Book Trailers: A Response

I was reading Kaitlin’s post about book trailers and thought I’d pitch in my own opinion, even though it’s a bit off-topic.  In her post, she made a list of pros and cons about book trailers, trying to decide whether they were “cool or hokey.”

A book trailer is a promotional tool for authors or publishers to get people excited and talking about the book.  As Kaitlin asks in her post, are they cool or hokey?

Here’s my vote: the well-done ones are cool.

Essentially all the book trailers I’ve seen – not trailers for books-into-movies, which are a totally different category altogether – have been for young adult novels.  And, quite honestly, I’ve loved most of them.  Book trailers for YA work always look and feel different from adult books – plus, their very nature makes them more accessible to their audiences.

Most people who read young adults are (gasp!) actual teenagers, and most actual teenagers use the internet.  So do most of the slightly-post-teenage college set, who frequently read young adult work as well.  Book trailers work well for these audiences in particular because they could stumble across the video at any time.

Trailers do an excellent job engaging audiences in a way other forms of media can’t.  Try, for example, this 30-second trailer for the re-release of the Artemis Fowl series:

The trailer uses an animated style and the narrations to emulate the style of the book.  For example, the character designs match that of the new re-release it’s promoting.  The narrative, which serves as a summary of the story, captures the same narrative style of the books.  The trailer follows a good rule of thumb for book trailers: what you see is what you get.

Many publishers and authors use book trailers to promote new titles.  My personal favorite book trailer is for Shooting Stars by Allison Rushby.  You can find the trailer on her website.  The animated style and the music do a great job setting the tone of the book, and as a reader I found it very engaging.

In the end, book trailers can only engage audiences if they are done well and match the style and tone of the book.  If the style and tone don’t match, then the author, publisher, or PR professional has wasted their time and energy to produce something sub-par and irrelevant.

Quick PR for Non-Public Figures

So you’ve done something really cool.

Maybe you’ve won an award or a fellowship. Or, if you’re like most of my readers, you’ve written a book that’s finally going to be published. These things happen once in a while, and when they do, you want to tell the world about them.

…maybe not the entire world, but at least people who might be interested.  So what do you do?  Since I work in PR, I’ll give you a few hints about what might be a good idea to try.

Write a press release or make a press kit

A press release is a sheet designed for the media to give editors and reporters a brief overview of the story and answer one basic question: “What’s the news?”

If you don’t know how to write a press release – though a simple Google search will do you well in that matter – you can always hire a freelance writer to write your press kit for you. I freelance a bit myself – I specialize in press kits/releases – and if you’d like to know more, you can reach me at felizacasano [at] gmail [dot] com. If you’d like to deal with someone local, you can always check to find someone near you.

As for a press kit, there are several components you may want to include, depending on your achievement. Here are a few suggestions:

  • A photo of you receiving or holding the award
  • A press release or announcement from the presenting organization
  • A headshot (print-quality photo of your face)

You can include other items as well.  Feel free to e-mail me at the address above or comment below if you’d like some suggestions or ideas for your press kit.

Contact local news media

Once you have a press release or press kit – depending on which is appropriate for your story – you may want to consider contacting your local news media. This may include daily newspapers, weekly or biweekly newspapers, even local radio and television news stations.

Before you contact the news media, do your research. The head of the sports desk isn’t going to care about your horticultural award, and the arts & life music beat writer isn’t going to care about your college soccer team alumni achievement award.

Whatever you’re trying to contact them about, you need to figure out who on the staff would be most interested and why, then tailor your cover letter or press release to them. Remember that you’re trying to make it simple and convenient for the media to talk about you and your achievement, and that includes getting it to the right person on the first try.

Contact bloggers

If you blog pretty frequently enough – or if you read and interact with specific blogs regularly – you may be interested in contacting bloggers. In that case, you won’t need a press release – a simple e-mail would suffice. You can just drop them a line saying “Hey, I’m a regular reader and I thought you might like to know I achieved X, which I thought might be relevant.”

If you contact a blogger, you can always offer to write them a guest post. In your bio, you could include “winner of X award” or “author of Y, available at Amazon/your indie bookstore/etc.” I personally really appreciate guest posts, as long as they’re related to what’s on my blog – as do many other bloggers.

Contact your alma mater

Another great way to promote your achievements is to contact your alma mater: your high school and any/all colleges you attended, no matter what education you received there. Many colleges have public relations departments you may be interested in contacting.

As with news media, do your research first. You may want to check with your college on their website to see if they have a media relations specialist or something similar. Be respectful, as usual, and make sure to give the PR person any information they might need to share your achievements.

Not all of these fast fixes will work for everyone.  However, you can go through the list and use it to decide what would be best to showcase yourself and your achievements. What tips were most helpful for you?

UTWG sponsoring Poetry in the Park

The University of Toledo Writer’s Guild is sponsoring a poetry reading and social event called Poetry in the Park Friday, September 23 at Wildwood Metropark.

The brown-bag event is free and open to all University students.

At the event, students are invited to bring at least one poem to read: either a poem they wrote or a poem by their favorite author.

Poetry in the Park will take place at 5 p.m.   Interested students can meet the group in the Student Union South Lounge between 4 and 4:30 p.m. to carpool over.  On-campus students who do not have cars are encouraged to meet UTWG officers there.

Attending students do not need to bring a poem, particularly students not registered as UTWG members, but are certainly encouraged to do so.

To learn more about the event, contact UTWG vice president Feliza Casano at feliza [dot] casano [at] rockets [dot] utoledo [dot] edu.

More information:

The University of Toledo Writer’s Guild is a student organization of the University of Toledo dedicated to helping students develop their writing, network with others with similar interests, and provide new opportunities for student writers.