Book videos

Sheila Clover-EnglishBook Vid Lit

by Sheila Clover-English

Sheila Clover English, the CEO of Circle of Seven Productions, is a pioneer in book video production, marketing and distribution for authors and publishers.

There are many ways to do marketing and promotions but I want to focus on two:  influence and authority

Influence marketing happens when you promote yourself indirectly. You influence someone with your style, your behavior and how much they like you.  It is “personality” promotion. You are so well liked or respected that people want to be like you or associated with you in some way. That means buying what you recommend because they believe in and/or like you.

Authority marketing happens more directly. There are people out there looking for what you are selling but they can’t buy it if they don’t know it exists. Or they may not know they need it unless you can convince them they need it. So you advertise to let people know about your book, and give them all the information they need to make a purchase. Or at least link to that information within your ad.

Here are examples of each type of marketing used to promote the same book. 

Influence Marketing

This could be a blog or Facebook note.

“When I wrote this book I was going through a very difficult time. I researched for months both in resources and in my heart before I ever touched pen to paper. My sister died of breast cancer and I wanted anyone reading my book that is going through the same thing to know they are not alone. Someone is here who understands.”

Notice that at no time was there a direct sale of the book.  Nothing in the blog says “Buy my book”. What it does though is create a personality and an environment around the book’s theme. You feel connected to this person because they are willing to share something of themselves. This invites comments. It invites us to care and to want to be involved with the author of the blog.

Authority Marketing

authorityMy Sister is Dying and the World Keeps Turning takes the reader inside the final stages of death for living sister, the one who will be left behind.

A true story of love, faith and acceptance with a forward by renown psychologist Dr. Emen Touchstone, author of Final Stages, Final Goodbyes: Hospice For Survivors.

Note the differences in the two styles of marketing. With the second blog we get more of a commercial feel. We know exactly what the name of the book is. We see that a doctor with a well-known background in the field is involved with the book. This doesn’t invite questions as openly or as intimately as the first blog. There isn’t a question that a book is being promoted in the second blog.

Which is the best way to promote a book?

There is a time and a place for everything. If you have a blog, website or profile on MySpace, Bebo, Facebook, etc. and you use that to promote yourself or your work, then you are an authority there and can use Authority Marketing in that space.

If you are in an online community which you use primarily as a social platform, you should use Influence Marketing as your promotional strategy.

How do I know which to use?

Here are the questions you should ask yourself to determine which strategy is best fo you: 

  • What is the expectation of the readership of this profile/blog?
  • Why are they there?
  • Why do they think YOU are there?

You need to be honest in whatever it is you are doing. If you are there to pitch your work that’s fine. Just be sure people know that.  If you are there to make friends and be social, you can let people know you will be releasing information about your work occasionally. Then you have established why you are there and what you are doing. Everyone knows what to expect.

But, if you act like you are there to socialize and make friends and all you do is promote yourself you are setting yourself up for trouble.  Think of it like a spam e-mail:  your subject line says “I’m here to make friends!” but your content is all about making a sale.

If visitors know you are going to sell something and they still come to your site then they are interested in what you have to sell. It is acceptable to use an authoritative marketing tool to communicate with them. The expectation is set. There is no trickery or subterfuge. They can still trust you because you are doing what you said you would be doing.

A great book on this subject is Trust Agents by Chris Brogran and Julien Smith ( that can help you better understand the need for building trust online and strategies for doing that. If you are marketing online I highly recommend this book.

Which is better to help sell my books?

With all the hype about online marketing and social media technology, it is easy to overlook the most important element of marketing:  what does my audience want?

Know your readers.  Take the time to research your audience.  Ask yourself these questions:

  • How will they benefit from your book?
  • What would inspire word-of-mouth about your book? 
  • How do they like to be communicated to?

From those answers you should be able to identify whether to use Influence Marketing or Authority Marketing.  Or a combination of the two – e.g. use Authority Marketing on your website and Influence Marketing on your social profile. Just remember to let people know what to expect wherever they “meet” you online.

We are an accumulation of our words and deeds.   How do your readers see you?

