Good morning and welcome to our special feature with Jeannie Ruesch of Will Design for Chocolate. This month Jeannie goes back to tips on going to the pros with your book videos and other marketing needs.
Take it away, Jeannie!
Welcome back to the social media series at RU. Today’s post is a continuation of our discussion on book videos and a further step into choosing professionals for your marketing efforts.
In my last article, I shared with you the things to focus on when you’re waffling over the option of a book trailer® as part of your marketing plan, whether to try it on your own and some of the tools to use if that’s the route you want to go. We also touched on when it’s time to call in the professionals. The initial intent for this column was to focus solely on professional book video makers and what they bring to the table, but I realized this is a big question. When do you call in the pros? When can you justify the expense of it? Do you have to be published? Do you have to have a certain amount of sales?
Unless you have unlimited funds and the ability to spend them willy-nilly on whatever meets your fancy, your dollars need to be accounted for and spending large amounts to promote your book may not even be possible. There are plenty of things you can do yourself as an author looking to build your career. With the help of your publisher, your agent and your ability to do some basic market research on your own, you can easily form a marketing plan, create a budget and research the best places to spend that budget. Depending on your strengths, you can blog, you can advertise, you can network and tweet to your heart’s content.
Often, the items in your marketing plan you consider doing yourself are the ones with a higher financial stake. Websites, designed printed collateral, and book trailers® are among the top three pieces I see home-grown. (Sometimes to the author’s detriment.) That isn’t to say you should never tackle these on your own, but before doing so, be aware of the costs, some of which are often unrealized. Whether you do it yourself or hire a professional, either way, you’re looking at a high cost: in dollars if you pay the pro versus time spent if you do it yourself. The unrealized costs lie in the unknown factor that could help or hurt you: what does the effort do to your brand as an author?
Be Frank About Your Own Capabilities
In a previous column, I discussed an author’s brand and likened the accessories of your brand much like the accessories you would use to enhance and add personality to the little black dress. These elements, the website, the book trailers, and any other materials that touch your potential reader’s hands are the accessories of your brand and they tell as much about you as an author as anything else. They set a tone. They set an expectation.
If someone walks into a room wearing a whiff of Chanel No. 5, with a Gucci purse and Manolo Blahnik strappy shoes adding bling to their feet, what would your impression be? And if that same person walked in wearing a home-sewn dress in paisley print with a matching handbag and Mary Janes, you would form an opinion. It’s inevitable, we’re human and it’s what we do.
This isn’t to say that every author’s attempts at marketing are akin to the paisley-print dress. Not at all. But you do need to have a strong understanding of your own strengths and whether or not your efforts put forth the impression you want. For example, I can’t sew worth a damn, so even if I managed to sew some sort of little black dress together, chances are it would fall off halfway through the night.
I’d be creating an entirely different impression than intended. So I buy the clothes I want to represent who I am and (thankfully) leave the sewing to someone else. As an author judging the value of your dollars versus time and brand impact, be frank about your skill set. Are you capable of something to meet the quality to represent your brand? Or just dressing up in a paisley printed dress?
What Will the Professionals Do for Me?
But back to the details. What do you get with the professionals? Why is that money justified? Since we discussed book trailers® first, let’s bring that to table to discuss and there isn’t a way of discussing book trailer® pros without focusing on the company that built the genre, COS Productions.
In an interview, Sheila Clover English of COS Productions said, “COS Productions doesn’t just do videos. We format them. We help the client get them out to as many users as possible, but we also do things like create press releases and send them out to online magazines and television websites.”
And let’s take a closer look at one of their offerings: The mini Teaser 1 is listed on their site as the most commonly seen book videos online. This includes stock photography, sound effects, music and the pros (in this case a professional editor and a script writer) to create something entertaining and unique. The cost is $800.00.
