Friday, 9 February 2018

Designing and Making a Book Trailer

This is good fun to do, though time-consuming and actually more effective than you might imagine. It can be particularly useful in reawakening interest in your backlist. You can also do it completely for free.

The mechanics of it

I use the Movie Maker programme. However, this is now being discontinued so I'm starting to experiment with
You may find other software that you prefer for creating videos but what I say below still all applies.  

Approaches to the task

Your trailer really needs to represent your book. It should contain images, words, music and even short videos that capture the mood of the book. You might start with a front cover image. You should end with any acknowledgments and information about how to get the book.
Your trailer should never be more than two minutes long. Shorter is probably better.

Planning your trailer

The "story" will be somewhere between a blurb and an outline. It mustn't give the ending away. You should aim for twelve to twenty-four frames plus title slide and credits.


You might like to choose these before you choose the pictures.  Remember, there is not all that much room for text. Consider direct quotes from the text, titles of individual poems and stories in collections and plot points. Sometimes you come across a picture that suggests something else. This is fine. Be flexible            

A few words about pictures

These must be copyright free, the right size and preferably free of charge. You must really respect copyright. You could be sued for millions if you infringe someone's copyright.
Making your own or getting a friend or relation to paint or take photos will give you images that are free and copyright free. However, this may be time-consuming. A better alternative may be to use Pixa Bay:
Type a search term into the space, find your image, and click on the image you like. Your book / or story title can produce amazing results.
Once the image is open you can check the copyright. You really want to see the words "Free for commercial use. No attribution required ".
  Occasionally you are asked to acknowledge attribution. This is easy. In the credits you create a section "Images by" and list any attributions.
Next, download the image and save it to your computer. Often the smallest image is the one you need. In the case of one I've just looked at: the 640 x 427 is good.  The next one up may be a little too big, but often 750 X? is good.  Try your image out full-screen to see if the picture has enough definition. If you're not happy at how it looks you can always go back and grab a larger one.

A few words about music

The same copyright issues exist for music as they do for pictures- though if you're sued it may be for billions, which you'll not be able to pay, and you may end up with a custodial sentence.
Commissioning your own piece would be prohibitively expensive.
However there is the Free Music Archive:
This is a little more complex that Pixa Bay. You must go to "Curators" then "Music for Videos". You are presented with a search box and some filters. You should tick Creative Commons License, Attribution Only, Attribution-Share Alike, Public Domain, Allows for Commercial and Allows for remix or video.
If you have already made the rest of your trailer, you can also type in the length you want. 
Then type your book / story title into the search box. If you have no matches, try refining your words. You may have to search just by genre. I found this: by keeping all the filters mentioned above and just genre, "Classical". This has an Attribution License, so you must acknowledge the artist. It's easy – you put the name of the music, players and composer in the credits on your trailer. This is most often the case with music.   

What to do with your trailer

You should upload it or provide a link to where you have it on You Tube to all sorts of places where you flag up your book. You Tube anyway is one place where you should store your video.
Here are a few others place where you may embed it or link to it:
·         Your blog
·         Your author Facebook page
·         Your book's Facebook page
·         Twitter - even though it may not prompt your followers to buy your book it will annoy them less than a "Buy my book" Tweet. It may amuse them enough to become more interested in you in general or in particular you as a writer.
·         Your web site
·         Various other places where you may list your book:
o   Good reads
o   The Society of Authors
o   Linkedin
o   Amazon Author Central
And of course, put a link to your book in the description box on You Tube. 
In a subsequent chapter I'll talk about marketing routines and also social media routines. You may at that point want to create yourself a rather longer list.
Trailers do make a difference to sales. They also often remind people of your back list as well.  


Monday, 29 January 2018

Create a Facebook Page

I won't give instructions on how create a page as Facebook changes all the time. It's quite intuitive, actually, and if you visit your own page often you'll be able to take advantage of any new features. So here, I'll just leave a few tips.