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Sheila Clover-EnglishBook Vid Lit

by Sheila Clover-English

Sheila Clover English, the CEO of Circle of Seven Productions, is a pioneer in book video production, marketing and distribution for authors and publishers.

A couple of weeks ago I attended a film festival where several book trailers were played on a movie theater screen. Sitting in the dark, popcorn in hand, surrounded by others in the audience, I realized that the way I felt about the videos on the movie screen was different than how I responded watching them online.   Though the content was identical, my experience of the videos was quite different when delivered on different platforms.

The fact is that different platforms come with different expectations from the audience. Mobile phone platforms feel suited best to short form video of 10, 15 or 30 seconds. Yes, people will accept longer videos, but only if the videos are chosen by the viewer through a venue such as YouTube or some similar site on which the viewer knows longer forms reside.

movie on iPhoneMy daughter downloaded the movie Boltto her iPod and she has watched it several times.  But she chose that long form to put on her portable device.  iPods and the iPod Touch are platforms where people can play entire movies, so a longer video is acceptable.

We are experimenting with video on portable devices.  Circle of Seven Productions (COS) offers video on mobile devices such as smart phones and iPhones and any other mobile phone device that allows for video. In addition we have video on the iPod, iPod Touch, PSP and even the Wii.  Again the feel of watching a video on each of those platforms can vary.

Watching the videos play on the large movie theater screen as though they were real movie trailers was thrilling. Even more thrilling was observing the audience around me as they watched them. The videos that appealed most to this audience were those that were acted out. True “book trailers.”  Priest of Blood, Lady of Serpents and One With the Shadowscaused quite a stir among the viewers. This particular crowd was there to watch independent films at a festival. The trailers were part of the festival, so there was a lot of audience chatter after each video played. The quality was incredible and so were the CGI effects. But that was expected on the big screen.

turbulent sea book trailerOnline video play has evolved and viewers have their own expectations, but again venues matter. YouTube videos can play up to 2 minutes without a general audience complaining about the length; as long as it is entertaining. MySpace is a little more tolerant of long form video as well, but Facebook is faster paced and the preference seems to go to shorter video.  Also, venues that are specific to readers want shorter videos unless the book is written by a celebrity author. The bigger the author’s name, the longer their video can be. Christine Feehan’s video for Turbulent Sea, which runs 2 minutes and has tens of thousands of views across the internet is an example of this. According to the analytics provided by YouTube the viewers watched the video all the way to the end.

If the video goes up as an ad it should be created as 10, 15 or 30 second spots according to the platform. For social media that is not specifically a reader site, 90 seconds is ideal. People on social sites want to feel that you are entertaining them, not advertising to them, so you have to be creative and you have to give them a little more for their time and attention.

We have taken a single video and cut it into several lengths for different platforms. One book trailer was cut into a 15 second then a 30 second video for online and television advertising, then a one minute spot for reader sites and a 2 minute spot for social sites. It seems like a lot of extra steps, but being more thoughtful of the delivery of your video and how the receiver/viewer reacts or interacts with the video can mean the difference between a sale or no-sale, entertained or annoyed.

Technology is ever-evolving and the end user continues to evolve in their expectations as well. Video is still hot, but it needs to be delivered to the venue and in the form most appropriate for the intended audience.

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Digital billboards may soon become the latest way to market books.  They are essentially like large TV screens that can be programmed to rotate video ads according to schedule.   Advertisers are generally billed based on the impressions they are likely to garner in a particular location.  They have been around for a number of years and have been shown to have more impact than their static, print based cousins.  So it is only natural that publishers are starting to experiment with this new advertising venue. 

According to the Southern Review of Books, from March 3 to 31, a trailer promoting the novel by Thomas Fitzsimmons entitled City of Fire (Forge Books) was shown on digital billboards operated by Adspace Networks in 105 malls in New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Houston and 35 other cities. Each mall has between four and 29 screens, for a total of 1,389, and the trailer runs a dozen times per hour on every screen.

digital billboards in mallMall advertising lets publishers bring their message in the form of a live action 15-second video right where people are and ready to spend. City of Fire is the story of Michael Beckett, a veteran cop in the Bronx, N.Y., who seeks to apprehend the person responsible for a string of arson fires. Fitzsimmons’ thriller is a mass market original. Forge is working with bookstores located in the participating malls to promote City of Fire, which went on sale March 3 with front-of-store visibility and floor display placements.

