I mentioned in my post last week, Musical Connections, I used Danse Macabre by Camille Saint Saens as the theme to my book trailer for From Light to Dark and Back Again.
For that particular trailer, Chapeltown Books, my publisher, produced it but for Tripping the Flash Fantastic, I made the trailer myself.
Book Trailers for From Light to Dark and Back Again and Tripping The Flash Fantastic
So what changed in the three years between my first book coming out and my second one seeing the light of day?
Partly technology. My old PC was replaced. (I had worn out the keyboard. You can always tell a writer’s keyboard. We wear old the letters “e”, “t”, “r” and “s” to name just a few of the more popular letters long before anyone else!).
With my new PC, I had more memory, faster processing abilities and so on. When working with story videos and audio files, you do need a reasonable amount of memory for these and well, when all is said and done, my old PC simply wasn’t up to that kind of work.
My current PC is but so much has changed over the last five years in computing abilities it has made all kinds of things possible that were pipe dreams only a few years ago. Nor do you have to spend an unreasonable amount of money to do it. My PC is not top of the range (nor do I wish it to be) but neither is it one of the basic models and this middle ground suits me well.
Also software. There are a range of programs you can use to help you create your book trailers – I use Book Brush. Other writers I know use Canva. Then Windows has its own movie maker using their Photos program (which I’ve occasionally used). I’m sure you can think of others (and do share via the comments!).
And then there’s Youtube. Anyone can upload their videos. I’ve found it has paid me to set up my own channel just as it has paid me to have my own Facebook pages (one as a general author page and the other as a book page and I specifically share flash fiction advice on that one).
Having a distinctive feel for your social media outlets, while making it easy for people to find you online, is crucial and I use the same author photo across all of my outlets. It’s a simple link but it works.
Thinking Laterally and Marketing
Also in writing for CFT as regularly as I do, I’ve learned how to think laterally when it comes to picking images from Pixabay as suitable illustrations for what I write. That in turn has helped me to work out what would go well with the stories and trailers I want to share.
I’ve also learned a fair bit about marketing in the three years between my first book being published and the second one coming out in 2020. This has been a combination of what I’ve discovered and what writing friends have found has helped them.
One of the things I love most about the writing community is that most writers are very generous with help and advice. I’ve had cause to be grateful for that many times and I hope the posts I share give some of that help and advice back to people. I hope this one will too but also prove to be a behind the scenes look at certain aspects of the writing life.
The most important thing any writer does is write obviously but we all need to develop a marketing side to let people know about our books. We also need to find ways of doing that by entertaining and engaging with potential readers. It’s not all about the hard sell. You want to draw people in and then and only then will they look into your books and hopefully go on to buy them.
So put all of that together and…?
Learning to Use Creativity in Different Ways and with Tools to Suit
You learn to be creative with the marketing that you do, as well as with the stories you write. One of my most recent developments is to regularly create story videos which I upload to Youtube (and usually add on a free-to-use audio track from Youtube’s extensive library. Sometimes I come across a track which needs attributing to the creator. I’ve not used those as yet but may well end up doing so. It is the same thing as attributing the images I use to Pixabay when I write my CFT posts. They don’t require it but I consider it good manners and I am happy to advertise them. They are a useful resource).
I sometimes write one and two line flash fiction tales, which I have used on my Facebook and Twitter posts. They do work well and they act, I hope, as a draw for people to find out more about what I write. (That in turn should lead them to my website and my Amazon Author Central page).
But I have found the story videos work even better for this kind of mini-story because the visual and audio elements draw people in more obviously than just a text based post.
Pixabay and Book Brush
I must thank our Janet for putting me on to Pixabay. I use their images here, on my website, and for other blogs I write for and they are a marvellous resource. But often the topics I write about do not lend themselves to “easy to find” pictures so I have to think around the theme to find something I can use which has an obvious link.
Book Brush is a fairly recent discovery thanks to going to a free seminar Wendy H.Jones flagged up to me. (Yet another reason for developing writing friends – you really do find out useful information from others and, in turn, can give out useful information yourself).
I use Book Brush to create my story videos using their Custom Creator which has a video function on it. I then add in a text box, paste in my story, put in effects if I want to (I don’t always use these), and I then upload to Youtube.
You can schedule your posts here as well as on Facebook etc., so I set my stories to appear a day or two after upload to give me enough time to explore Youtube’s audio library. I tend to stick to classical music for my stories partly because that is my big love musically but also it so often fits my story theme the best. For me, it is the ultimate in mood music.
Every writer has to work out what social media outlets suit them best. Every publisher and agent expects authors to have some kind of social media presence and a website is deemed essential. It’s important to keep your website up to date and feed it with new material regularly to continue to attract visitors to your site.
I’ve found having story videos and different kinds of material to put on here to be immensely helpful for how my website looks. (And also check out what Richard Hardie has done with his Authors Reach website). All of this behind the scenes work helps to keep the readers’ interest and will hopefully draw new readers in.
You can’t measure or anticipate what will be the “success” rate here but I do know you do have to have a reasonable presence “out there”. I’ve learned to see marketing as different ways of engaging with potential readers and I try to make it fun.
If I enjoy putting new material out there, and I do, I hope others will enjoy reading it and will want to know more. I do know if I have nothing out there, there is nothing to draw people in with.
So behind the scenes then, most writers are busy with not just creating new works, editing and so on, but this kind of thing too.
The difficult thing to get right is balancing how much time you spend creating new material and how much time you market. There is no one definitive answer to that. I look at my writing time over the course of a week and as long as I have roughly spent half of my time writing and the rest doing various things to help promote that writing, I’m happy.
Read blog posts by Allison Symes published on Chandler’s Ford Today.
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