By Gail Z. Martin
You’ve written a book. Congratulations! Now you need to let the world know, and attract readers. That’s the hard part.
Out of the many options you have for promoting your book, many authors choose to make podcasts and trailers part of their marketing plan. One reason for this popularity is that podcasts and trailers bring sound and visual to the written word, adding excitement and engaging multiple senses. Another reason is that smart phones, digital cameras and inexpensive software have made podcasts and trailers easy to create. And the third reason is, they’re fun to produce and fun to consume, making them a great way to reach out to readers and create a bond.
“Podcasts” don’t really require an iPod. They are audio recordings shared via the Web that can be downloaded to and listened on any device that can play an MP3 or WAV file—iPods, smart phones, computers and a variety of MP3 players—and shared via social media.
“Trailers” are like the previews you see at the movies—short visual commercials that tease the viewer into wanting to know more. These can be viewed on YouTube, Vimeo and other video sites, downloaded to computers, and shared via social media.
What do you talk about on a podcast? Anything you want. Some authors interview other authors. Some podcast hosts record readings from their books, either with a single voice or a cast of characters like old-time radio shows. Others do a radio show-type of format that includes whatever catches their fancy. The point is that a podcast is a regular recording you share via social media that provides a way for readers to get to know you in a setting that isn’t specifically promotional.
How do you create a podcast? Although it’s pretty easy, that’s a little beyond the scope of this article, although you can read “Podcasting for Dummies” by Tee Morris or my own “Launching Your Books Without Losing Your Mind” book for tips and how-to ideas.
If you’ve been on YouTube of Goodreads, you’ve probably seen book commercials, sometimes called “trailers.” The simplest book trailers are really a video of a PowerPoint slide show, doing a transition from photo to photo to tease the viewer into wanting to find out more about the book. More complex trailers use special effects and even live action to create a commercial that brings a book to life.
One author I know who wrote a book with a pirate theme found a local pirate-themed event and went with her camera, taking photos of participants in pirate gear (with their permission) and sequencing the photos into a fun, simple book video. (If you use photos of people, be sure to get them to sign a simple form authorizing you to use their image.)
You can bring your commercial to life with music. Just be sure to purchase royalty-free tunes from a place like MusicBaker.com so that you stay on the right side of the law, and always use photos that you’ve either taken yourself or obtained through a royalty-free online service so that you don’t infringe copyright. You can use the iMovie app (about $5) if you have an iPad, or Windows Movie-Maker (usually a free part of your basic software) if you use PC, or even a program like Camtasia if you want to get fancy. Or, you can hire a service like Apex Reviews or Circle of Seven (COS) Productions, both of which I’ve used.
Why bother? The short answer is, because podcasts and trailers help you sell books. The long answer is, because a career as an author is all about building a relationship with readers, and that relationship happens over a period of time, utilizing a variety of senses. Podcasts and trailers give prospective readers new ways to meet you, get to know you, and learn about your books without a direct sales pitch. By engaging readers through sound and visuals, your books come to life before the reader turns the first page.
Still not sure? Check out the author podcasts and videos on Goodreads, including the ones on my author page. There are as many styles as there are authors, and you can find something that fits your technology comfort zone, busy schedule and lifestyle.
Give your books a life of their own with podcasts and a book video, and see what happens to your sales!
Gail Z. Martin is the author of Ice Forged in her new The Ascendant Kingdoms Saga (Orbit Books), plus The Chronicles of The Necromancer series (The Summoner, The Blood King, Dark Haven & Dark Lady’s Chosen ) and The Fallen Kings Cycle (The Sworn and The Dread). She is also the author of two series on ebook short stories: The Jonmarc Vahanian Adventures and the Deadly Curiosities Series. Find her online at www.AscendantKingdoms.com.