First Decision

Do you want a separate page for every book, one about you as a writer or both? As you get more and more books out there, it can be difficult keeping up with multiple pages. Facebook always prompts you if you've not been there for a while, however. It unpublishes your page but you just have to post something to make it live again. This often forces you to find a new angle about your work.   
You might consider, for example, having one page for all of your short stories, all of your flash fiction and all of your poetry but separate pages for complete volumes such as novels and collections of short stories, flash fiction and poetry. 
Once you've decided, set about making your page as attractive as possible. Use as many pictures as you can.

Call to action

Always have a call to action. Normally, the action you want is that your readers buy your book. This isn't a hard sell. Your posts should interest your potential readers and your call to action, which Facebook displays at the top of your page, is a convenient way for your friends to find the book. It's easiest here to link to your book on Amazon.

What to post

You should let certainly let your fans know about any launches or other events. You can also think about:
·         When the book is on special offer
·         News to do with the book
·         News about events you've attended where your work has featured  – e.g. our celebration
·         Anything of interest to do with the research
·         Anything to do with any background issues in the book
·         Information about your writing process in producing this book  
·         If you're producing another book in the series, or a prequel or sequel, you might usefully talk about it here. Eventually you may want to produce a new page for the new work.
·         Use as many pictures as you can- as long as they're not copyrighted.

Life-time of the page

You may feel that you run out of things to say. However, I find that when I get that prompt from Facebook, I can usually find something and it keeps me in touch with my fans.
You always have the option of closing down your book page and redirecting your fans to your author page if it really does become too much.  

Wednesday, 17 January 2018

Our Celebration Events

We've now started holding these twice a year and we're now forced to look for bigger venues. Hopefully, this is a sign of success.
We try to find somewhere that will give us the space for free on the understanding that we will spend generously in the bar. Often we're asked to cover a minimum spend but that is normally easily met – a couple of drinks per person and a few snacks usually covers it.  

This is what happens at the event:

General mingling

You arrive. You get your drinks / food and generally chat to anyone. 

Cash Bar

London prices or Manchester prices. No pressure to spend. We seem naturally to cover that minimum spend. Sometimes it’s possible to order lunch in advance and have it waiting there for you as you arrive.    

Buying books

We sell all books produced this year at an advantageous rate. If you have author copies left over you want to sell, you can bring them along.

Speed dating

The bell rings every five minutes. I have a cute little brass bell I call Esmeralda. I ring it and you move on to the next person. You get to speak to as many people as possible. You can promote yourself to readers and swap tips with other writers. Bring your business cards / postcards / book marks to hand to other people.   

Latest news from us

We tell you about what's new. At the December event in London we also announce the theme of next year's annual anthology. Delegates to the event may also share their news though this has to be prearranged with us.    

Author Readings

Authors read for up to five minutes each, depending on how many want to read. It needn't be from work represented here. 

Charity collection

We make a collection for a charity. Sometimes we produce a charity book. In that case, our choice of charity is obvious.

Big book swap

We ask everyone to bring along a book to swap. You get to take one home at the end of the afternoon. You can bring along one of your previous titles or just a book you have enjoyed reading. Your non-writing friends of course may bring along a book they have enjoyed.    


Reviews are so important for authors that we hope everyone will review any books they take home with them. 

Sunday, 7 January 2018

A Different Way of Lauching Anthologies

It may be quite difficult to persuade people to come to a launch / event if you have just one short story in an anthology with around twenty other people. You may be able to do this if you have a back list but it can still be tricky.
Here are a couple of suggestions as to what you may try.  

Combine with other writers in your area

Find out who lives locally to you and combine with them to organize a physical launch. The whole is greater than the parts. You can pool ideas, share work and introduce your readers to new authors. This is actually a win / win situation.

Work with other authors online

Get together with several authors from your anthology or with several authors whose material is similar to your own. This would be conducted in very much the same way as the on-line launch described earlier though can be very effective because again you are accessing each other's readers.
Here's one I prepared earlier:
Food and drink
Information about authors
Notice too how each writer had a time-slot. This makes the event easy to manage and keeps the pressure off individuals

Thursday, 28 December 2017

The On-line launch

This is very easy to do and best set up via a Facebook Event. 

