Watching and Waiting: Book Trailers and How They Help You

If you’ve been following book promotion and marketing trends on the Internet, then you know that one popular way that authors resort to is releasing book trailers. Book trailers are essentially what it says on the tin: short clips that capture the gist of a book, the visual version of the wordy blurb you’d see on the back of books. Or, yes, like trailers for movies.

Book trailers, as Marisol Dahl says in her article for The Write Life, may depict different things. You, as the author, might be talking about your book, for instance. Or a scene from a book is depicted visually – whether through animation, or a series of illustrations. What is important is that the book trailer accomplishes what it’s meant to accomplish: communicate what your book is about, and communicate it in such a way that your viewer would want to read it. It’s a good way to publicize your work, and if done well, could very well be one of the causes of your book getting spikes in sales.

Of course, making book trailers are attractive — but they’re also not quite easy. There are a lot of book trailers, especially given how social media and video streaming sites like YouTube are very accessible to the public. It can be difficult to get your trailer to stand out. So a professionally-designed, well-crafted book trailer would certainly gain the advantage – but it may also cost a significant amount of cash, depending on who you are and who you hire for your video.

So what am I really saying here? Should you or should you not have a book trailer produced? As with many other questions an up-and-coming author should be concerned with, the answer is not exactly black-and-white. Instead of asking that question, what we can ask is, “what exactly are the benefits of making book trailers?” Once we gather answers for that, then you can decide.

There are certainly a lot of benefits that can come from making book trailers. In this article for The Creative Penn, Joanna Penn asks Book Frenzy Studios’ Jerome McLain why video plays an important part in marketing your book. And the reasons that McLain gives are great ones: video is shareable and can be shared on different social media accounts; video is cost-effective, and; video’s popularity ensures that a lot of people will be able to see your book trailer, which may, in the process, garner you new fans. One excellent reason that McLain points out, however, is what the book trailer can do for the relationship between author and (potential) reader:

Video can foster deeper connections between authors and their readers by increasing the KLT (Know, Like, Trust) Factor which is critical to book sales.

Book trailers can give the readers an idea of who the author is, making the author not just someone who wrote the book, but someone with whom the readers can connect to. Needless to say, the article itself is worth reading in its entirety (it has data showing you how book trailers can boost sales), and highly informative.

The possible benefits of putting out book trailers has been outlined, and can be summed up with one idea: trailers lead to exposure, which leads to more readers.

Of course, the benefits are there. But actually making a good book trailer is another issue. One doesn’t even have to stray too far from common, everyday examples. Take movie trailers – they’re everywhere, aired on television, sitting down your social media newsfeed, popping up on the “Recommended” section of video streaming sites. People become the judge of whether a trailer is good or bad – and often this manifests itself in whether or not individuals actually go out and watch a movie because they thought the trailer was good. Whether or not the movie itself is actually good is something else. What matters is that the trailer essentially sold the movie.

It’s not so different, with book trailers. Good book trailers can convince readers to buy your book. But, as Marisol Dahl again points out, there are reasons why book trailers may not be the best option. Beyond potentially costing a lot in terms of how it is produced – especially if you want a good book trailer – there’s the risk of producing a not-so-good one. And, as Dahl says:

A poorly made book trailer sticks out. It can damage the image of both you and the book, and it can hurt sales.

Because they’re so memorable, book trailers that miss the mark can turn into painfully public marketing failures.

So the formula sounds simple enough: make a good book trailer and leave a positive, lasting impression on your readers. Make a not-so-good one, and risk hurting your book’s sales.

This is, after it all, much easier said than done. Marketing books can always present risks, and the book trailer is just another dimension. Done well and done right, it can help.

So, back to the first question: should you, or should you not, make a book trailer? As you can see, we still haven’t arrived at a definite answer — only you can arrive at that. It will be helpful to ask other authors who have already marketed their books with the use of book trailers, or ask those who specialize in book marketing for advice. You can also do some research as well – find book trailers that you think are good, and take down notes, see what you can glean from them, and have a set of pointers for when you believe you’re finally ready to get your trailer made.

So, with all that’s said and done — happy book trailer making!

A Few Relevant (and Possibly Helpful) Links:

  • The link’s already way up there, but just in case you missed it, you can check out BookFrenzy Studioswhich specializes in e-mail and video marketing for authors.
  • Arielle Ford’s article “Why Make A Book Trailer” on The Huffington Post offers tips and notes on what makes a good book trailer – definitely something worth checking out.
  • Finally, if you’re getting started on looking at examples of good book trailers, this article by Shirin Najafi for The Rumpus rounds up a couple of great book trailer examples. You might want to take notes.

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Blog Roundup: Get the Write Help Now!

It’s always a good idea to look for places on the Internet that could offer some (or, let’s face it, a lot) of writing tips, but sometimes it’s not always easy to know where the good ones are. Not that they’re hidden or are few and far between, but that there are just so many blogs that cater to different writing and writers’ needs, to begin with. This post collects some of the blogs we’ve come across on the Internet, tackling different things from character development to general resources for writers. Hopefully these links will help you on your writing!

