Sunday, March 27, 2011

Book Trailers: A Critical Part of Your Author Platform

Trailers have been around forever, even for books. But, they have traditionally been reserved for celebrity authors, or trust-fund-baby authors who could spring for them on their own. And, these were usually TV commercials or radio promos. Expensive, effective, and sometimes paid for by publishers in the bygone days when pubs actually promoted author's work.

Now, as the publishing industry morphs into something still unrecognizable and as the Internet continues to level the publishing playing field, the book trailer is coming of age. The ubiquitous author platform (that animal every author needs, but that few author's know they need) now has a new essential component: the book trailer.

If you haven't seen one of these animals, go to Book Trailers, a Blogspot blog. This site lets you view a host of genres and associated book trailers. Novelist Masha Hamilton did her own book trailer for her new novel, "31 Hours," which cost her a pretty penny, but this kind of exposure and advertising is essential now to promote one's work. One of my favorites is a trailer for the New Zealand Book Council, promoting a New Zealand author Maurice Gee's new book "Going West." This is one of the most imaginative and effective trailers I have seen. But, it also illustrates the growing challenge for writers.

No longer can a writer get away with a low-quality, bare-bones marketing campaign. You have to have high production values, which means spending thousand on trailers, websites, SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
gurus, and maintenance costs maintaining all these new platforms (gotta pay some techie to make fixes, changes, etc.).

So, herein lies the new challenge: when publishers refuse to spend money promoting authors, and expect the authors to fund this themselves as much as possible, how is a first-time writer expected to compete if h/she doesn't have the marketing budget to set up a website, develop a book trailer, hire SEO experts to get their trailer/site visible on the Web, etc.?

"The publishing problem has been solved," as one publishing luminary has said. But, with more control and power over our work, with the ability to now publish ourselves in a professional and polished way ... the old phrase "with great power comes great responsibility" takes on profound new meaning. Because, with great power and great responsibility also comes great dollar expenditures. I'm not complaining. The new directions and opportunities for self-publishing and the power of the Internet to level the publishing playing field are awesome and exciting. But, the message to writers is loud and clear: we must start seeing our work as a business, as well as an art, and become writer-entrepreneurs. The days of "big daddy publishing" picking up the bills and doing all the work are long gone.

We are now our own publishers—it's a good thing, but gosh it sure gets expensive!

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