When I decided to launch the Writing in a Dead World blog I had an important goal in mind. I wanted to provide a service to fellow independent authors. It’s not that I have all the answers. In fact, the purpose was to help find the answers to questions many of us have about independent publishing. The number of books, the speed in which consumer attitudes change, and the volumes of “suggestions” often leave us a little confused – especially when it comes to marketing our art. As I’ve said, I do not claim to be the guru of self-publishing. Instead I can offer to share my journey and my experiences. In other words, as I try “stuff” I can share it, tell you what I’ve discovered, and hopefully help others avoid dead ends and mistakes. Lets face it, as an independent author whether you are young, old, have children, are a student or are working – the book business costs some money and not many writers can afford to throw away money on things that don’t work. I’m fortunate that I have some disposal income to pursue my hobby and my passion. I can then share those costs and the return on those investments with my readers. And that is the purpose of this blog – to give something back to other writers in an otherwise competitive landscape.
Which brings me to the latest book marketing project – video book promotions.
I was aware that writers were using them. It makes sense – we live in a Youtube/Vine Video culture. Even readers love video. It seemed however that at best a video promotion would be a lot of work and at least it might be a costly investment with little if any return. I had no intention of creating a video for my book. After all, how often do you see a book promo on television? Except for author James Patterson who can afford a prime time slot. What changed my mind was Vine Video. I love Vine, it contains some really funny and creative stuff. I am currently working with my son on a Vine project called Six Seconds of Terror. Our goal is to attempt very scary stuff in just six seconds of video tape.
That got me thinking about a video promo for my book.
And of course my blog goal is also to try every suggested marketing approach to evaluate the different “advice” out there in the independent publishing world. I can say that it was a crazy weekend project. I took a short cut on my first version using a musical score by AC/DC that I knew I could not legally use in any real promotion. Honestly I had so much fun with it, that I decided I’d invest a little cash and try it “for reals.” If you ever felt like your story was cinematic – making a video will be something you really love. It’s a great way to take the “epic-ness” in your head and on the page and share that with others. Here is the promo I created for the Creepers Saga–
The video was made in Windows Live Movie Maker. I choose that program because…it was free and already on my computer. There are probably better movie maker software on the market, and although the Windows program is a little cumbersome, Movie Maker has some nice options and served my purposes. It does take a bit of time. A little less than four minutes of video took me about 8 hours to compose. That included the script, music selection, the video footage, putting it all together and editing it. I could have just done a bunch of stills, but it felt like that would not give the viewer anything more than the usual marketing stuff. I wanted more “motion” in the video. I researched royalty free videos.
Royalty Free means you can use the stuff – it doesn’t mean the stuff is free. I liked Shutterstock for this purpose. They had a nice search and selection platform. A low resolution video segment (regardless of length) costs $19.99. They also sell packages for a discount. I bought seven segments for my promo. The package of 5 was $79.99 and then the remaining two were $40 bucks. So all in the video segments ran $120 (all tax deductible if that matters to you.) The next and equally important was music. I loved this part. Nothing makes your book (or your life) feel more Epic, more Cinematic, than theme music. I went to IB Audio for that. I already had the smaller “stingers” purchased for my Graveyard Radio project, but they aren’t long enough for a video production. I needed a full three minute theme song. Something other than an AC/DC track that would get me sued, but with that same dark and dramatic feel. After an hour of listening to the vast selection at IB audio (and bothering my family with… “how about this one…or this one…or this one”) I decided on a musical score titled Underground. The cost was $24.50 for the 3 minute song. Expensive, but far cheaper than the million it would cost to license something from today’s radio play list – plus Imagine Dragons wouldn’t return my call. So all in the project cost me about $145. To get a return on that investment requires that I sell either 38 print copies or 75 eBooks just to break even. Unless, of course, I get a 100,000 views on You Tube and start earning advertising royalties LOL.
I have no idea if there will be any monetary gain on a video promo investment. I do know however that it has added another layer to my ever growing marketing efforts. More importantly, it was a lot of fun. Who doesn’t want to bring their book to life? And as a creative person, any opportunity to be creative makes for a great day. Even if the “costs” might keep you from the scale to which I took the project, you should give it a try if for no other reason then for the practice of presenting your novel in a short, tempting format.
That is after all the entire purpose of marketing – to entice the consumer.