Posts Tagged self promotion

Story Trailer

Fellow Memory Eater contributor Justin Swapp is working on a series of story trailers for the anthology.  Mine went live today, and includes Carly Sorge’s fantastic artwork for the story, which I’ve previously only shown to select people on my iPod screen.  So I figured I should show it off to everyone:

Before I talk more about book and story trailers, let’s go through all the standard ads.  We still need a lot of support to get The Memory Eater funded.  We’ve had an awesome first week and the 1/3 funding threshold is already in our rear view mirror, but it’s still a long road ahead.  $8 gets you an eBook, $15 gets you the print edition, cheap for either and both help support us.  There are also still four original pieces of story art available for purchase.  The sampler, including the start to my story Home Again, is still live.  There’s also an interview with the editor up.  Go check it all out.

I’m still trying to wrap my head around book trailers.  I’m not going to pretend I know the full history of these videos, I only know my personal history with them.  It’s a history of jealousy and distrust, just as all good stories should be.  Long before I was on the internet, the only book trailers I ever saw were those very few books that got television commercials.  They would be Tom Clancy books and James Patterson books.  Hell, Patterson still shows up regularly, even in commercials that aren’t actually for his books.  I’m not sure where the feelings first came from, but as I got older I rolled my eyes more and more at book commercials.  Something about the kind of books that were being advertised to the much lower common denominator of the television audience.

Yes, I was a snotty little brat at points in my life.  Perhaps still am.

Do I begrudge James Patterson of his success?  No.  Do I wish I had it for myself?  Absolutely.  Even if that meant feeling like I was selling my soul and engaging in the kinds of writerly activities that I’ve rolled my eyes at in the past?  You better fucking believe it.

But I don’t, and so I still roll my eyes whenever I see James Patterson threatening to kill of a character from a series of books I don’t read if I don’t read the new one.  Or using words like “unputdownable.”  Which appeared in two different commercials, so I suspect he’s trolling us.  Which I can begrudgingly respect him for.

I’m not sure when I first saw a book trailer on YouTube.  I do know it was recent, because I think the book trailer for last year’s Phoenix Rising was the first I actually sat down and watched in its entirety.  When I first came across these trailers, I lumped them in with the Patterson and Clancy commercials, and dismissed them as a whole.  However, there’s one very big element to the commercials that set them apart from the trailers.

How many authors can you name that get commercials?  Beyond the ones I already have in this post.  It’s not something that happens for a huge, vast, overwhelming majority of writers.  Seriously, the number of writers who get television commercials is a rounding error away from 0%.  It’s just an avenue of advertising not open for even the biggest name writers, and certainly not for those who are relative unknowns in the field.

I’m going to stop right there, because you all see where this is going.  This is me waxing on about how the internet democratizes communication, allowing individuals to reach out to individuals in a way never before possible.  Yes.  That’s exactly what I’m saying, and I know it’s not any kind of grand revelation.  Hell, this entire blog is one fledgling writer reaching out to people that he wouldn’t have any way of reaching out to before the internet.

So instead, as someone who has viewed a couple of book trailers now, some thoughts I’ve had.

  1. Use all the resources available to you.  If all you have is a program that lets you put up some simple animations with some clip art, do it.  If you have friends with any kind of film making experience who owe you favors, cash them in.  The better it looks, the more likely someone is going to stick with it long enough to see the publication date, or share it with friends.
  2. Remember it represents you.  Check the spelling, check the grammar, take some time to edit it and make it something you can be proud of, and something that will represent you positively.
  3. Get it out there.  Youtube isn’t going to send the link out for you.  Yes, the internet blah blah democratization blah blah.  It hasn’t gone THAT far.  Get the word out there.  Zero views does no one any good.
  4. Don’t spam.  I’m trying to be good about this myself during the Kickstarter campaign, and I certainly hope people will say something if I’m going too far (this is not only permission to do so, but an actual request).  I’m limiting myself to a tweet a day and a blog post a week, where the blog post has to use the Kickstarter to segue into another topic.  Diminishing returns are a real thing.  You’re talking to largely the same audience each time.  I have personally hit that unfollow button on the writer who keeps posting the same blog post or video four or five times a day every single day.

Get out there.  Self promote.  It’s the power of the internet.

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Amazon Price Check

For anyone who hasn’t been following the tech blogs this week, or any of the other sites that have talked about the Amazon scanner promotion, a brief background.  Amazon is looking to encourage what it calls “comparison shopping” by those who have smartphones and the Amazon Price Check app.  Simply take your smart phone into a regular store, scan the bar code, and see what the price of the item is on Amazon.  This past Saturday, they were even offering 5% off up to three items, maxing out at $5 each.

It was seen by many as an aggressive move, another shot across the bow of brick-and-mortar retailing from a company already largely credited with destroying book selling giant Borders (though I still contend they did as much to hurt themselves as Amazon ever did to them).  And it created a backlash against the company as many accused them of using everyday people as price spies, and encouraging people to go into mom-and-pop stores that they had no intention of shopping at just to get up to $15.  How much of this is true, it’s hard to say.  I can’t imagine no one walked into a store intending to do a quick price scan, and didn’t buy something anyway.  Someone somewhere generated a sale they otherwise wouldn’t have.  And most people buying from Amazon that day were probably already going to buy from Amazon anyway, and were just looking for a quick sawbuck.

