Thursday, February 4, 2010

Why Do Book Videos?

Rachelle Gardner’s post yesterday was about book videos. Do we need them? Do we not? Do they sell books? Do they not? The fact is that we don’t know how much we need them and how many books they sell, if any. That hasn’t stopped us from doing other things, such as handing out bookmarks, or book signings or blogging, but book videos are getting a lot of discussion. The real problem is that they are expensive. Even if we do it on a shoestring budget, book videos require an investment of time, but when we get the publisher involved, the cost of a book video starts at around $3,000 and a well produced one could run into tens of thousands of dollars. Is it worth it and what’s the point?

Let’s step back and take a look at the big picture. Most readers don’t spend their days watching book videos, so even if we have one, that fact alone isn’t going to push our book sales up. It is a little like killer bees. One bee sting probably won’t kill you. Two bee stings probably won’t kill you. You may have a couple of swollen spots, but you’ll live. The problem with killer bees is that they attack as a swarm. One bee sting may seem insignificant, but thousands of stings will certainly kill you. We ask whether book videos sell books and we might say no. But if I have a book video and I hand out bookmarks and I have a blog and I tell my friends about my book and I visit forums and mention my book and I visit book clubs and I do guest blog posts and I do radio interviews and I convince people to review my book, I’m going to sell books.

Any of the things I mentioned could be considered insignificant, if we consider them alone, but combined they produce results. It’s all about raising public awareness of our book. The first time people see a book, they may see it as just another book, but if they see it multiple times, they will begin to recognize it and they may purchase the book just to see what all the hype is about. So, while book videos are expensive and may not sell books alone, they are a part of the much bigger picture and have their part in making people aware of the book and the author.


Nathan said...

Unless it's proven effective, no way no how would I invest that kind of money, or want a publisher to dish out that much money for a trailer.

But funny you should mention it...

I've never used Windows Movie Maker until today, and just fiddling with it for a short time convinced me that it wouldn't really be that difficult for someone to learn how to do these trailers well, with a minimal investment of time.

(If you want to see what two hours from a complete novice produced, to help illustrate my point, check it out at I posted it for fun even though I won't be needing it anytime soon.)

Point is, they aren't that hard to make, and like you mentioned, if done well, it's another promotional asset we didn't have before (for those who need a more visual hook).

Timothy Fish said...


I've used Windows Movie Maker before and because of some of the work I do at church, I've also used more expensive software. The trade off between the two is cost versus time and features. Like you have seen, there are low cost options available that may be good enough for the average author.

arlee bird said...

Making the video might not be overly expensesive-- even a few thousand is not that much to put into promomtion. The real expense comes when you start buying ad time on TV. Sure you can put it on the internet, but how many people will see it. TV advertising is the only reason I would see for seriously making a video and an author would need some bucks behind them to do it.

Timothy Fish said...

arlee bird,

You're right, that if we intend to use the video on television, it would get very expensive. I haven't seen many books avertised on television, though I have seen a few. Most were in the form of informercials. I remember seeing an ad for some book by a bestselling author, but I only saw it once and I have forgotten who the author was and what the title of the novel was. That is one of the problems with television. If you can't afford to run an ad several times then you are probably wasting your money. I don't have time to go into it now, but I think there are better uses for video. I'll try to go into that in the near future.