Friday, November 23, 2012

Book Trailers: Do Authors Get Enough Bang for Their Buck?

Because book trailers are becoming a popular online marketing tool, I thought it was time I did a study of what was going on in this phase of book promotion. First, a trailer has to be a part of the total book package. You must keep that in mind as we proceed.

I reviewed 50 trailers, some from the HBS Author’s Spotlight group and some from high-profile authors. That should give us a good cross-section of the development of this relatively new process.

Are they worth the time and money? What did I see and hear that made a good book trailer? It must be noted at this point, the following are my opinions and hopefully some helpful observations.

Plan your Trip
Before you go down this trail, you must plan where you want to end. As you’ll find out, it is more detailed than you would image.

The first major decision to make is how I am going to produce the trailer? Am I going to do it myself or outsource it to a professional? Cost is the primary question in this decision I would guess. As you’ll see in this blog, there are some real good trailers created at a very reasonable cost.

Start of the trailer
Most start with a storyboard in which they create a scene list and match script text alongside each picture or slide. For example, the majority of trailers in my review start with the book cover or a slide with the Title and Author displayed. You may think that is elementary but there were several that didn’t give you that information until well into the video.

How does it sound?
This is important to the effectiveness of the trailer. The music and sound should fit your vision of your book. The sound includes music, voice, singing and special effects. Here are some observations.

Some trailers had great mood music which fit right into the story line. Some had singing in the background. A couple started off with strong music right up front which was a great attention getter.

There was one that was streaming along at a steady pace then out of the blue there was a loud gun shot. That got your attention. Several had cry outs, screams, eerie sounds and even the sound of arrows whizzing through the air.

Two observations: if you are going to use voice over for your slides, use a professional or not at all.
International Best Selling author Stacy Eaton, had one of the best music selections. It fit the mood of her book completely.

Stacy said, “I love making video trailers!!! They are so much fun! I use Windows Live Movie Maker and it is really easy.

I know that many people use music they have in their own libraries, but you have to be careful about copyright infringements.

Some people think video trailers are good, some don’t. It’s a personal taste, just like how one reader will like one book, but not another.” Check Stacy’s Book Trailer: Whether I'll Live or Die

Another author in the review was Joanna Penn. She is an action-adventure writer plus she is an expert in the book writing, marketing and publishing industry. Her trailer starts with strong music which immediately gets your attention. Check Joanna’s Book Trailer: Pentecost. An ARKANE Thriller

I have to include Monica Mathis-Stowe in this section. Her combination of pictures and music sets the tone for a very impressive trailer. If this doesn’t get the reader’s attention nothing will. One of the eye catching items of her book package was the girls from the cover. The music she used in the trailer fits right into a complete package.

Monica said, “The (trailers) were created by DzinebyKellie.  Kellie saw my vision and made it come true. I gave (Kellie) my book’s synopsis and she created this wonderful book trailer. I was amazed.” Check Monica’s Book Trailer: Where Did We Go Wrong?

You have a lot of choices here. You can take them yourself; you can get pictures of models for your cast of characters or you can buy stock images. One author had her readers/followers supply drawn images which she included in her trailer. Talking about getting your readers involved in the process. I like that a lot.

Several had police radio calls or displayed newspaper articles which I thought was quite effective. I even saw silhouettes used which conveyed the message while leaving the character's appearance up to the reader’s imaginations.

I think it is all about the pictures. You need to get readers involved with sight and sound.

Mystery author Dave Folsom takes the pictures used in his trailers himself. Several of his books are based in the northwest and he captures the rugged setting in the trailer. The reader can truly visualize the surroundings.

Dave said, “I used One True Media where you can upload your own photos and create videos for a very reasonable price.” Check Dave’s Book Trailer: Scaling Tall Timber

Next I would like to highlight Young Adult Author Elise Stokes. Her picture presentation was unique. She had her text on the side of the pictures, giving the reader a real shot at reading the message. Her trailer’s pictures were all hand drawn.