I’m not defending Amazon.  I’m just not looking to engage in nearly the rhetoric I’ve seen against a company that is always looking for a new way of changing the way consumers approach products.  This is the same company that created Amazon Studios, a project that I’m thrilled to say I was wrong about when I approached it with some cynicism at its launch.  It’s a company that is now directly publishing and selling books, a move that I’m still cynical about.  It’s a company that took a flagging market in eBooks and has turned it into a commercial success.  This campaign was largely a PR miss for them, but that’s something they can brush off.

What I found much more intriguing about this promotion was the way it embraced smart phone technology.  There’s no doubt that the devices are rapidly changing the way we live life, and are an increasing share of the phone market.  Hell, I have two of them.  Nearly three if you count my iPod Touch.  And one of my desires when buying a new phone was one that could do on-the-fly barcode reading, something that my old Pre could just never quite handle due to the fixed focus lens.  It’s a step towards a world where we’re in more direct contact with companies, and where information can be delivered to us on the fly.

Consider the QR Code.  Those are the little black-and-white squares showing up in more and more advertising, especially in places where people tend to have smart phones on them.  They can be quickly scanned and decoded by most modern smart devices, delivering a website address or up to 250 characters of text on the fly.  And that’s really the intriguing part of all of this, on the fly voluntary advertising.  People have to make an active decision to pull out their phone and scan the code, transforming what is typically passive advertising into much more active advertising.

Why?

Because it’s fun, and cool.

As someone occasionally obsessed with new channels for self promotion, this strikes me as intriguing.  I’ve already heard of tech conventions that include, on every badge, a QR Code containing all the typical business card information for that participant.  It cuts out the in-between activities of adding someone into your phone’s contact list by directly dropping them in with a quick scan.  On my own, I’ve played with the idea of QR codes that contain links to my blog, links to my book on Smashwords (when that was a thing) and have even considered the idea of original fiction short enough to put into a QR Code.  Hell, people have created twitter-length fiction, QR gives an entire 110 extra characters for just a bit more plot depth.  That’s almost twice the length.

Where does all of this lead us?  I can’t help but wonder when the active will become passive again, with QR giving way to augmented reality.  I also can’t help but wonder when it won’t be just a barcode that Amazon wants you to scan, but a product itself.  Can I take a picture of my desk and see how much each item on it would cost to replace?  It creates new lines of self promotion, something that every author engages in at least a little of.  Just that slightly intriguing different take on letting the world know who you are, just enough to get eyeballs.  And it digitizes things one step further.  It changes the way people interact with their world, with their commerce, and with content distribution.  QR codes could easily point someone to a short story, or even a novel, available free for quick download.

I can’t say that Amazon is changing the world for the better or worse by asking people to scan barcodes.  I can’t say that QR codes are going to be anything more than a fad.  But it is all a new form of digital interaction with our world that is already the new normal for many, and something that any self-individual, writers included, needs to keep up on.

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Apparently I’m Huge in the UK

I was putting together various e-commerce links for the Rust tab up there.  While linking to the Kindle edition on Amazon UK, I found this:

#4 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Crime, Thrillers & Mystery > Thrillers > Technothrillers
#5 in Books > Crime, Thrillers & Mystery > Technothrillers

Holy crap, when I discovered it yesterday it was 12 and 22.  I love you too, UK!

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Capclave Prep

Doing the final preps for Capclave 2010, and I’m excited about going.  As seen in my Week of Action post (and editing that almost made me forget to post this) I’m hoping to go there with the first three chapters of Capsule cleaned up a little.  Do I expect someone to ask for them?  No.  Do I want to be ready in the off chance someone does?  Hell yeah.  Now, I did have an initial plan to have the first three chapters available on a thumb drive “what, you’d like to read them, well I just happen to have them here…”  However (1) that struck me as a little smarmy, (2) it struck me that no one was going to say “I’ll read your first three chapters but only if you can give me them RIGHT NOW!” and (3) I’d kinda like to do one more quick editing pass if someone does ask for them.

What I will be traveling with are cards I’ve printed up with a small ad for Rust, including a pointer over to Smashwords and a short-term coupon.  That’s part of what’s great about Smashwords, it’s nice to be able to offer an exclusive Capclave price.  Cause people like things when they’re cheaper.  Suggestion: Avery #8869.  They’re “print to the edge” cards, with “clean edges”.  What that means is each card is set off from every other card, so you can make your graphic a little large than the card to make sure it fills as thoroughly as possible.  And the clean edges really do pop out as advertised and don’t look like they got torn out of a perforated sheet.  Add in a color printer and I think they really look sharp.

I’m happy with the cards, and I’m looking forward to going.

This post cross-posted with Unleaded – Fuel for Writers

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