City of Fie book trailer

However, publishers may not want to be selective about putting book trailers on digital billboards.  Outdoor billboards have been shown to be highly effective at capturing the attention of drivers.  So effective in fact that a number of communities – e.g. Los Angeles – are now weighing ordinances to ban digital billboards because they represent a threat to highway safety.  Indoors, however, they could represent a whole new way to spur readers to purchase popular titles.

digital billboard outdoorThe jury is still out on how this will affect the overall sales of Fitzsimmons’ book;  so far, he says on a post on an Amazon community, his retail sales are good.  But in the future, digital billboards, like transit based video, could provide extra joice for book sales.  As digital billboards and signs replace their non-digital counterparts, it opens up an unlimited marketing venue for book trailers which comes with a ready made set of well understood consumer demographics.

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Sheila Clover-EnglishBook Vid Lit

by Sheila Clover-English

Sheila Clover English, the CEO of Circle of Seven Productions, is a pioneer in book video production, marketing and distribution for authors and publishers.

There is much debate in the advertising and marketing world about the future of online video as an ad medium. More and more dollars are moving into online advertising; but the pace has slowed somewhat and television is still dominates ad spending.  Just as it took time for marketers to understand and establish a model for television advertising, it will take some time for them to fully “grok” the potential of online video.

Traditional media deals mostly with impressions; exposure of an audience to a message.  Mesuring the effectiveness of those messages in getting consumers to take action has always been difficult, time consuming and expensive.  Even the impression numbers themselves are only estimates based on statistical analysis. 

family-around-tvLet’s say you book television advertising in San Francisco.  The agency or media planner you’re working with tells you there are tens of thousands of people in the area who might see that ad.  Yet no one knows for sure how many people in San Francisco actually own television sets. No one knows how many people in San Francisco watch the channel your ad is running on at the exact time it runs. So, playing the odds, you book several ads over a length of time that you hope will catch the majority of those potential viewers. You feel good about it because those numbers are high and you did your best to expose your message to as many people as possible.  You hope you got good ROI. Maybe you did something to measure the ROI like having someone call a certain number, go to a URL or something similar.  In this world, potential = hope.

This is in stark contrast to the action based numbers that online metrics yield. Take online video actual viewership numbers dor example. For a given video, you can easily measure how many people watched it, how long they watched it, whether they shared it and how they shared it.   So why wouldn’t marketers immediately jump on the online video bandwagon?  Part of the answer is the newness of the medium and how to talk to audiences in this new space.  There is also a certain amount of fear that traditional marketers have with this new, highly measurable ad medium. 

  • Online video metrics don’t have the same aura of mystery as the Nielsen ratings.  No need for pricey third party intermediaries – you can run the numbers yourself.  You can skip past impressions and get right to exact measures of viewership and audience behavior. You know what people did with your ad. And this can be one of the fear factors for marketers used to the “blurriness” of traditional media metrics.  Your client or boss can immediately see the results of your campaign and hold you accountable for those results. 
  • Another fear that marketers have about online video is that your content is then put in the hands of others. You don’t control it. It could show up on a blog that talks about how terrible it is. You’re taking a chance when you release a video onto the internet. 
  • And finally there is the fear related to the transparency of video viewership. Because you can see those numbers on social sites, people can often extrapolate as to how the video is doing overall, or on those sites where you cannot see the view count.

nielsen-tv-internet-convergence-panelAnother important question whose answer will determine the future of ad spend is:  Are  television ads getting more “hits” than online video?  Some box-top television devices are starting to measure whether or not people are watching television ads. Once those numbers have been accumulated and dissected marketers will have a better sense of the true effectiveness of television advertising. With DVRs and TIVO, view on demand and online video it is hard to say how those numbers will turn out. 

Owners of television content are beginning to hedge their bets by migrating their programming online to immensely popular sites like  The situation mirrors what happens with films.  Television broadcast is the primary venue and still largest source of revenue for producers and likely to remain so for some time.  The online video sites become a source of residual, continuing income after the fact.  As online video continues to climb in popularity and utilization, marketers will need to regularly reevaluate which is the primary venue for their ad dollars.