Elise said, “Seeing my characters as these talented young artists do, and I’m honored they were inspired to draw them. I had the satisfaction of doing it myself.” Check Elise’s Book Trailer: Cassidy Jones and Vulcan's Gift

Next we have Crime and Horror Author Jade Varden. She uses a newspaper in the front of the trailer to convey a story is coming. Also her use of video clips was great.

Jade said, “I got the video clips for my trailers at Creative Commons, because that material is all Fair Use. I put it all together using Windows Live Movie Maker.” Check Jade’s Book Trailer: The Tower (Deck of Lies, #2)

Slide presentations
Using slides in your trailer is all about the timing. You must give the reader enough time to read and digest your message.

Historical Fiction Author Ron Fritsch spent time on his sequencing. He has one part of his trailer that uses arrows flashing across the screen with sound. You get the message right away. It also finishes with a picture of the author, which I recommend. Check Ron’s Book Trailer: Promised Valley

Distribution of the trailer
Well by far the favorite way to display a trailer is YouTube. There are many other free locations and I would recommend distributing your trailer to as many places as you can.

My favorite is to embed the trailer on a page on your blog or website. It gives you the ability to add extra information on the sides of the trailer. Even links that may be skipped by the reader during the trailer viewing.

A great example of this is from award-winning Author Melissa Foster. She embedded her trailer on her website. It gives her the opportunity to give static information to the reader that maybe overlooked in the trailer like contact information and where the reader can buy the book.

Melissa said, “I love to make book trailers. I buy stock photos off of different image sites like Shutterstock, I download music from free music sites, and I use Movie Maker or Animoto.” Check Melissa’s Book Trailer: Megan's Way

I have to include myself in here somewhere. (James Moushon) I chose to distribute the trailer both ways. I put my trailer on YouTube and then embedded it on my website. I had a problem with the website version at first with MAC users not being able to view the video. Then I discovered that I could embed the YouTube code into my web page and I was off and running.

I like the web page version the best because it lets me have an Amazon buy page next to the trailer so my readers can buy right away without leaving the page. I like the expanded screen option. Check my Book Trailer: Black Mountain Secrets

So where does the Text fit in?
First of all the text should be a teaser for the reader not a spoiler. I guess that is common sense. The first advice I got was to choose my words wisely. They should be captivating, relevant and concise. I spent a lot of time on this.

Here are some tips. Don’t use rolling text unless you can slow the feed so the viewer can read it. If you’re going to use text over your pictures, choose your text colors wisely. If you have more than two lines, use a solid colored background like white or black or red not a picture.

One trailer I liked had the text in a colored insert rather than right on top of the background picture.

Cost or Budget or whatever you want to call it.
You can do this for almost nothing or you can spend some real money. You must remember to count in the value of your time when you make the decision.

Amazon Best-Selling Author Cheryl Bradshaw put it this way in a previous interview in the HBS Author’s Spotlight. “The kind I’d want to do would be very high dollar and look more like a movie trailer. I am fairly unimpressed with the low-budget trailers.”

One side bar to this is that as you’ll find out below, some of the big hitters are not impressive with their trailers. I think if you have a following and its presented well, you’ll get your monies worth.

How long should your trailer be?
I don’t have a good answer for this one. Of the fifty trailers I reviewed, 18 seconds was the shortest. It was by a big time author. He gave us a cover, his name, blurb from a review and the buy now message. That was it.

The longest was 5 minutes and 33 seconds. Again this trailer was from a big time author. Yes I did manage to stay awake. But I felt like dosing off at the 3 minute mark.

I would say a minute to two and half minutes gives you plenty of time to get your message across. This is a marketing tool not a movie streamer.

Creation time should be a consideration
The question you have to ask yourself is: Am I creative enough and have the skills to do this myself or do I need help? Remember if you can’t get your readers to visualize what your selling here you should outsource the project or move on.

Best-Selling Author Pamela Burford said in a recent Author’s Spotlight post, “I find it too easy to spend enormous amounts of time on promotion, at the expense of writing time.”