  1. The Writing Box – run by author Angeline Trevena, The Writing Box reblogs a lot of diagrams from grammar and vocabulary help, to popular authors’ writing tips for other writers. There’s a lot of writing advice that The Writing Box reblogs (most notably reblogs of posts that give word lists to help writers avoid such words as “very”), and they’re very helpful regardless of what your genre is or what kind of writer you are. Angeline Trevena also has a WordPress blog that caters to writers of speculative fiction, so if you’re a spec fic writer, you can check that out, too.
  2. The Writers Helpers  – The Writers Helpers primarily accepts questions on just about anything in writing, from general questions like plot concerns, to more specific ones like creating descriptions for LGBTQA+ characters. It’s basically a detailed, helpful Q&A for any writer needing help with their writing.
  3. FYCD – FYCD is a blog dedicated to discussing concerns and asking questions about character development and writing. What’s great is that they supply legitimately helpful resources to those who ask about how to write certain kinds of characters, as well as technical details on some topics like medicine, whenever it’s relevant to someone’s question on character development. They reblog stuff too – from world-building to drawing how-to’s, so it’s not all limited to character development. They also have a helpful page directing you to all the discussion threads in their blog, as well as book recommendations on writing characters.
  4. pen > sword – This blog is a wonderful mix of amusing art, quick writing tips and templates, and writing- and literature-related trivia. There are a lot of resources that can be found here, and will give you a smile as much as it will give you help.

That’s all for this round-up! There’s definitely a whole lot more than these four sites, and we’ll be sure to write about them more when we do another round-up, but even with these four sites alone, you’ll hopefully be able to find a world of writing help. Definitely don’t hesitate to ask or drop these sites’ admins if you ever need help.

Know more great websites for writers? Drop us a line!

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What It Takes to Write

It goes without saying that the world today has achieved the level of technological advancement that allows us to do virtually anything at a pace that people long ago, perhaps, had only dreamed of. While we are, of course, already in the year 2015, and flying cars are nowhere to be seen, it’s still impressive to think about how much civilization has managed to achieve in the span of a few decades. To put things into perspective: about eight years ago, memory sticks that had 1GB were already big. Today, we have sticks with around 32GB of space. 1GB is not enough for most of us.

But of course, the march of technology – and the purported advance of civilization towards the future, with this march – is also terrifying, as much as it is fascinating and exciting. Everything is wired and seen, people know when you read the messages they send you, and if you are ignoring these messages. New crimes spring from new technology. New pastimes and preoccupations, as well. The point is, everything’s fast, and there’s a burgeoning, active, pulsing culture that capitalizes on the visual and the piecemeal. In short, the world’s spinning too fast, and while the machines have no problem keeping up, the people do.

Now, let me share a quote from one of my favorite authors, the late, great, science fiction/transgressive fiction writer J.G. Ballard:

I would sum up my fear about the future in one word: boring. And that’s my one fear: that everything has happened; nothing exciting or new or interesting is ever going to happen again… the future is just going to be a vast, conforming suburb of the soul.

– J.G. Ballard

Doesn’t that sound rather unnerving? Does our day and age, our considerably modern time period, embody what Ballard had prophesied back in the 80s? Think about it. If you spend your day running in routines, talking about the same shows, the same things, the same books, the same jobs, over and over, and thinking the same thoughts as everyone else, wouldn’t that hit Ballard’s mark? Our culture’s fast, our technology is fast, all-seeing, virtually godlike if you knew how to manipulate it. Anything – or anyone – that can’t conform to the standards set by our ‘futuristic’ society will sink into obscurity.

So what does this have to do with writing?

We’re living in a world where eye-popping visuals are the order of the day. We’re living in a world where ease is valuable, where comfort and convenience are things that are supposed to make people feel happy. We’re living in a world where a lot of people are finding it hard to find their place, trying to catch up. This places writing – the process of, and the writers themselves – in a tenuous position. An interstice, if you will. Writing has always been a very valuable skill, and ages ago, very few people knew how to read and write. When you get to read and write, you’re literate. But today, a lot of people know how to do this, and it’s almost being taken for granted. Meanwhile, we are bombarded with material that strives for originality and freshness in execution, but everything can be boiled down to general skeletons that embody general plots. It doesn’t matter if it’s the television or what. Take away the special effect of movies and you’re left with the plot to work with. It’s certainly easy to get lost in virtual culture and the visual realities presented to us.

Now, what does it take to be a writer in the modern age, considering that writers occupy an uncertain position? And how relevant is writing? Following Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight saga is Fifty Shades of Grey, which started out as Twilight fanfiction. It seems anyone can just churn out underdeveloped fiction and become bestsellers. And people flock to this.

It’s interesting, because people are starting to read a lot, but while the readership is there, there’s an important ingredient missing: thought. Substance. A collective consciousness thinking of the same shallow thing stagnates a society that ought to be marching forward. And sure, books become bestsellers, and sell enough and the writers themselves get paid nicely, but if satisfying readers’ whims is all the writer does, then the writer is escaping a very important responsibility. That is, to enrich readers intellectually, perhaps spiritually, morally, and socially.

