Tag Archives: marketing

Taglines, Loglines and Headlines for ITCOTD… Confused Much?

More Human


Son of a duke and second in line for the throne, Lyram is exiled to a lonely castle after assaulting the crown prince. When a hostile army arrives to besiege the castle, he believes the prince wants him removed – permanently.

As though answering their prayers, Ellaeva, the Battle Priestess of the death goddess, arrives unexpectedly. But she has not come to break the siege. Instead, she is in pursuit of a necromancer of the evil god of decay. When misfortune after misfortune befalls the beleaguered defenders, Lyram realises the necromancer is hidden within the walls, sabotaging the very defence.

How To Make A Book Trailer

How To Make A Book Trailer

Research on book trailers is inconclusive. Do they help sales or are they a waste of time and money?

I don’t even have a book for sale but I do have a book trailer. Why? For the simple reason it was fun. I did a workshop on making book trailers and had an absolute blast making this one myself. It must have satisfied some inner, more visual creative craving that isn’t writing related!

NB: sometimes the video file plays smoothly for me and sometimes it doesn’t. If you have a similar problem, I suggest you press play, then pause, and wait for the whole file to buffer before attempting to watch it. Apologies. 

So if you can make your own book trailer cheaply and easily, cost ceases to be so much of an issue – even if, maybe, the book trailer has no significant effect on sales. 

So how does one go about making a book trailer? Here are some guidelines and resources you can use. I am assuming familiarity with the software I refer to, but if you have a technical question, please do ask in the comments.
  1. Write an effective script. Start with a back cover blurb (or write a new one) to build your script from. It needs to be specific. In reality, this is going to end up looking a bit like a three line elevator pitch. I know, I know. Tough call. We all hate doing it. Do it anyway. And I stress it must be specific.
  2. The blurb needs to be broken down into 20-25 specific phrases. Specific. You want the reader to have a clear idea what your book is about at the end of this. Check out my script in the trailer above. Use sentence-correct capitalisation and punctuation. Don’t start each phrase with a capital. You’ll want the last screen to be information about your book and where it can be purchased. This last screen should stay up a bit longer at the end.
  3. Start a Microsoft PowerPoint slideshow and put each phrase on one slide. Don’t use fancy entrance and exit options for text, they’re distracting. Your slide transition should be set to ‘fade smoothly’. You need the slides to transition in the time it takes to read the phrase aloud. You’ll need to test this and adjust the options. Sorry – this is different for every version of Powerpoint so I can’t tell you where to find this but it should be reasonably easy to locate. One version has a nifty feature where you can play the slide show to set the timings. You click when the slide should transition and it saves the timing.
  4. Find yourself a nice font. It should be easy to read but not a boring, standard font. If you have a published book, you might aim to match the font on your cover. I get my fonts here but there are other sites you can use. Make sure you choose a TrueType font.
  5. Find pictures to match your phrases. You don’t need one picture per phrase. You’ll notice I have some pictures that appear for multiple phrases. I get my pictures from Dreamstime which has the advantage of allowing you to download watermarked images. You can use these in a ‘test’ before settling on final images and paying for them. If you use Dreamstime, you should use the ‘Small’ size when purchasing pictures.I suggest waiting until you have chosen all the pictures you want to use, then buy a subscription package. You’ll get more pictures for your dollar. I have dozens of spare ones left over that I can now use for other things.
  6. Add each picture to the appropriate slide. You may need to reposition the text, change font colours, sizes and background colours. Keep in mind the overall theme or mood of your novel. If you couldn’t guess, mine is a little dark, yes?
  7. Find royalty-free music to match the mood of your trailer. I got mine here and it was free, but you can buy music as well. the site I use allows you to search music by theme and mood. I cannot emphasise mood enough. Listen to the music in my trailer. Think about how much it adds to the trailer. We are writers, we move people with words, but don’t forget that music speaks to us in a very visceral fashion. This is why they use it in movies – it’s a very powerful tool.
  8. If the music is too long, you’ll need to edit it. I used a programme called Cakewalk for this. I had no idea how to use it when I purchased it but I figured it out. It’s relatively intuitive. There is a small cost to purchase. You can get it here if you’re interested. I had to shorten mine and to be honest the music may need to be shortened a fraction more just to end at precisely the right place but I simply haven’t had time to attend to this detail yet. We don’t add the music to PowerPoint, we add it when we convert the PowerPoint presentation to a video file.
  9. Once you’ve completely assembled your slideshow, the next step is to convert it to a video file! You can get software here to do this (if you don’t already have some). There are three versions here: a free edition, a free trial edition (which puts a banner on your trailer) and a version you can purchase for $45.00.  I used the free version and it worked just fine but you might choose to invest in the complete version.
  10. Once you’ve downloaded the program, open it and click ‘Add’ then select your PowerPoint file. Then click ‘customise’, go to the ‘Music’ tab and click on the green music note with the plus sign. Select your music file.
  11. On ‘Profile’ select the format you want. MPEG 4 or WMV are the most common. Select ‘High’ for both video and audio quality. Output is the file destination on your computer.
  12. Click ‘Start’!
And that’s it! Once your PowerPoint has finished converting into a video file you can watch it, upload it, put it on your website, blog, Facebook page and share it with all your friends!

If you are interested in learning more about how to write a script for a book trailer and choosing pictures and music that suit the trailer, as well as more resources for pictures and music and technical guidance on how to use various programmes, I highly recommend this ‘Create Your Own Book Trailer’ workshop. 

Happy book trailering!

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Twitter Etiquette and Marketing

Etiquette. I’m big on etiquette.

Not the kind of etiquette that says things such as, in relation to tea:
‘After stirring, place your spoon quietly on the saucer, behind the cup, on the right hand side under the handle.’