At the end of trailer
The last slide should be timed to allow the reader to consume the information. Typically the last two slides include Coming soon announcements, contact information, the author’s picture or the cover. You know like the back cover type information.

I am not a big fan of Internet addresses or trailer credits at the end, especially the rolling text kind. I guess that’s why I like the embedded version of the trailer. Remember YouTube goes directly to an advertising page when your trailer is done, so that last page is gone unless you can extend the viewing time.

So what is your Goal if you decide to go down this trail?
It is all about marketing. You want the prospect to watch the trailer and want to buy it as soon as possible. Make sure to put links to your trailer everywhere. Then you need to get readers to watch it. The trailer should be a part of your complete book marketing package, together with a well-done trailer. Sometimes not doing a trailer is an okay decision.

Dani Amore, an award-winning, international bestselling crime author, said recently, “I have done book trailers and have no idea if they helped or not.”

Mystery & Thriller Author Maree Ward Russell expressed it differently. “They are yet another avenue for attracting readers – especially as the visual medium is always so effective. I am looking into it.”

Award winning author Dawn Greenfield Ireland echoed the same thing. “A book trailer is high on my list.”

So now did the Big Authors do in my review?
I was very proud of my Spotlight Authors compared to some of the top authors. Let me summarize what I found.

The top authors had most of their trailers under one minute. Most had poor music or none at all.
They had professional voice over when it was used. They did have strong music but very poor timing on the slides vs. text.

One had kids acting with very poor sound and a misspelled word. I won’t release that trailer.
They basically were selling their self and not necessarily the book.

I must include this. One of our top indie authors (not a Spotlight author) had the poorest trailer in the survey. The trailer was 29 seconds long. It consisted of the author holding the book up in front of a camera and yelling “Buy me” over and over again.

Things like this are why indie authors and self-publishers get a bad rap.

What do you think?
Is there a pay back? Is it worth the time and money? did you read anything here that will help you create your next trailer? I know I did.

Other documents

Follow me:
Or EMAIL at:
Or visit my blog: The eBook Author Corner
Take a look at my Author’s blog: HBS Author’s Spotlight

Check out the Jonathon Stone Mystery Novels:

Or newly released:
Black Mountain Secrets

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Book Author: An Interview with Melissa Foster

Today I have an excerpt of a recent interview with award-winning author Melissa Foster. She is the author of three International bestselling novels and the founder of the World Literary Café, Fostering Success and the social and support network for women, the Women’s Nest.

Author Genre: Literature & Fiction, Mystery & Thrillers

Website: Melissa Foster
Author's Blog: Melissa Foster Blog
Blog: The Womens Nest
Twitter: @Melissa_Foster
Goodreads: Check Out Goodreads
Facebook: Check Out Facebook
Pinterest: Check Out Pinterest

Author Description: Award-winning, bestselling author Melissa Foster is a touchstone for the indie publishing community and a tireless advocate for women. She is the founder of the World Literary Café, Fostering Success, and The Women’s Nest , as well as a Community Builder for the Alliance of Independent Authors . Melissa writes emotionally-driven contemporary fiction and suspense with passionate characters that remain with the reader long after they’ve read the last words. Melissa is a friend, mentor, brownie connoisseur, and book fiend.

Melissa hosts an annual Aspiring Authors contest for children, she's written for Calgary's Child Magazine and Women Business Owners Magazine, and has painted and donated several murals to The Hospital for Sick Children in Washington, DC. Melissa lives in Maryland with her family. Melissa's interests include her family, reading, writing, painting, friends, helping women see the positive side of life, and visiting Cape Cod.

SPOTLIGHT Questions and Answers with the Author

The word is out that you have two novels coming soon, TRACES OF KARA and WHERE PETALS FALL. When can we expect to be able to get our hands on a copy? Give us a teaser on the plot of each of them?

Coming SOON is the word. Here is a sneak preview to whet your appetite.


Kara Knight can't wait to leave her hometown for the promise of nursing school and a fresh start on her future--leaving behind an over protective mother, a broken heart and painful memories. However, twenty-five miles away, the brother she doesn't know is determined to be reunited with the sister he cannot forget.

