The YouTube trailer, an Indispensable Part of Book Marketing

For almost as long as there has been a book publishing industry, authors (and their PR agents) have devised ways to promote books. In the article The Author Takes a Start Turn, the NY Times reports on how creating a YouTube video is becoming an indispensable part of book marketing.

Authors are increasingly filming first person narratives, or trailers, that talk about their books, in search of the viral magic that can seriously boost sales.  This is not necessarily easy.  According to the article:

"…people who spend their whole lives writing and people who are
good on video turn out to be two very different sets of people,” said the best-selling
author Mary Karr
, who last year starred in her first book video for
her memoir “Lit.”

But in the streaming video era, with the publishing industry under
relentless threat, the trailer is fast becoming an essential component
of online marketing… And now, those who once worried about no one reading
their books can worry about no one watching their trailers.

Some are achieving success, and the article includes examples, such as this one:

Many consider Kelly
Corrigan’s “Middle Place”
the first book to gain real traction
through its trailer. Released in 2008, Ms. Corrigan’s memoir of cancer
and caregiving briefly hit the best-seller list, then dropped. In an
effort to drum up interest, she began going on the breast cancer
lecture circuit, speaking to women’s groups nationwide… she read an essay on
the power of female friendship to a silenced audience, and ultimately, a
standing ovation.

She began reading the essay at all her appearances, to rapt,
commiserating listeners, and decided to videotape and post it online.
But first she showed the clip to her editor, who immediately called in a
roomful of Hyperion executives. “We thought it could be a breakout best
seller in paperback,” said Ellen Archer, publisher of Hyperion.

What followed was a carefully orchestrated stealth campaign. Hyperion
employees e-mailed the clip to about 30 people. It ricocheted, producing
so many Amazon orders that Hyperion had to reship hardcovers. “It
wasn’t slick — it was from the heart,” Ms. Archer said, “like that
Hillary moment when she broke down in tears and people felt like they
were seeing the authentic her.” To date, the trailer has had nearly five
million views; the book has sold more than 300,000 copies.

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