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Archive for October, 2012

Is it time to make a book trailer? Marcie reviews a few of them

We’re very proud to announce that we’ve recently begun working with new author, Jennifer Laurent, to help schedule and implement the Nov. 27 launch of her book on conscious parenting, Excerpts from the Heart of a Mom. Jenn’s fortunate, in that she’s been able to put together a stellar team that includes publicist Nikki  Pesusich of Coterie Media, a wonderful VA (virtual assistant) named Cassidy Gard, a professional videographer, in addition to her book designer, web designer, printer, and of course, us here at Write | Market | Design. We’ve talked about the importance of a team in the past. Trying to do it all yourself is a recipe for disaster. Surround yourself with the best team you can – chances are you can come up with creative ways to keep the costs down!

As Jenn and her video guy are jotting down ideas for her book trailer, I’ve been busy pulling together some samples for them to look at. Here are links to 10 trailers that seem to cover a variety of book topics, as well as elements of the trailers themselves.

Now, I’m not a professional book trailer evaluator – but I have included comments about each one, indicating the specific components I believe make it work, as well as the things I would do differently.

http://bestsellerlabs.com/the-best-book-trailer-ive-seen-in-years/

This one comes with testimonial. After viewing all of the rest on this list, I’m not sure this is the best book trailer I’ve seen in years. For one thing, the author speaks WAY too quickly – and the thing runs long. I’d say under a minute is a good goal. And for crying out loud, write a SCRIPT for it. Still, the author’s personal story described by the blogger is definitely an asset in this trailer.

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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MyO2k-jApng&feature=youtu.be

This is radically different from Jenn’s book – but incorporates some clever concepts. I like the opening that borrows from a movie preview. Also like the male narrator and the occasional pop-ups with numbers and stats.

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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ar1QYy1Y8Z8

This is a professional trailer from HarperTeen – but it’s proof that even the pros have room to improve. I like the female voiceover – and the fact that she’s reading the text to reinforce it. Sooooo many book trailers I looked at use text and music only – no voiceover. Those are LOST OPPORTUNITIES, as far as I am concerned, to imprint the message with voice, rather than relying on the viewer to read it quickly and correctly and digest it all at once. However, the male voiceover detracts, as the guy sounds so uninspired and bored, I’m wondering how they released the trailer with this guy in it.

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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xaeNWL8rlBI

Again, this one has a clean, strong female voiceover. It’s a  thriller, so the trailer’s got that mysterious feel to it. Not for every book, but creatively done.

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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s6sTyNlJzK8

This trailer does a really nice job of incorporating the book cover into the video – although just once, and fairly briefly. The author also appears in a very nice sequence against a black backdrop. However, she goes too long and tries to do too much with a single video, describing the second book in the series that she’s currently writing. In my humble opinion, that should be reserved for a separate video.

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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fIpRi-lkQt4

Closest thematically to Jenn’s book, this is a clever trailer for a book by a different Julia Roberts. However, they again lose the opportunity to imprint the message by failing to incorporate a voiceover to accompany the words on the slides.

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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NIZ7SbK9ntg

This one has all of the elements I would look for in a trailer, and yet it’s less than inspiring. It’s got footage of the author giving a presentation, a professional female voiceover artist, and the book cover in several places. Perhaps it’s the “broken brain” concept they stress again and again that I find challenging. Overall, it feels more like an infomercial than a book trailer. One thing to be aware of is distilling a complicated theme or subject to just a few crisp, clear sentences.

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NBgQCz6dI_8

While this trailer use the author to great effect, also incorporating nice imagery to illustrate the points she’s making, it runs way too long, at just about 3 minutes. It appears unscripted – again, a script would really help keep it short!

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gzXyVfTpu0Y

This trailer takes a Monty Python approach that is rather clever, but it’s crazyLONG at 4 minutes. It also uses images of the people in the book to really nice effect, and has the author as narrator.

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iLiv99Xpr2o

By far my favorite of the 50 or 60 trailers I combed through last night, this one doesn’t use a voiceover narration and gets away with it because the music works so well. However, it  wouldn’t have ruined the trailer to have a narrator reading the names of each chapter as they flashed across the screen. It’s a little long, but it’s so well done that you don’t notice the length. Of all the trailers I saw, this left me most inclined to further explore the book.

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A FEW FINAL REMINDERS

Every trailer incorporates the book cover – some to better effect than others. Be sure also to include the date the book will be available, as well as a link to your site. In Jenn’s case, I advised her to make TWO trailers. The first will have her specific launch date and a link to the page on her site that describes the bonuses she’s offering to people who buy her book. The second will be more generic, with the timeless note, Available November 2012, and a link to the home page of her site.