Kara is abducted and thrown into her obsessive captor's delusional world. As the past she thought she knew unravels around her, Kara struggles to make sense of the memories that come creeping back, threatening her sanity and her safety. Meanwhile, Kara's mother races against time to save the daughter she fears she will lose when a long-held secret is revealed. The hours tick away as Roland plays out his plan--to take Kara with him into death at the exact moment of their birth, never to be separated again.

TRACES OF KARA is an action packed, pulse pounding psychological thriller/suspense novel that features a determined killer who slowly loses his grip on reality as his carefully detailed plan starts to fall apart and a heroine determined to move forward with her life who now must reconcile everything she believed to be true about her family with the reality of their tragic past.


On the surface Junie Olson’s life looks idyllic, from her handsome husband and beautiful daughter to her successful business, the bakery she always dreamed of opening. But in the past few months her world has slowly unraveled. Her precocious child is withdrawing, showing unexplainable signs of emotional regression, a condition that frays the bonds of Junie’s once impenetrable marriage. When her father dies suddenly of a heart attack, Junie packs up her daughter and goes home to help her mother. Her homecoming stirs up memories of the nightmare she thought she had put behind her, the disappearance of her childhood friend, Ellen. Haunted by recurring memories of what happened on that fateful day, Junie must gather the courage to revisit her past and untangle the secrets surrounding her missing friend, and the trauma that has caused her little girl to climb back into herself. As the pieces come together on the event that shook her small town, and at the risk of losing everyone she loves, Junie will question everything she thought she could rely on and everyone she thought she knew.

WHERE PETALS FALL is a gripping and emotional novel with an undercurrent of suspense, featuring a determined mother whose world slowly comes apart around her. Where Petals Fall will appeal to fans of Lisa Scottoline's Save Me or Jodi Picoult's Salem Falls, who love an emotional and gripping read. They will root for Junie as they follow her transition into an indomitable heroine who must reconcile what she discovers about her husband and family’s tragic past, and find a way to put the pieces of her family back together and carry on.

Social media appears to be a major part of your marketing with over 29K Twitter followers and an excess of 125K tweets. What is your goal in the on-line communications? How do you weed though all the noise? Do you use software to manage the through-put? How does social media fit into your marketing plan?

For me, social media has been a blessing. I'm a naturally gabby person, and I love to share what I've learned in publishing. Social media allows me to connect with readers across the world, and it's a great avenue for sharing writing related information with writers everywhere. But for me, social media has a more powerful impact on a more important aspect of what I like to share, which is inspiration for seeing the positive side of life, gentle reminds to care about others, and share your joy. To me, success doesn't bring happiness as well as helping others does, and social media has been a gift to me in that way.

As for weeding out the noise, I'm kind of a Twitter addict. You'll notice that I respond to each and every person who tweets to me, unless for some reason I don't see the tweet, which certainly happens, though not often. I don't pay any attention to those who tweet nastiness or drop the "f" bomb, in fact, I block them pretty quickly. There's not much room for negativity in my life. I prefer to surround myself with positive energy. But, there is a lot of valuable information being tweeted by many, and I learn something valuable on a daily basis.

As for my overall marketing plan, I don't think in terms of the typical marketer looking for sales. My life is about building relationships, and for that purpose, social media plays a big role into my life.

I am a firm believer that helping other authors succeed is a pay forward venture. You are involved with several high-profile writing groups. To pick one, how does an author get involved with the World Literary Café? What are the goals of the Café? Tell us about the Best Indie Book Festival?

I'm so happy to hear that you're a pay-it-forward believer! All of my endeavors are pay-it-forward driven. Readers, writers, bloggers, reviewers, and anyone interested in the literary field can join the World Literary Cafe (WLC).

Our goal is to unite the literary community, bring new-to-you authors to readers, and help author promote their work, while teaching them how to take control of their own success.