Breaking down that cost includes costs of the images used and the purchase of sound and music effects. You’re also looking at a good amount of hours for production from storyboard to finished product. In addition, the estimated percentage of overhead: from the software required to build these, upkeep of computers and their own continued education to help the professionals stay on top of their game. And you cannot forget the value of the expertise of the people working on your behalf. They are experts in their field, with years of experience and knowledge behind them to help them build the trailer to the best it can be. They know what the difference between 30 seconds and 1 minute means to a video viewer. What and when a hook should be placed in the script. How many seconds you have to engage the viewer before they click away. (Although, really, that one isn’t a huge secret. Test it yourself by going to YouTube, finding a few videos and counting until you’re ready to click.)
In addition, one thing that COS Productions offers that cannot be undervalued is their Distribution packages. The Mini Teaser includes the Bronze package, which includes submissions of the video to 25 social media sites, 5 specialty sites, 300+ bookseller sites, 5000+ Libraries via OverDrive and 1 blog. In that distribution alone, you’re maximizing the value of the cost. For a person alone, this would take hundreds of hours to find, locate and submit to the areas that you could. And beyond what a typical person could accomplish, a professional has spent the time, investment and years cultivating relationships and connections that reach even farther beyond.
I want an ROI, darnit! Where is that? (or, uhm, what is that?)
ROI= Return on investment, and generally before agreeing to spend money on something, folks want a guarantee of some sort of return for their bucks. (How dare they! ) With book sales, especially given the social media, video, and other outlets used to promote, it can be difficult to equate those efforts to hard facts.
While you can certainly say that four bazillion people watched your video, it’s not quite so easy to determine out of those four bazillion people, which ones were spurred to buy your book and if the video was the selling point. And truth be told, sales like this are not likely due to one specific marketing promotion, they are likely due to ALL of them. It’s the combination of “touches” (every time your brand touches your potential reader in some way) that moves someone to purchase. This is why it’s important to establish an overall marketing plan that utilizes the best of what you’ve got to spend: dollars and time. If a book video is something you see a ton of value in, then go for the best possible option you can afford — as long as if fits into your overall marketing plan. This isn’t the time to steal from Peter to pay Paul.
RU Crew, what do you think? Would you give creating your own video a try? We’d love to hear from you.
Special thanks to Jeannie for being here. Join us tomorrow for Theresa Stevens and her Ask an Editor column.
Jeannie’s Bio: It was a Saturday afternoon when Jeannie Ruesch gave up her illustrious, hours-long ambition of becoming a Dallas Cowboy Cheerleader (after seeing the made for TV movie). That day, she sat to write her very first story and when she was finished, she knew that pen ..or rather, pencil and collegiate-lined paper was the path for her. She was six. She finished her first two books in 7th grade—handwritten on 150 legal size pages and complete with hearts dotting the I’s, of course.
As an adult, however, she discovered the need to…well, pay for things. In her words, she “paid a lot of money to go to school, get a degree and go beg for work.” She began her career in marketing and design and continues to this day, with her graphic design and marketing business, Will Design for Chocolate. She considers herself fortunate that her passion of writing and her other love go hand in hand so nicely.
In 2008, she sold her first completed novel (as an adult and written on a computer this time) to The Wild Rose Press– a historical romance that has been a labor of love from the start. “It’s been through four or five revisions, including one complete scrap-it-and-start-over, and has been a wonderful tool for learning how to be a better writer.”
She is also the creator of the WIP Notebook, a writer’s tool to help stay organized while you write.
Now with a few more tools in her author’s tool belt, her first published book, and a drawer full of emergency chocolate, she has a lot more stories to tell. She lives in Northern California with her husband (who is likely tired of having his brain picked on the ‘male perspective’), their son and her brother, who she thanks every day (since he cooks and she hates to.)
- Book Videos Part I
- Brand: The Little Black Dress of Marketing
- Handling Your Social Media: 5 Steps to Using Twitter
- Weekly Lecture Schedule for Nov 15-19: Sandra Sookoo, Carrie Spencer, Jeannie Ruesch & Theresa Stevens
- Websites 101: What the Newly Published Author Needs