Be sure to leave your link on the screen a while, so people will have time to write it down or type it in. Avoid all caps in most places – particularly if you’re using text slides for thinks like advance praise quotes in your trailer.

More than anything, capture the essence and feel of your book – and share the things about it that would entice someone to visit your site to learn more!

Laura

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We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

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Visit our website to view/download our Timeline of a Book, where you’ll note that marketing your book should start as soon as you begin writing it. If you’d like help setting up YOUR book marketing strategy, call us today for your complimentary 30-minute consultation! 602.518.5376

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Professional EDITING: It’s essential to your marketing success!

Yep, I’m a professional editor, and as such, I’ve always advocated that authors hire the best editor they can afford. But in this advice, I have more than my own self-interest at heart. Here’s the thing: it’s estimated that a person browsing a brick-and-mortar bookstore (a building where piles of books are available for sale to people who drive there in cars) will spend about 8 seconds looking at the front cover of a book they pull off a shelf and 14 seconds on the back cover. Provided the cover is enough to stimulate their interest, what’s the next step? They OPEN the book! And READ the words. So if your words are garbled, your grammar poor, or your text mistake-riddled, that person’s probably going to plop the book back on the shelf and keep browsing.

A good cover will get someone to open the book,
but the words are what sell it.

Now let’s extrapolate to the eBookstore. In ePublishing, the buyer often sees only a thumbnail of the cover before they’re taken straight to the sample chapter. In this case, there’s no 22-second marketing plug from the cover. The entire onus is on the words themselves. And if the words themselves aren’t polished and professional, people will stop reading and won’t buy your book.

What’s worse, they won’t recommend it – and may write a bad review about it.

TRUE STORY

I recently downloaded a free book called Dying to Get Published byJudy Fitzwater. This is the opening paragraph:

The jail cell was cold. Cold and gray and ugly. Jennifer ran her hands through her long, taffy-brown hair and sank wistfully against the wall. The chill reached through her sweater and embraced her shoulders. She shot straight up on the backless bench and shivered. She felt as though something were crawling down her back, something with many legs, but she knew it was her imagination. She prayed it was her imagination.

I’m not kidding – I haven’t altered a word. In her attempt to be descriptive, this author WAY overused the adjectives and adverbs. My first thought was, “Ohhh, nooo. It’s going to be that kind of a book.” Nevertheless, I decided to give it a chance and kept reading for a bit. Then I came to these sentences:

Your dad is a famous astronaut. He’s on the first manned flight to mars and won’t be back for three years.

Seriously. If Ms. Fitzwater couldn’t do me the service of even proofreading her book – let alone editing it – I definitely don’t owe her the service of reading it.

But it’s a FREE book, what do you expect? I can hear the arguments now. So let me ask you a question: What is the entire point of giving away books for free?

Promoting the author’s work, right? The goal, therefore, is to create enough interest so that people will buy their other books, recommend them to friends, and write positive reviews. How is that possible if the author didn’t make the free book as good as one he or she charges for? Dying to Get Published is a terrible book. If it’s in any way autobiographical, I can tell the author right now, a good place to start is with some quality editing!

For most bad books, it might end there; in this author’s case, I happened to have her book on hand to use as an example to you, my author friends.

Point of caution: DON’T DO THIS TO YOUR READERS!

Why does editing matter? Because it can turn a hum-drum manuscript into a book people will not only want to read, but want to recommend. And some of the best marketing for an author is word-of-mouth marketing.

Here’s how I might have rewritten the opening paragraph of Dying to Get Published:

Jennifer slumped against the wall of the ugly, gray jail cell. The chill reached through her sweater, embracing her shoulders as she combed her hands through her hair. Suddenly, she felt the shivery sensation of a many-legged critter crawling down her back. Jennifer bolted upright, knowing the bug was just her imagination – praying it was her imagination.

Notice we went from 72 words to 57 words – that’s a conservation of 15 words, and it’s much more fluid and easier to read.

Here’s a breakdown:

  • What’s the point of repeating the word cold? Unless the coldness is important to the story (it’s not), this is utterly unnecessary.
  • Next – it’s the first paragraph; we have plenty of time to get to the long, taffy-brown description of the hair. Is it germane to the meaning of the opening paragraph? If not, lose it.
  • The backless bench? It’s a jail cell – most people have an idea of what a jail cell looks like. Unless this one’s special, no need to oversell the austerity of the scene.
  • Save the bulk of the words for the interesting aspect of the opening: the perhaps imaginary bugs crawling down Jennifer’s back.