The educational arm of WLC is Fostering Success.. At Fostering Success, we offer affordable, effective, easy to understand courses for writers to learn everything from self-publishing and social media to branding, platform building, and book marketing.

WLC is run by a host of volunteers who keep the WLC running smoothly, help to educate authors, and bring our programs to life. Kudos goes out to
Stacy Eaton (plus her blog), Amy Manemann (plus her blog), Wendy L Young,
T.M. Souders (plus her blog), Christine Cunningham, G.E. Johnson,
Natasha Brown, (plus her blog - and the Chronicles), Rachelle Ayala (plus her blog - and another),
Emerald Barnes, Bonnie Trachtenberg, and Rhea Baugham.

I am very impressed with the group Indie Chicks which you are apart. It is an extraordinary group of ladies. I have had several authors already in the Author’s Spotlight. I had to include the group’s book in the list below. (Proceeds donated to a charitable organization that fights breast cancer.) How did you get involved with the group? What are the major benefits you personally have received working with the members?

I was blessed to be invited into the group by Cheryl Shireman, who coordinated the entire effort. These ladies are friends, mentors to many, and fabulous writers.

Time management appears to be one of your challenges with a large family, a great blog, your writing and marketing effort (Twitter included). How do you schedule your time to meet all the goals you must have? How does the family deal with you time constraints? How much traditional marketing do you do?

I am a panzer when it comes to things like outlining, but as far as my time management goes, I'm a total scheduler. I schedule everything from phone calls to picking up my children from school. I wrote an article on this topic that your readers might enjoy Time Management.
Each day I have a To-Do list that is prioritized to the nth degree. The list is reevaluated as the day demands, and like Nike says, I 'just do it'.

I have an incredibly supportive family who takes pride and joy in my efforts. They cheer me on and are more than happy to have dinner a bit later some nights, or do their own thing while I'm on a Skype meeting with a book club. I know how rare it is to be supported with something like writing, which many people deem a 'habit' (don't even get me started on that one…), and I'm truly blessed with supportive friends and family.

I'm not certain what you mean by 'traditional marketing', but marketing is a part of my day, every day. The way I see it, everywhere you go is a new chance to meet people, and the more you meet people and build relationships, the greater chance that you have that they'll eventually pick up your books.

My research shows you are a tireless advocate for women. How rewarding was it to put your feelings on paper with Megan's Way, battle of a single mother with cancer and how it affects her and the people around her? What is the background for this award-winning story? Where there people around you that shaped the characters?

MEGAN'S WAY is a very personal story that stemmed from a real-life issue with my mother. Megan's voice was so strong that I had to put down CHASING AMANDA, which I was writing at the time, to write MEGAN'S WAY.Some of the characters were definitely shaped around people that I know, though not all of them, and the ones that were are not direct images of their models. I think that as a writer, we take bits and pieces of those we know and see, and we weave them into new people--our characters.

You are a creative talent being a painter and a writer among others attributes. Moving between the two creative processes, writing and painting, is there a change of pace? Do you do one to get away from the other? Is there a high that you have to get off of?

I actually don't paint much anymore. I loved painting, but there's only so much time in the day, and I feel more connected with writing. That being said, there is definitely a change in pace. I found painting to be more relaxing, and writing, depending on the genre I'm writing at the time, sweeps me into the minds of the characters, who at times are killers, sleuths, distressed parents, or terrified children--and that's not relaxing at all, lol. The pace of writing is much faster. They offer two completely different types of enjoyment.

You have great trailers for all three books. What software did you use to create the trailers? The music sets the tone for each one. Can you tell us where you got the music and the pictures? You were able to combine still-pictures with video. Were the trailers self-created projects or did you outsource the production? (Give credit here.)

I love to make book trailers. What a joy it is to put faces to the characters. I generally buy stock photos off of different image sites like Shutterstock, I download music from free music sites, and I use Movie Maker or Animoto (they also offer music) to create the videos. I did mix still pictures with videos, which is quite easy using the above referenced tools. Thanks so much for your time.