On-line launches, also known as cyber launches can be great for inviting to your book launch a lot of people who are not geographically near to you, who are pressed for time or who don’t like travelling.   


Use Evenbrite or Facebook Events to create the invite. Use your own time zone but make sure that is clear to everyone. You can make the event all day long or just restrict it to a couple of hours. If the latter, a good time is 6.30 p.m. to 8.30 p.m. Invite all of your friends and put it on your Facebook timeline and on Twitter at least once a day, at different times of the day. If you use Eventbrite you’ll need to create a Facebook page for the event as well. This page will remain active after the event. If you use a Facebook event, you might still like to create a page as well for post-party discussions and the party anyway is a great opportunity to invite people to like your page.

Prepare in advance

Get as much ready as you can in advance. Save all of your links into a file and all of your files into a folder. You can actually start posting ahead of the event. Whet your guests' appetite. 

Some activities:

Pub Quiz

Make up about half a dozen questions to do with the book. The answers shouldn’t be only found in the book. They can be to do with the background of the book or easily look-up-able in the Look Inside bit on Amazon.
Here is an example for Salford Stories:

Pub quiz questions:
1. Look at the cover of the book. Where is this photo taken from?
2. Can you name a story that is to do with water?
3. Can you name a pub mentioned in the book? Hint: you don’t need to have read it yet.
4. Salford always was a very forward-looking city. It was the first to provide three public amenities. What were they?
5. Easy one now. Famous painter from Salford. Hint: look at the pictures in the "Dirty Old Town" video. And Salford's theatre?
6. Here's a tricky one: why is the Ship Canal called the Manchester Ship Canal when most of it's in Salford? There are many acceptable answers.
Notice how number 6 is a tie-breaker?  

Notice also how there is also a subtle call to action here. The link on the title of the book takes them straight to the Amazon page.
If you’re working on an anthology, encourage each contributor to offer one prize and one question. Suggestions for prizes: another of the writer’s books, stationery, an object to do with the theme of the story, a service.


Assign each guest a number as they come into the “room”. About twenty minutes before the end use a random number generator to pick a number. Again, if working with an anthology, you should be able to get a lot of prizes. However, don't offer this book as a prize. You may prevent people from buying it. Offer something from your back list or perhaps a short story.  Or you might have some merchandise – a mug or T-shirt with your book cover on.  


  • Find music that goes with your book.
  • Find excerpts of films that are similar
  • Post a few extracts of your text. Imagine doing one five minute reading every hour.
  • Give some back ground to the book – just as you would if you were chatting live at a party.

Food and drink

This sounds a little crazy, I know. But yes, post up pictures of the food and drink you would like to offer at this party. It helps to set the mood and you never know if you put up a picture of something your viewer fancies and they go and find that or something similar, they might be more inclined to stay longer and buy a copy of the book. Take care as always about copyright. Free pictures are available from Pixa Bay   

Call to action

Make it easy for your visitors to buy the book. Avoid “Buy Now” buttons though you can have one of those on your Facebook page. Perhaps have a pinned notice at the top of your Facebook event or page linking to Amazon and every time you mention the book create another hyperlink.

How to be a host

Try to respond to every comment. If it gets hectic, at least “like” comments. If it’s slow, try to post something new at least every ten minutes for a short launch, every twenty for minutes for a longer one. You can also post on your Facebook timeline and your Twitter feed reminding your followers of the invite.
Give a good sense of starting and ending the party just as you would in real life.  

How to be a guest

You don’t need to be there the whole of the time but do pop in. If you intend to buy your friend’s book, this is probably a good time to do it. Seeing the sales go up will boost her morale. You can set your Facebook to notify you of all messages and you can get on with something else, only responding to what really interests you. You can also of course take along a contribution to the food or drink. Again use Pixa Bay.  

Milk it

Make this a real opportunity to network. Invite your guests to sign up for your newsletter / mailing list. Do you have one? I recommend Mailchimp. The free account goes a long way and by the time you need to pay you can probably more than afford it.