Whether it’s fiction or nonfiction – you’ll do your readers AND your sales a favor by spending what you can afford on a professional editor.

Laura

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We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

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Visit our website to view/download your free eBook, The First-Time Author’s Guide to Hiring the Right Editor for YOU. If you’d like more information about our editing services, email us or call us today for your complimentary 30-minute consultation! 602.518.5376

 

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Your thoughts grow the garden of your success – do you want weeds or flowers?

In line at the grocery store yesterday, I overheard a conversation between the clerk and the woman in front of me.  She seemed to be having trouble with the credit card machine until the clerk reassured her it was working properly  albeit a little slowly. “Oh, that’s good. I thought I broke it. That’s usually my job – breaking things.”

YIKES!! My self-sabotage language meter spiked into the red zone! Doesn’t she realize what she’s saying? I almost wondered aloud. If that’s true, it’s no doubt a self-fulfilling prophesy. She tells herself she always breaks things, and lo and behold, she always breaks things.

We’ve talked about how our thoughts and self-talk affect our results before, but I felt compelled to write on it today, because there’s more to this story. As I was getting in my car after purchasing my own groceries, I noticed the same lady pulling out in something of a beat-up sedan. There, on the back of her car was this bumper sticker:

Whatever I might have surmised previously, the language I heard this woman use in the checkout lane wasn’t an anomaly. She probably spends her life wondering why nothing goes her way, and yet she wears the reason right there on her rear bumper: she creates that for herself!

What does this have to do with your success as an author, publisher, speaker, and expert in your field? EVERYTHING! If you’re not seeing the success you want and feel you deserve, a good place to start your examination of why is in your self-talk. What are you telling yourself, day in and day out? Are you constantly reenforcing the message that you’re a great author and people will love reading your books – or are you sending yourself little digs like, “Who’s going to want to read this anyway? There are a hundred other books on this subject all better than mine”?

The thing is, we all do it. Even those of us most practiced at positive self-talk occasionally fall into the trap of self-doubt and self-sabotaging messaging to ourselves. The thing to do about it is recognize it, and then make every effort to reprogram your neural pathways to create positive messages instead. One of the best ways you can do that is by working with a coach, mentor, or other unbiased individual who will help you notice your patterns and adjust them.  Once you start making these adjustments for yourself, however, be ready to begin noticing all the other people out there who are still trapped in self-discouraging language.

Coaching can be viewed one of two ways: as an expense or as an investment. I know for a fact that the $3,000+ I spent on coaching this last calendar year has moved me forward substantially, in terms of my own expectations for myself, as well as in my results.

You certainly don’t have to hire a coach to see positive results, but doing so will help you cut your learning curve to a fraction of what it might be on your own. And if you look at almost every successful person you admire, chances are they have a coach who supports and encourages them to keep on making progress.

I read a quote yesterday that really struck me, a new take on an old aphorism: Don’t believe everything you hear think.

If your thoughts haven’t been so empowering lately, I encourage you to shake them up a bit so you start to see different results!

Laura

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We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

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Visit our website to read up on more articles on motivation and other tips for writers, including a couple from my coach, Karen Gridley – the Excuse Remover. If you need help getting out of your own way so you can write, publish, and market YOUR book, call us today for your complimentary 30-minute consultation! 602.518.5376

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Make your networking pay off by FOLLOWING UP!

Much of this content is taken from our October 19, 2011 post.

We spent a few weeks discussing the importance of networking as a tool for authors to build their platforms. Here’s a recap of those posts.

Finally, we’re winding up with some advice about the single most important aspect of networking, and the one that is often the most overlooked: FOLLOW UP.

An All-Too-Realistic Scenario

Ever since he wrote his book, Taylor’s been envisioning it as the stepping stone to a keynote speaking career. While volunteering at a large community event, he meets the cousin of a booking agent for a prestigious speakers bureau. Taylor is an SBM* and he’s taken Marcie’s advice, rehearsing his pitch till it flows off his tongue effortlessly, so he makes an excellent impression on the cousin. The cousin promises to introduce Taylor to the booking agent, giving Taylor her card and asking him to be sure to drop her a message in a day or two.

At long last it’s all falling into place for Taylor. But he never gets to meet the booking agent – and not for the reason you might think. It’s not that the booking agent declined to represent him, but rather that he never sent the e-mail.