I don’t see the point in this. Why does it matter where on the saucer you put the spoon? Putting it down may have value – I’m thinking about the person at the next table who taps their cutlery in a repetitive and annoying fashion. But am I likely to be offended or inconvenienced by where on their saucer they put their spoon? I doubt it.

No, I mean the kind of etiquette that helps us manage relationships, usually with people we don’t know well, and avoid conflict.

Allow me to explain further. Some of you may have seen the #stabbylove hashtag going around on Twitter. A few people have asked me about it. I explained it (in a non-writing context, as not everyone who asked is a writer) as:

‘#Stabbylove is when you tell your best friend that, yes, her dress does make her butt look big. Because she needs to know, and you love her’.

Someone then asked me (tongue in cheek, I’m sure) why that doesn’t apply to strangers.

Well, the real answer is ‘etiquette’. We can say something like to this to our best friend because she knows we mean well and we’re trying to help her not to embarrass herself. If we didn’t tell our friend, and she found out later, she’d be mortified.

The stranger on the street, on the other hand, will probably just think we’re being nasty and be offended. Because they are likely to be offended, it’s simply rude to say so. It’s bad etiquette, even if you meant well. Such is the oil that greases the wheels of civilisation.

Etiquette should be easy. It’s common-sense, and it doesn’t take much effort. Unfortunately common-sense isn’t all that common and too many people are lazy, which breeds a culture of rudeness and selfishness.

Etiquette also runs into problems when we develop new technologies. It’s commonly accepted now that to write LIKE THIS in an email is to shout at the recipient, but when email was new, we didn’t have those kinds of accepted practices.

So what about Twitter etiquette? Although there is no written rule that says I must, I routinely welcome my new followers. It takes nothing except a little time on my part, and I think it’s a nice courtesy. Nice enough that more than a few people have commented on it. With fairly minimal effort on my part, I have made someone feel good. Not sure there is a downside to that! There may come the day when this is no longer sustainable, but I haven’t reached that point yet.

But there are many things on Twitter that annoy me and other people I know. I think they are discourteous, but if you are a writer who is marketing yourself on Twitter, you should also consider the effectiveness of the techniques you are using. Will you sell more books by doing something that annoys someone? Probably not.

So here is a list of the things that personally annoy me:

• Repeated spamming of my timeline with promotional tweets about your book or blog and nothing else. I don’t mind promotional tweets here and there, but when I can go through the timeline of a list that has one hundred people in it and see nothing but a long list of promotional tweets for your book or blog, you are tweeting it too much. Once every few hours would be my maximum guideline, but if you must insist, once an hour might be acceptable. And please, try to tweet something else in between. I am more likely to read your book or blog after I have gotten to know you personally – if I like you. In the case of blogs, I know some people who won’t follow you until after they have read your blog, in which case you don’t need to promotional tweet them. In either case, your tweets are either ineffective or unnecessary;

• Sending a direct message to welcome a new follower. If you want to welcome someone, do it publicly. Is there any reason you can’t? Your new follower gets a mention, and if you’re going to be nice enough to welcome someone, why would you want to hide it away? Of all the things in this list, this one probably annoys me the least. It’s only a minor irk. But hey, if you are marketing yourself, don’t you want to show everyone how fabulous you are?

• Sending a direct message to a new follower – and you’re not following back! Don’t get me wrong, I do not subscribe to an auto-follow or follow for follow policy (more on that later). But it’s just rude to send someone a direct message they can’t reply to. Few things on Twitter annoy me as much as this one, and after I’ve tried and failed to send you a direct message, I’m unlikely to bother tweeting you. If you are going to contact someone, do so in a format that gives them the opportunity to respond. As well as being courteous, this also helps you to connect more meaningfully with your followers.

• Sending a direct message to a new follower – and it’s spam. The last thing I want from someone I just followed is spam. I don’t know you yet. Sending me a spam direct message does not help me to know you, but it helps me to dislike you. Get to know people before you encourage them to read your blog or your book – especially a book you expect them to pay for. People are more likely to respond positively if they know you and like you. Spam is not likeable. I know people who will automatically unfollow someone who sends them a direct message that is spam. Think about that before you decide to use this to market yourself.

• Repeated requests to F4F (follow for follow). I do not F4F or auto-follow. When someone follows me, I will check their profile, and if they look interesting, I will follow them. But I may later unfollow them if they don’t prove interesting. I don’t expect people to follow me back just because I follow them, although now that Twitter is imposing rationing on the people I can follow, I may from time to time unfollow people who are not following me. I may find them interesting, but if I have to choose between two interesting people, and one likes me and interacts with me and one doesn’t… Well, I don’t think the choice is too hard, do you?

• Auto-response – I only just came across this one in time for this blog, so maybe it’s not very common – or maybe I just hadn’t noticed. I received an ‘automated’ direct message from someone I just followed. Now it’s entirely possible some of the tweets I’ve complained about above are also automated, but this one had some kind of tag that drew my attention to this fact. I was unimpressed. I did not feel welcomed by an auto-response. It was like the recording you get when on hold to a call centre – ‘Your call is important to us’. No it’s bloody not. This person had ‘welcomed’ me and probably didn’t even know I was following.

Now I’m not suggesting these things annoy everyone, or that this is a universal list of unacceptable Twitter behaviour. But they annoy me. They annoy some people I know. If you’re doing any of these things, you are not marketing effectively to us. There’s a reasonable chance you’re not marketing effectively to other people.

Stop and think when you devise your marketing strategy. Think about what annoys you, and people you know. If the things that annoy you are not Twitter related (e.g. unsolicited telemarketing calls) think about what might be a Twitter equivalent (e.g. unsolicited spam direct messages). And don’t do them.

Think clever, be courteous, and above all – be effective.

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