Sheila Clover English is a bibliophile of the old school. “There will always be those of us who love to go to our local bookstore,” she admits, “touch the pages, read the back copy, and enjoy the unique smell of coffee and books.” Yet her company, Circle of Seven Productions, exists in new media territory requiring constant and not always cautious exploration.
As book publishers wrestle with the transition to electronic content distribution and rights management, book video trailers, which already inhabit the digital domain, could be inclined to converge with book content. When asked if she could foresee a day when ebooks opened with a few minutes of trailers for other titles, English laughed in dismay:
I can’t imagine readers putting up with forced commercials. Trailers are meant to tempt readers, not irritate them. So, let’s hope they never have ebooks open with book videos. Of course, I’m an avid reader, so my opinion may be biased.
Perhaps because English and her production crews focus intently on capturing the essence of a story and its characters for the fans of genre fiction, she sees video advertisements for books as an independent form of entertainment. Is it possible for book video trailers to provoke online discussions that once were fueled only by doughnuts, coffee, and rows of office cubicles or bottomless piles of laundry? English is counting on it:
Book videos give the publishing industry a medium in which they can connect with potential readers. In the past, only movies, TV, music and video games could reach people who like visual ads and entertainment. Now, books can compete with those other entertainment industries.
The internet has evolved so much in terms of technology and ease of use. More and more people turn on the computer instead of the TV anymore, and that trend is only going to increase. The importance of book video as a promotional tool will only grow as time goes on.
English believes book videos can convert viewers—even those who don’t typically buy books—into readers. “You have to really reel them in,” she argued, “to get them to pick up a book.” Those elusive readers are the customers she wants to help her clients win. According to English’s theory:
Traditional readers are the ones most likely to use the back cover blurb, an excerpt or reviews to choose a book. They are established readers. They don’t need a video to get them to pick up a book. Although, many will watch them to see what’s coming up. And, to them, some videos are really just announcements that the book is out. The reader will buy it regardless.
Non-traditional readers are those who usually watch TV, go to the movies, play video games and spend far too much time downloading to their iPod.
With more and more competition for the entertainment dollar, the publishing industry must expand their thinking beyond traditional advertising and marketing. The main focus of industry marketing needs to be expanded to encompass more than just a limited set of known factors (i.e., traditional readers). As an industry, we must reach beyond what is our known demographic and into the unknown. We must evolve to create and nurture new readers.
Get them while they’re young! But, in order to do so, you must speak to them via a medium to which they have grown accustomed. That medium is a visual one. Games, movies, and special effects are all becoming bigger and better with each passing year across every segment of the entertainment industry. How is the publishing industry supposed to compete with that?
Now, there is a tool that utilizes this, the most popular medium, and it is being used to sell books.
Whether or not you like them, or even use them, if book videos bring in more new readers, aren’t they a wonderful tool?
It’s a substantial question that can’t easily be answered. Authors develop ardent fans, but how many readers become passionate about book characters that have not first been brought to life in a visual medium?
When commissioning a COS Productions Book Trailer, authors sometimes choose the actors who portray the characters they created. “Often authors want to use cover models for their videos,” English explained, “so we accommodate that request.”
In some cases, COS provides an acting coach on set. Usually, the company relies on agencies and in-house talent when casting a video, said its CEO, adding:
COS is a network made up of production companies, online distribution specialists, and online marketing specialists. We often partner with agencies or companies if we feel they can enhance our client’s experience, offer discounts to our clients, allow for greater video utilization or help grow our outreach for marketing.
Betraying no superciliousness, the five-year veteran publicist announced, “We’re always open to suggestions and recommendations!”
Has COS Productions ever been asked to adapt an entire novella to video? Without a second thought, English replied, “No, but that would be fun!”
Tomorrow, as a guest blogger here at Treated & Released, Sheila Clover English will explain in greater detail why authors come to COS Productions for a form of publicity that increases their name recognition and their fan base.