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Sheila Clover-EnglishBook Vid Lit

by Sheila Clover-English

Sheila Clover English, the CEO of Circle of Seven Productions, is a pioneer in book video production, marketing and distribution for authors and publishers.

Can out-of-home markets be the secret to stimulating books sales? 

Scarborough Research, for one, thinks so.  According to its website Scarborough Research “measures the lifestyles, shopping patterns, media behaviors, and demographics of American consumers locally, regionally, and nationally. Scarborough consumer insights are used by marketers and media professionals to develop successful programs that maximize return on marketing and sales investments.”  When Scarborough researched the buying patterns of the of commuters for one of its clients – Transit TV – it found something that might not be a surprise to publishers; commuters read.

transittv-logo_mediumTransit Television Network, headquartered in Orlando, Florida, is the largest out-of-home digital network and provides information, entertainment and advertising to transit riders across North America.  Transit TVhas flat screen televisions on its buses in five major cities; Los Angeles, Chicago, Atlanta, Orlando and Milwaukee. According to the company, 46% of its riders are aged 18-34 and 55% are female. But what percentage of commuters are buying books and where are they going to buy them?  That’s what Scarborough Research asked and we’ll review those findings in a moment.

Other than its statistical significance, there are a variety of reasons why the publishing world should take note of this information:

  • Favorable demographics – an audience of readers in major cities
  • A captive, repeat audience
  • High audience recall of the material shown

The Transit TV audience is preconditioned to accept book video as both content and purchase suggestions since they have been watching book trailers since 2008. Circle of Seven (COS) Productions signed a contract with Transit TV in March of 2008 to deliver book trailers as content. The relationship between the two companies started with a simple email from me, inviting Transit TV to look at some of our videos on YouTube.  I saw the Transit TV logo on the OVAB site and recalled seeing that on ExpandedBooks’ website. I knew there must be interest in book content.  And COS offers something different than ExpandedBooks so I thought I’d contact Transit TV and see what they thought of our content.  

 Jeff Hartlieb,Director, Content and Production at Transit TV, was excited by the audience reaction to the book trailers.  “I saw the significance of the Book Trailer segments and when riders started asking where they could purchase the books, I knew we had hit a home run”  Hartlieb went on to say, “The content is highly visual and well suited to Transit TV’s environment which is one of the major reasons it has done so well on our system”

cos_screen2Once book trailers began to play on Transit TV there was a brief period of adjustment where commuters would see a book trailer and had to understand what it was. Our book videos are meant to be entertaining; we don’t like overt advertising.  To reinforce the impression of entertainment (vs. advertisement), we created “bumpers.”  These are video segments at the beginning and end of a book trailer.  The bumper at the start of the book trailer is designed to tell commuters they are learning about a particular book genres.  The end bumper encourages them to read. 

We were contracted to provide content, not ads.  By creating a pre and post video that encourages the experience of reading, then putting our trailers between those bumpers as examples of what someone might read, we are able to treat our book videos are entertainment, not ads. 

The downside of being a content provider instead of an advertiser is that we don’t have the metrics or analytics that advertisers get. We know we will get 10 million impressions for each video, but we don’t get specifics and we don’t get to request particular spots or dates like an advertiser would.  The videos play within the month we submit them. Because the videos are taken as content and because of the lack of analytics we don’t charge clients for placement on Transit TV.  We do, however, charge a nominal fee for formatting and processing so it doesn’t absorb incidental costs related to the program.

The Transit TV venue has significant benefits, however.  For example, a 51% average advertising recall which is an amazing statistic, and one we have seen in action.  Consider the case of author Thora Gabriel. “I was excited when I opened my email to see that I had gotten a fan letter from someone who saw my trailer on the bus!” she told us.  The commuter was so enticed by the trailer that he noted the URL of the author and emailed her when he got to a computer. “Being quite a fan of various fantasy books and such, I was intrigued by the “trailer” for the book currently being shown on Los Angeles MTA bus monitors,” he wrote in his e-mail.  He recalled the book, the author and the URL after getting off the bus.   He was inspired enough to take action. That’s what all promotion is suppose to do.

