, I’ve seen some sales coming in from the trailer, but it’s too early to say how much it will help.
Donny: What makes you stop watching a book trailer?
Darcy: Boring concept. Bad music. Static images.
Donny: Do you have any particular favorite book trailers? You’ve included some examples in your book. Are those your favorites?
Darcy: The trailers mentioned in The Book Trailer Manual represent something that I’m trying to point out. Some are just great examples that make a point; others are truly my favorites. My all time favorite is The Book of SPAM’s Toastvertising and the accompanying video which shows how the trailer was made. For me, it’s the first entry in the Book Trailer Hall of Fame. I’m also starting to distinguish between two types of trailers. In some ways, the moniker “book trailer” is unfortunate because it evokes the aesthetic of the movie trailer. Yet the trailers I like best tend to be those with the “YouTube” aesthetic.
Donny: Thanks, Darcy! I feel like I’ve just had a mini-class in making a book trailer and I can’t wait to begin shooting. Readers who would like to learn more about book trailers might want to join The Book Trailer Manual newsletter and receive a free Special Report: 43 Sites to Upload Your Trailer. For more information about author Darcy Pattison, visit her website./
Note: This post originally appeared on my blogspot blog, Winterville Writer, Aug. 30 2010.