Again, what does it take to be a writer, in the modern age?

One, awareness. Writing substantial content is not an exercise that can be done with only half the mind working. Likewise, writing substantial content cannot be done if the writer exists in his or her own bubble, shut off from the world and suspended in his or her own consciousness. To be able to write something moving means to know what makes people’s hearts and minds run. What genuinely moves them. What genuinely terrifies them, and what genuinely opens their eyes.

Two, patience. Especially today, everything’s going really fast, and people favor a lot of cut-up “fast food” material running their way. But writing cannot be “fast.” Whatever you write assuredly won’t be perfect the first try, because that’s not how things work. That is, if you even manage to finish what you’ve been writing. It takes a lot of patience to write. It’s not a walk in the part.

Three, discipline. It’s easy to throw off your routine, it’s easy to dismiss and forget the purpose of writing. But if you want to write, and if you want to write good, you have to develop your discipline, and master yourself.

Finally, four, courage. The writer should already be aware, and if that is a given, it’s very valuable for a writer to be able to expose what he or she is aware of, in such a way that potential readers will be able to accept, understand, and digest. Reality shifts a lot, and it’s true especially nowadays. It’s true, when you move from the middle-class area to the slums. It’s true, when you see how corruption seeps into the daily workings of your office. It’s true in a lot of aspects, but it’s easy to forget that reality changes, and there is no absolute reality. And so the writer’s job is to re-shape that reality, and expose the many threads of reality to people.

That’s what it takes to write, I think. And it certainly sounds like a challenge. Writers meet all kinds of people, and many of them may prove resistant to new or unnerving ideas. But that is what it means to be a writer in the modern age, yes? That’s what it means, to be a writer, period. To challenge and unsettle, to shape and reshape realities, to disorient and reorient, because a writer’s purpose is to make people think, and expose the truths people are afraid to look at.

I’m ending this post with another quote from Ballard, and hope you take it into heart:

I admired anyone who could unsettle people.
– J.G. Ballard

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Writing Under the Influence Done Right

Would you rather we have a drink first before we get started? I usually don’t mind but today, thank you, I’m good. We need to be clear about the terms related to drinking alcohol, the different states that a person enters in connection with how much he drinks, as well as the frequency of the intake.


* Buzzed – When you say you are a little buzzed, it means you have just begun the process of entering an alcoholic beverage into your system. You can’t really feel the drink’s effect yet.

* Tipsy – This is a state of being slightly drunk.

* Inebriated/Intoxicated – If drunkenness was cancer, this would be stage three.

* Wasted – The point of no return. No really, when you get wasted, it will be too late to slow down or take it easy on the shots.


An experiment was conducted to find out if there is a link between alcohol and creativity. Bryony Kimmings is a performance artist who agreed to be the lab rat for the experiment. She voluntarily requested for this research to be done in order to get answers on whether alcohol has any adverse effect on her ability to create or make art. Cameras were set up around her studio so that the experts observing her can keep close supervision. Surprisingly, while under the influence, she was able to compose music, write sketches, choreographed dances, and even read academic papers. She did more than they expected. The whole thing lasted for seven days. When the week was over, she was made to watch the footage and she had to fuse everything together into a show. When she performed the pieces, she was completely sober but was acting drunk, or being in the same state when she wrote them. That being said, it follows that because she behaved like a drunk person while performing, she also felt the same exhaustion after the show as a drunk person would. The analysis of the experts is a mix of good news and bad news for artists who are alcoholics. They say that although the false confidence one can get from alcohol can be helpful for creativity, it has a cut-off point. Many song-writing  artists actually rely on alcohol to give them a boost in creating pieces, but they live by the ‘write drunk, perform sober’ principle to avoid the relapse.


In the case of literature writers or non-performing writers, let’s just say there are those who drink to come up with something more interesting than they usually write  while sober. There are those who are alcoholics because they love drinking alcohol, without the habit being associated to their profession as writers. These people are very good at their craft. Coincidentally, they are just as good at putting away the contents of a bottle up to the very last drop. In fact, your favorite writer could be among the Top 15 Great Alcoholic Writers! You could say that drinking has helped them write, or endure the life of a writer, but what do they have in common? Most of them died from poor health related to the complications of alcoholism. Ernest Hemingway, known for being one of the strongest influences of twentieth-century fiction, committed suicide as a result of depression and mental illness, both which stemmed from alcoholism.


One could easily say that there is no relevance to alcohol and creativity if you take into consideration that there are also great writers who were not alcoholics. A few of them are Nathaniel Hawthorne, Mark Twain, Emily Dickinson, Ralph Waldo Emerson, William Golding, and many more. Writers are writers because they are capable of reproducing while adding compelling factors to what already is, as well as illustrating things beyond reality. Whether they drink or not, this is how they are. They write.


In my opinion, alcohol does wonders for your creativity. You only have to keep the drinking moderate to avoid the health risks. Keep it under the third state. I tried writing while wasted once. I can barely spell some words, and not one sentence made sense.


About that drink… It’s only Monday but… Vodka?

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