Another important factor –  89% have a favorable opinion of Transit TV so the majority of people watching appreciate the content.  With so many people on advertisement overload, discovering a venue where the audience is happy to watch the material is itself a positive outcomes for advertisers.  Authors are excited about getting this additional exposure as well as the fact that it inspires action. “I’m getting more and more fan mail from people who saw my trailer on the transit bus!” say author Christine Feehan.

Scarborough Research learned interesting facts about Transit TV commuters. They did an index that compares the overall population of the city to those on taking the transit system. The index works by examining the concentration of a certain type of consumer compared with the overall city.

For example, in Milwaukee, there is a 22% greater concentration of people who purchase books online who are taking the transit system and watching Transit TV. The concentration of readers/commuters purchasing books online in Chicago is 12%. That means that you can find a 12% concentration of book buyers on the bus compared to the metro population index. The down and dirty of these stats tells us that a high concentration of book buyers are riding the transit system.

Where are these book buyers going to purchase their books?  The research shows not everyone buys online.  In Los Angeles, Milwaukee and Chicago, Waldenbooks was the preferred bookseller for commuters who watched Transit TV.  But, in Atlanta it is B. Dalton where the majority of commuters purchased their books.  Other stores where book buyers shopped included Wal-Mart, Barnes & Noble, Half Price Books and then online at Amazon.

city-bus1In summary, there is a high concentration of book buyers taking the transit bus system who are spending significant and repeat time on the bus, watching Transit TV.  These book buyers are now attuned to book video that plays several times throughout each day, informing them of new books and reminding them of the entertainment of reading.

It’s only a matter of time before one of the booksellers will find a way to utilize this venue and drive foot traffic to their own stores.  They will benefit from multiple books being presented to these readers that they aren’t having to pay for. It will just be a matter of driving that traffic to a central or “preferred” point of sale.

Readers benefit from having this information given to them in an entertaining way, authors benefit from a book promotion venue that is targeted to a high concentration of book buyers and booksellers benefit from repeat messages telling people that reading is a major form of entertainment.  With bus ridership on the increase, it’s a rare win-win-win situation.

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Sheila Clover-EnglishBook Vid Lit

by Sheila Clover-English

Sheila Clover English, the CEO of Circle of Seven Productions, is a pioneer in book video production, marketing and distribution for authors and publishers.

frustrated-with-spam1According to Wikipedia, SPAM is the “abuse of electronic messaging systems to indiscriminately send unsolicited bulk messages.”  While the most widely recognized form of spam is e-mail spam, the term is applied to similar abuses in other media:

Now you can ad video to that long list.

 There are numerous companies that disseminate unsolicited messages in bulk.  But is it SPAM?  Let’s take a look at a couple of companies that are distributing a variety of videos that are commercial in nature. VidPow is a company that has set up its own platforms on sites such as YouTube, Vimeo, etc. VidPow has its own video servers that that you can upload files to, but the service it provides for distributing your videos is separate. 

When you take a look at VidPOw, you’ll note that there are insurance ads, attorney ads and “How to make money” ads there.  Is it SPAM?  Not really. Why?  Because they are not forcing the messages onto anyone. They aren’t sending it to people’s email boxes or even sending out bulletins.  But, your video would be among some ads that you might not want to be associated with.

As an experiment Circle of Seven Productions sent some of its book videos through VidPow.  They claim that they can get you top SEO placement if you use their service.  That was not the case with us.  Our own video distribution placed us high on SEO, because it was more relative to books. We did not get a lot of views there either. Those views would have to come organically, with people searching for the right term. VidPow does not cultivate an environment that invites greater views.  Still, it isn’t SPAM as defined by Wikipedia.  SPAM is sent to someone without that person asking for it.  VidPow’s system doesn’t work that way.  And for us, it simply doesn’t work.