Author's Book List
Chasing Amanda

Book Trailer: Chasing Amanda
Amazon Buy Page -- Barnes and Noble Buy Page
Come Back To Me
Book Trailer: Come Back To Me
Amazon Buy Page -- Barnes and Noble Buy Page
Megan's Way
What would you give up for the people you love?

Book Trailer: Megan's Way
Amazon Buy Page -- Barnes and Noble Buy Page -- Smashwords Buy Page
Indie Chicks: 25 Independent Women 25 Personal Stories
This exciting anthology contains stories from twenty-five women from different parts of the world. Their ages differ, as do their backgrounds and locations, but one thing they all have in common is a spirit of independence and a determination to not only succeed, but prevail. Whether their struggles are to maintain balance between motherhood and career, escape from an abusive relationship, or to step out in faith and pursue a dream, all of these women have forged their own path. As women, one of our most powerful "gifts" is the ability to encourage one another.

This book is an effort to encourage women across the world. These twenty-five women share stories that will make you laugh, inspire you, and maybe even make you cry. Their hope is that these stories will inspire YOUR independent spirit and allow you to live the life you were meant to live.

All proceeds from the sale of this book will be donated to a charitable organization that fights breast cancer.
Amazon Buy Page -- Barnes and Noble Buy Page
What do you Think?

How much do building relationships and social media play in your marketing plans?
Do you help other authors my offering advice and support?
How important are writer’s groups to your success?
Are book trailers an important part of your marketing effort?

HBSystems Publications
Publisher of ebooks, writing industry blogger and the sponsor of the HBS Author's Spotlight plus the blog: eBook Author's Corner. From the Melissa Foster - HBS Author’s Spotlight

Thursday, November 8, 2012

NEW Book Release: Black Mountain Secrets

IMMEDIATE NEW BOOK RELEASE               11/08/2012
At Amazon November 2012

Black Mountain Secrets
By James Moushon
A Jonathon Stone Mystery Novel

CIA Agent Jonathon Stone goes undercover to help in an FBI investigation after a fellow agent is murdered on the Colorado River.

Stone continues the agents' investigation of suspects who are stealing top-secret documents from a secret Army base in the middle of the Mohave Desert. The trail leads him from the rugged Black Mountains of Nevada to Laughlin, a gambling oasis on the Colorado.

As things heat up in this desert paradise, Stone dodges bullets and attempts on his life until he reaches the ultimate showdown. Jonathon Stone truly needs lady luck on his side to catch the spies and get through this ordeal alive.

Mystery Writer James Moushon brings to life Jonathon Stone, an undercover CIA agent assigned to the off the books CIA division - DOT.

He throws Stone right into the middle of the action. As each mystery unfolds, Stone uses his wealth of knowledge and keen analytical mind to complete his dangerous assignments, while at the same time battling his love for gambling and drinking and the ladies.

Book Cover

Book Information
By: James Moushon
Published By: HBSystems Publications
November 2012
ISBN: 978-1-4675-5401-5   ASIN: B00A0QDBKU

Copyright © 2012 by James Moushon
Genre: Fiction, Mystery

Rendered eBook
     This is a rendered eBook created for the Kindle eBook Platform. In the rendering process the author has added in-book links to information to assist the reader in the eBook experience. The in-book links do not require the wireless communication to be turned on.

About the Author

James Moushon

Born in Illinois, James Moushon is a published writer in the electronic document field.
Moushon is a graduate of Bradley University in Peoria, IL.
     Starting over 15 years ago, he helped lead the startup of the electronic forms industry in the creation, conversion and usage of electronic forms by supplying that industry with a continuing source of published literature, software products and training seminars.
     In 2003 Moushon moved his focus to ebooks and their development. 
Black Mountain Secrets is the second in the Jonathon Stone Mystery series. Call off the Dogs was his first in the series.