Sounds crazy, but people in situations just like this commit similar career-sabotaging acts every day. Fear of success shows up in many, many ways; failure to follow up is one of the most common. It’s also a situation over which you have 100 percent control.

Perhaps your situation is not quite so extreme. You’ve just met the speaker coordinator for a small community group. But you hit it off and they like you and appear interested in having you come to address their next meeting. They’ll even let you set up a table at the back of the room from which to sell your books. Are you primed to respond in a timely manner, or will you fall into one of the following traps?

Self-Sabotaging Excuses

If they were to explain it to you, people’s reasons for failing to follow up might seem quite understandable:

  • They haven’t been trained to follow up and they don’t know where to begin. Even the simplest tasks usually have multiple steps. When we don’t have systems in place or haven’t completely mapped out our strategies, fear of the unknown can cause us to freeze, sometimes keeping us from starting at all.
  • They tend to overthink things. Sure it’s great to have a plan, but beware making things much more complicated than they need to be. Some of us tend to “what if” ourselves right out of good decisions. “What if they don’t respond?” “What if she was just being nice?” You won’t know until you pick up that phone or send those e-mails.
  • They fall prey to the Perfectionist Monster. Certain people get bogged down in the details about how much there is to do and wanting to do it perfectly. Perfectionists are too often perfect at just one thing: watching the door hit them on the way out after someone else has gotten there first. Follow this mantra instead: DONE IS BETTER THAN PERFECT.
  • They don’t prioritize their time. Much like having a system, knowing one’s priorities is essential. But anyone whose time budget is out of control can allow even the most important things to slip through the cracks.
  • Sometimes they just get bored. For adrenaline junkies, it’s the thrill of the chase that excites them. Once they’ve “arrived,” they’re quickly ready to move onto the next challenge and, as a result, feel that following up is the routine, unexciting part of pitching or prospecting. How many books do you think these folks sell?
  • While it is only an excuse, stress is very real and often quite debilitating. When we don’t manage our processes, have no sense of time, and/or procrastinate out of perfectionism, it’s no wonder we get stressed out. Stress is a distraction that can cause depression and other paralyzing behaviors that stop us from making what might otherwise be effortless progress.

These are all reasons smart, would-be-successful people fail to follow up. However, when you dig past the surface, they are just superficial excuses. What it really comes down to is that every one of these folks is likely afraid of success.

The only way through this fear
is to change your mindset.

Regardless of what you’ve heard from the people in your life … regardless of your own negative self-talk … it is imperative that you realize that you are worthy of succeeding. Remind yourself that you have the skills, contacts, experience, support – whatever you need – to watch your book(s) power their way to the top of your markets. And then pick up the phone, send that text, or message your new friend on Facebook. Follow Nike’s advice and just do it™ – and then be ready to embrace the success you deserve.

Tips to Improve Your Follow-Up Skills

  • Make notes about the person with whom you are trying to connect. These might include anything from  their hobbies and interests to their spouse’s name to their alma mater to their future plans. Doing so will make your follow-up conversation easier.
  • Pre-arrange the follow-up. Before you end the initial meeting, schedule a day and time for a subsequent conversation. ” Does next Wednesday morning at 10:15 work for you?”
  • Do it right now, while you’re thinking about it. Take action before your gremlin has a chance to talk you out of it. Just pick up the phone!
  • Don’t take things personally. Regardless of how well you employ your follow-up plans, you will find people who’ve forgotten about your appointment, are busy, have changed their minds, or may even cut you off. Do you remember the old deodorant commercial? Never let them see you sweat. And don’t take the situation personally. Just make another plan to follow up again and continue the conversation.
  • Be personal. Address your new friend by name and review the issues you touched on in your initial meeting. In addition, do your homework and if the opportunity presents itself, be ready to offer other useful, relevant information to further the conversation.
  • Be thorough, but be brief. Remind the person of where you met them (if it’s a brand new contact) and why you’re calling so they understand precisely why you are connecting with them. Remember, however, he or she is probably busy and may have a limited attention span. Make sure to limit your conversation to details they will relate to.
  • Become a resource. Remember that your goal is to create relationships, so avoid focusing entirely on yourself, your book, your request. Let your new friend know that you are a resource. Make them confident that knowing you and building a connection with you can be of significant assistance to them in some way.
  • Grab their attention. Be creative with your follow-up. If you’re connecting virtually, consider including multimedia elements such as relevant graphics or video. If you’re meeting them in person, take with you high-quality leave-behind materials. Leave them with a good impression.
  • Provide a clear call to action. Make clear at the end of your conversation or message your request for the next steps. Keep it simple, but be specific and tell them exactly what you want them to do next and by when.
  • Never be perceived as a pest! Though you may be bursting with excitement over the possibility that this connection could lead to the next phase of your success, do not under any circumstance chase the person. This will not only make you look desperate and pathetic, but it’s also amateurish and annoying. Keep in touch regularly, but don’t ever be the person who makes this person think, “Oh, God! Not him again!”

