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Book Videos: For more than just marketing

Some of you writers out there may not be familiar with the social media world. There are now things called “book videos.” A book video is like a short movie preview for an upcoming or newly released book. In this month’s The Writer magazine, journalist Beth Bakkum writes a short blurb about book videos. Here it is with my added links:


In the age of YouTube and MySpace, publishers are looking for new ways to connect with the Internet crowd. Promotional book videos are their latest endeavor to do just that. Simon & Schuster launched a video site that features 40 writers; Hyperion Books, HarperCollins and Penguin Group also use book films, as does Oregon bookseller Powell’s Books.

The videos aren’t intended to be Hollywood slick; rather, they’re short, informal clips to help the reader get to know the author and learn about the book.

“I don’t know if we’re reaching people we wouldn’t otherwise be reaching, but we are reaching people who are not necessarily reading book-review sections, or always watching a TV show,”Sue Fleming, Simon & Schuster’s vice president and executive director for online and consumer marketing, tells the Associated Press.

Brian Murray, president of HarperCollins Worldwide, points out the success of the book video made for the bestseller The Dangerous Book for Boys by Conn and Hal Igguiden. “It was such a good piece that the Today show picked up on it and aired the whole thing.,” he said.

Author Marianne Wiggins recently made a video for her novel The Shadow Catcher. “I don’t know any writers these days who would say that it is beneath their dignity to make a video. Sales have been flat for publishers and I want to find readers. If my publisher suggests something like this to me, I’m certainly going to go hand in hand with that endeavor.” -Beth Bakkum

Most book videos now contain a short explanation of the story with an interview with the author. The majority of book videos concentrate on promoting the author more than the book. Robin Mizell of the blog Treated and Released has a great article about how we as authors and artists can take this one step up. Robin outlines how creative a book video can be, has links to some contests, and outlines in detail what an author should do to create and distribute a book video themselves. Check it out and learn up – this is where book selling is going.

I’d like to make an added suggestion for those of us who are working on their first project: Make the book video before the book is finished. Heck, perhaps even before you start writing. Why not use video and audio media to help you with your planning? As with writing a logline for your book, making an amateur book video in your own home can help you define your characters and hone in your plot. If you don’t have your logline written, a longer, more drawn out interview can help you get down to the bare bones of the storyline. If you can’t get anything out of it, show the video to a friend and have a discussion about your friend’s impressions. Watch a couple of book videos, do your own, act like a “real” author. This could go a long way in boosting your confidence, streamlining your project, and building enthusiasm to write. Two caveats: 1. Don’t show or publish the book video to anyone but your closest first readers/friends. You wouldn’t want interest to bubble up in a product that isn’t produced. 2. Think twice about sending your homemade book video to publishers along with your transcript. Whereas some may be intrigued by it, others may see it as a gimmick. Do some research first before submitting a book video. Those caveats aside, I think a book video can be a great way to start a project. I’m working on the script for my book’s video today.

Please tell me what you think of book videos and using social media as a creative spark generator.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Robin Mizell 15 October 2007, 2:29 pm

    Thanks for the kind words, PurpleCar. I’ve always found creative writers to be friendly and eager to help each other. The Web makes it so easy to stay connected and exchange information efficiently.

    I see you agree that we’ll be seeing a lot more book-related videos. The possibilities are exciting.

    BTW, via Anonymom, I discovered a brilliant concept blog called Six Sentences that will interest all writers. Wouldn’t you know? It has its own promotional videos.

    Now, I’ll enjoy following all of the links from PurpleCar.