Black Mountain Secrets Book Trailer

Contact Information

Or EMAIL at:
Or visit my blog: The eBook Author Corner
Take a look at my Author’s blog: HBS Author’s Spotlight
Check out the Jonathon Stone Mystery Novel: Call Off The Dogs

The eBook Author’s Corner blog
This blog was created to assist eBook authors in writing and developing ebooks. The blog also discusses how the eBook author fits into the evolving eBook Industry.

The HBS Author’s Spotlight was created to highlight interesting authors in book industry. It features author’s bio, their contact information, an interesting Q/A session and a list of their books with brief descriptions.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Book Industry: An Interview with Expert Joanna Penn

Today I have an excerpt of a recent interview with industry expert and author Joanna Penn (J. F. Penn). She has one of the most popular blogs in the book writing, marketing and publishing industry. Joanna has written several business books highlighted below along with the Kindle bestselling ARKANE thrillers, Pentecost and Prophecy.

Author Genre: Action-Adventure Thriller

Author's Blog: The Creative Penn
Website: J. F. Penn, Ancient Mystery, Modern Thrill
Twitter: @thecreativepenn
LinkedIn: Check Out LinkedIn
Facebook: Check Out Facebook
Pinterest: Check Out Pinterest

Author Description: Joanna Penn is the author of the ARKANE thrillers, Pentecost and Prophecy. Read more at
Joanna is also an entrepreneur and professional speaker. Her site for writers has been voted one of the Top 10 sites for writers 2 years running and offers articles, audio and video on writing, publishing and book marketing. Connect with Joanna on twitter @thecreativepenn

Questions and Answers with the Author
We should start with the most important thing on the schedule. When will Exodus (ARKANE series #3) be released and can you give us a teaser about the plot?
Thanks for asking! Exodus is about the hunt for the Ark of the Covenant as the Middle East counts down to a religious war.

When a brutal murder in the Egyptian Museum of Antiquities draws Dr Morgan Sierra into the search for the Ark, it’s a race against time across Egypt, Ethiopia, Jordan and Israel to keep the holy artifact from the hands of fundamentalists.

Can the Ark really be found, and does it possess the fabled powers of destruction? Join Morgan in December 2012 for the next ARKANE adventure.

Do you enjoy writing fiction or non-fiction the best? Does it give you a change of pace working back and forth between the two?
I have one non-fiction book on career change, How To Love Your Job Or Find A New One, based on my years of hating my job as an IT consultant. I had to write that book in order to change my own life, and fiction came after that when I had found my creative streak.

I definitely prefer writing fiction now as it helps me to explore interesting topics in religion and psychology (my passions) while also making up a fun story across global locations (travel is another passion of mine!).

I do want to write more non-fiction but that will come later I think - maybe a travel memoir or another self-help book. So I mainly write non-fiction when I write blog posts and articles, which I don’t count as important as producing books in the genre.

I watched as you put your last book cover through the design process soliciting your reader’s help. Great idea. Did your audience enjoy that? Did that give you an added satisfaction in producing the finished product?
Yes, I got people on the blog to vote on the book cover for Pentecost. I put up several versions and had people choose which they preferred as well as leaving comments on other suggestions.

Interestingly enough, the overall consensus was not what I would have chosen myself, but I went with the wisdom of the crowd.

It helped me because I was able to find the best image for sales purposes but also it made people feel more involved and some of them went on to purchase the book. Now I have a certain look and feel, a particular font etc so I don’t do that process anymore for my ARKANE series, but I would definitely repeat the experience for a new series.

I follow your industry blog religiously and I am seeing a trend that other authors are writing quality stuff also. As a marketing tool, have you seen a boost in sales of your books by providing quality information on your author blog? How does your blog fit in to your marketing plans?
I started out blogging 4 years ago before I had even written fiction in order to share my lessons learned along the way. So for me, blogging wasn’t about selling my fiction, it was a means to become part of a community and help others. Back then, self-publishing wasn’t so popular but now, it’s gone mainstream and so my main blog at the picked up readers.

I think the trend for blogging and sharing right now really does stem from an honest desire to share and help others. It is the Wild West right now for indie authors so people are sharing what works, or what doesn’t and the feedback helps others. There’s an authentic community feeling amongst these indie blogs, and I love being part of that!