One important thing to keep in mind is that you only know what you know. So don’t fall into the trap of making assumptions. When someone doesn’t immediately return our phone call or e-mail message, we very often assume the worst – they’re just not interested – even if we have no information to back up that assumption. Sure, it might mean that they’re not interested. Or it might mean they had a family emergency and they’ve put their work on hold for a while.

Think about your own lack of follow up – the very topic of this post. Are you not following up because you’re not interested? Sure, once in a while that’s true. But equally often, you’re very interested – nevertheless, you don’t get around to the follow up for some reason. If the other person were to contact you, would you jump all over the chance to resurrect the conversation? If your answer is yes, put yourself in their shoes, and quit making assumptions.

Follow-up is your friend. It is one of the most important tools in your networking toolbox. Make my friend Helen Goodman, of Primo Promos, your role model. Helen has the most outstanding follow-up skills of anyone I have met in all the years I’ve been in business. She gets back to you the same day, goes out of her way to get you accurate quotes and help you order your products, and she does it all with a cheerful attitude.

So what’s YOUR follow-up plan. Share your tips and ideas in the comments section below. And in the meantime, happy networking!

Laura

*Savvy Book Marketer

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We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

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Visit our website to read up on more networking tips and advice, including links, ways to make connections, and day-to-day networking scenarios. If you’d like help setting up YOUR book marketing strategy, call us today for your complimentary 30-minute consultation! 602.518.5376

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Five ways authors should be like Christopher Columbus

Today is Columbus Day, a U.S. national holiday since 1937 that commemorates Christopher Columbus’ arrival in the New World on October 12, 1492. New authors can take many lessons from the famed explorer. Here are five of the most important.

1.  BE WILLING TO TAKE A RISK. Columbus is best-known for discovering the Americas, a continent previously unknown to Europeans. It wasn’t his goal, but it never would have happened if he hadn’t taken the risk to make his voyages in the first place. Like Columbus, be willing to jump into your book marketing with both feet! If you’re tepid, your results will reflect your hesitation.

2.  GET GREAT SPONSORS. The Italian-born explorer couldn’t have taken three ships out on his whirlwind voyage on his own dime. He had the backing of the Spanish monarchs, King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella. What individual, business, or organization with deeper pockets and/or a longer reach than you would have on your own might be willing to help you get your book get out into the world?

3.  HAVE A PLAN. Columbus originally intended to chart a westward sea route to China, India, and the imagined gold and spice island of Asia. Where do you want to go with your book? Whom do you want to read it? How many copies do you want to sell? Where and how do you want to promote it? You must know the answers to these questions before you begin your book marketing – the only way to do that is with a detailed plan.

4.  ALLOW FOR COURSE CORRECTIONS.  Instead of reaching Asia, Columbus landed in the Bahamas. Later he tried again and came across Hispaniola. So let’s say your marketing plan doesn’t go exactly according to plan. How can you make the best of the results you do achieve, and remain open to the possibility of heading in a different direction?

5.  KEEP AT IT!  Christopher Columbus didn’t quit after his first “unsuccessful” journey. Between 1492 and 1503, Columbus completed FOUR round-trip voyages between Spain and the Americas. And we’re not talking a speedboat or a yacht, here. This was no easy journey to do once, let alone four times. Be diligent about your marketing pursuits and keep at it. It’s easy to get discouraged when you work at it and work at it and still see few results. However, far too many people throw in the towel just before they reach the tipping point when they would have started to gain traction. This is true of blogging, social media, and many other aspects of your marketing strategy. I advice my clients not to even begin looking for results for the first six months, and to keep at it even if it “doesn’t seem to be working.”

So how will you take a page out of Columbus’ book and apply it to YOUR book marketing campaign?

Laura

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We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

__________________

Visit our website to view/download our Timeline of a Book, where you’ll note that marketing your book should start as soon as you begin writing it. If you’d like help setting up YOUR book marketing strategy, call us today for your complimentary 30-minute consultation! 602.518.5376

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