Another company that more closely fits the SPAM definition is WideCircles.  When Wide Circles first started we tried them out.  They claimed to be thoughtful in their postings and we sent out an ad message that would be posted on appropriate classified ad sites, blogs, etc.  We would be given the list of where everything was posted so that we could follow up.  But, it didn’t work out the way we thought it would. Following up was cumbersome and the “appropriate” sites were questionable.  We received complaints, which we immediately addressed and apologized for, thus saving our brand reputation, but it was not a pleasant experience. We no longer use that service. And though they continue to evolve, WideCircles is still a bulk message delivery system, which falls into the SPAM category.

tubemogul-logoThe lesson is clear.  When someone claims to do distribution for you at a reasonable rate you want to check out their reputation and claims.  Over the last couple of years we’ve become more savvy in how we do that.  Our distribution is done via TubeMogul, using some software and manually. TubeMogul has an excellent reputation and we feel that our brand is protected there.  If TubeMogul finds video spammers they are locking them out. So, they are actively protecting my brand for me.  This is a company I highly recommend with confidence.

Sometimes you learn the hard way and you fall victim to companies with less integrity than what you want associated with your brand. You need to immediately take action when that happens. Do not continue to associate yourself with companies who SPAM. And because SPAM messaging can be lucrative, you need to continually monitor who you are associated with when it comes to distribution of your video.

Recently, started removing videos that were commercial in nature. That included book videos. We’d been with Spike for years, so when our videos started to be rejected we were concerned. Our distribution manager spoke with the team and devised a plan. We would send our distribution sites a formal letter. The letter told them who we are, that we are professional producers, what book trailers are and that we license all of our material. We offered to be audited on any of our projects. answered our letter via email last week. They had reviewed our claims, our business and our videos. They agreed that book trailers were similar in nature to movie trailers, thus making them a form of entertainment. They gave us a PRO account at no cost and offered to upload the rejected videos for us.  Now we are on file at and have a PRO account that allows us to distribute to that site without fear of rejection. It created a deeper relationship with the site and brought us to their attention. Currently, all of our sites are being sent a similar letter. We are being pro-active, protecting our brand, our platforms and our videos.

Some sites will see commercial videos as SPAM.  For those sites, book videos can fall under that category, so it is imperative that we communicate effectively to keep those platforms open for the publishing industry. If a site allows movie trailers, they most likely will allow book trailers. They just need to know what a book trailer is.

Video SPAM is going to be a hot topic in 2009.  Protect your brand.  Don’t let it be labeled as SPAM.  Be cautious about who you allow to distribute your videos and understand how they are accomplishing that distribution. Video brands have become increasingly important to social networking sites. Reputation and brand for videos and video distribution will be a serious consideration when creating book videos in the future.

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blank-online-video-screenAuthors have one more tool they can use to build community around their work – the video blog.  A video blog (also called a vlog) is essentially a blog that uses video vs. text as its primary way to communicate.  According to Wikipedia, video blogs have been around in one form or another since 2003.  Today there are thousands of video blogs.  For authors, video blogs offer yet more way to connect with their audience. 

Many authors are already using book trailers as a visual medium to communicate the message of their book and perhaps offer a little bit of their own background.  However, book trailers are limited in the goals they are trying to serve.  Book trailers are aimed at getting potential readers interested in a title.  They are typically 1.5 – 3 minutes in length.  This makes them an effective promotional tool, but not a good way for readers to get an in depth understanding of the author.

videoheadA video blog on the other hand is something that is ongoing.  It provides a recurring engagement with the audience.  While it makes sense to keep any given video blog short (probably 3 – 5 minutes tops), the author can address a variety of topics across multiple video blog posts.  The visual presence of the author provides a stronger impact and a keener sense of his / her personality and temperament. 

Some publishers are already encouraging their authors to experiment with video blogs.  Koldcast is an online video channel that publishes book trailers and video blogs from Doubleday’s authors.  AuthorCams offers another use of author video.  It showcases a variety of author video book tours readings through three author news networks—PubBuzz (fiction and non-fiction), CooksRead (cookbooks) and KidsRead (children and young adult books). 

video-camSetting up a video blog is straightforward and inexpensive or free tools abound to help authors wanting to explore this new avenue of outreach.  For a good list of video blogging resources and tips, check out Christina Laun’s post

Happy vlogging!

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