In terms of how blogging fits with marketing, I have a business as well as writing fiction. The Creative Penn is more about selling products and my services but I now have a fiction blog where I write articles based on my research for the novels.

However, mainly I see blogging for fiction more as a value add, not as a sales mechanism or for marketing. I write articles that my readers would enjoy, rather than trying to attract readers through blogging.

Living in the UK, how important is social media (almost 30K Twitter followers) to your marketing effort?
As a general question, I find social media brilliant for connecting with people, mainly my writing peers and people in the industry. I’m a public speaker so I get a lot of speaking engagements and business from social media. In terms of selling books, social is about getting attention in this noisy world and then having people follow back to your site and hopefully finding you interesting enough to join your email list. In that way, you can start having a relationship with them.

Here’s my breakdown of how social media can help sell books: Social Media blog
I don’t think social media has anything to do with where you live - and in fact, most of the people I network with are in the US. I tweet across timezones with scheduling so I appear in streams all over the world. I definitely love Twitter - so please connect with me there @thecreativepenn

I am in the middle of writing an industry blog on book trailers. I have to give you credit here. The blog I always go to as my base on this topic is the blog you wrote in 2008, ‘11 steps to make your own’. How did you create the trailer for Pentecost? The book trailer music is outstanding. Where did you get the sound and was it expensive to buy the license?
Basically, the process is this:
1) Plan your book trailer. It should be max 90 seconds really and make it capture people’s attention. Be catchy and use your shortened back blurb. You can plan voice over or just music with text on the screen. You will also need to decide on a budget because using stock video will cost you more than still images.

2) Source royalty free media, video, audio and images. It’s important that they are royalty free so you don’t pay per view/download. You can get this for free or you can buy it.
You’ll need to budget some time for this. It took me a couple of days to find the video, images and audio for my video. I used for video and images, and I used for my audio as they have a great search for movie styles.

3) Put it all together with editing software. You can use free software like MovieMaker on the PC or iMovie on the Mac, or I now use ScreenFlow on the Mac. This takes a while too as you have to cut everything with the music and add the text.

4) Distribute it. You can load it to YouTube, Vimeo and other video sites, but you may also want to put it on your blog, your Amazon Author Central page, and anywhere else. You can use it in guest posts and anywhere you like really!

Here’s the final product:
Book Trailer YouTube Video
and here’s the updated blog post with the full process:
How to Create a Book Trailer blog

However, I would say that although I enjoyed making the video trailer, it’s not something I think is critical in a marketing plan. I do a lot of videos on YouTube but they are more interviews/talking heads. It’s about building relationships over time and one, trailer-style video won’t do that.

Joanna's Book List
Pentecost. An ARKANE Thriller

Amazon Buy Page -- Barnes and Noble Buy Page
Prophecy. An ARKANE thriller

Amazon Buy Page -- Barnes and Noble Buy Page
How To Love Your Job Or Find A New One

Amazon Buy Page

Author 2.0 Blueprint
***** Free *****
Available at The Creative Penn, Joanna's website.
A Must Read for all beginning indie authors. ***

How to use Web 2.0 tools to write, publish, sell and promote your book using the Blueprint for your online author platform.



From Book to Market: Internet Marketing, Sales and Promotion. . .For Your Book

Amazon Buy Page
From Idea to Book: How To Write and Publish Your Book

Amazon Buy Page -- Smashwords Buy Page

How to Enjoy Your Job

Amazon Buy Page

What do you think of the idea of having your reader base involved in your cover design?
Do you think having a quality blog helps in developing relationships with fellow authors and readers?
Are book trailers an important part of your marketing effort?

If you have any questions about book trailers, Joanna is a great source of information. Her blog on trailers is a must read.

HBSystems Publications
Publisher of ebooks, writing industry blogger and the sponsor of the HBS Author's Spotlight plus the blog: eBook Author's Corner. From the Joanna Penn - HBS Author’s Spotlight