Sunday, December 16, 2012

Are Book Trailers Worth the Expense?

When I announced my intention to have a book trailer made, my critique group had a mini-debate. Another author declared, "Most people think they aren't worth the money." The truth is no one really knows what marketing tools pay off, but I decided to gamble on a book trailer. I'm very glad I did.  Here's how the process worked:

I found a trailer I loved. When I watched the video for Joyce Hostetter's BLUE, the music and images hooked me. I knew the person who designed that trailer could deliver the mood I was going for. It turns out the trailer was designed by Joyce's daughter, Wendy. I knew her prices were reasonable by consulting with several authors about what they had paid. I didn't look any further.

To get started, I sent Wendy a PDF file of my book. She read it and asked some questions. A couple of months later, Wendy sent me three different versions to see what I liked/disliked about them. At first we were going to start with the book's opening paragraph, but one scene Wendy recorded completely changed my mind. It begins, "Jessie, what do you think heaven's like?" I asked Wendy if we could lose the opening monologue and build the trailer around that scene. She agreed.

The music was the last piece of the trailer to be finalized. We tried a couple of different selections, but then Wendy's dad suggested dulcimer music. That was a brilliant idea! Wendy scrapped the previous versions and found the perfect music. It has a haunting quality that blends with Jessie's answers about heaven. You can watch the trailer for THE BALLAD OF JESSIE PEARL here:

Wendy uploaded the video to YouTube, TeacherTube, and Vimeo. I have since linked it to my GoodReads author's page and my website.

Another way I've used the video is as a teaser. I've sent lots of emails announcing my book to various friends and acquaintances. I almost always lead with the trailer. It summarizes the book in a visual way and leaves a more lasting impression than an ordinary email.

I would be interested in hearing your thoughts and experiences with book trailers. Do you have a favorite? Do you think they're a worthwhile marketing tool? Why or why not?

Thursday, December 6, 2012

What Makes A Great Debut Author Website?

I decided to overhaul my website to celebrate the release of my debut novel, THE BALLAD OF JESSIE PEARL. I spent lots of time looking at the websites of debut authors and the three that influenced me the most were the websites of Barbara Elizabeth Walsh, Caroline Starr Rose, and Augusta Scattergood. I decided to combine the things I love most from each of these sites and worked with Linda Kaufman of Kaufman Web Consulting to design my own.

What I like best about Barbara Elizabeth Walsh's website is the vivid use of color. Linda and I played around with a red much like that used in The Poppy Lady, but ultimately decided green suited the feel of my website better.

What I love about Caroline Starr Rose's website is a page called "For Teachers." She has a free May B. study guide available on her site. Since my book is also historical fiction, I thought this was a stellar marketing tool. I worked with curriculum designer, Debbie Gonzales and she crafted a curriculum guide for THE BALLAD OF JESSIE PEARL that is linked to the Common Core State Standards. You can view my guide here.

From Augusta Scattergood I borrowed the idea of a page called "For The Press." I like the idea of having a book cover and author picture easily accessible for bloggers, bookstore owners, and others who want to help promote our books.

I also took a look at more established author websites to make sure Linda and I have a plan to easily adapt my site when I have other books to promote. By reducing the size of the book cover on the home page, we can easily add more books, and there's room inside the curtain to add several more book trailers.

Do you have a favorite author website? Leave a link in the comments so I can take a look at it. And I hope you'll check out my new site