Friday, January 25, 2008

New eBook on Video and Video Utilization Due in Feb. 2008

It's almost completed. So far there are 40 pages and there will be at least another 10 before it is done. The upcoming ebook will be sent out via the COS newsletter, MySpace bulletin and eventually will be placed on the resources section of the new COS website.

Though the ebook touches on some other types of promotional tools it's main focus is on digital video, distribution, video utilization and marketing opportunities.

Here is an excerpt from the unedited version of the ebook-

Your book video is a tool. It’s like any other tool, it needs to be used correctly in order for it to work. These elements need to be in place for your book video to be the most effective tool it can be –

1. Well produced, entertaining video
2. Formatted correctly for placement/distribution
3. Distributed correctly
4. Monitored to establish effectiveness

Producing a quality, entertaining video is just part of the overall process. COS Productions uses a beta testing system that allows for reviewers to rate our videos. We start the survey off by asking, “What is this book about?” There are several questions of that nature that gives us insight to how well we’re doing. “Well produced” means getting your idea across just as it means having an aesthetically pleasing video. I’ve watched many videos that last three or four minutes and I’m never really sure what the book is about. I know there’s a lot of naked people in it though! LOL

Before you start creating your video you need to know what you’re going to do with it. What do you want it to do for you? Have goals in mind so that you can better determine whether or not your book video was successful.

I’ve seen a lot of posts detailing how a book video should be made. Some of those are good and some of them are not. If you take someone’s advice on how to make your video you need to watch some of the videos that person made first.

Here’s some instructions and tips for those of you who want to make your own video-

1. Set your goal. What do you hope to accomplish with this video? Be realistic in your goal. “Sell a million books” is NOT realistic. “Get my name out there for people to see” is a realistic goal. “Have my book video picked up by a bookseller” is a realistic goal.

2. Ask yourself where this video will play. If it is for online use only you don’t have to be too exact in the length of the video. You don’t have to worry about formatting to fit a screen. But, if you plan on showing your video on a television screen, you need to think ahead and format it to fit. If you plan on putting it on a movie screen you need to be using the highest quality pictures or stock footage. What looks good on your computer screen might not look so great on a 40 foot movie screen.

3. Write your text for the video. Don’t make it too long. Don’t use your back cover copy. You want to entice the viewer to find out more. If you use the back cover copy you’ve taken away another enticement that you could give a potential reader. Determine the conflict of the characters and of the story. Don’t give away any secrets! Nothing irritates me more than to see a book video that tells what the ending of the book is. Thanks! I don’t need to buy that book now.

4. Once you write the text, have someone critique it. If they read it will they know what the book is about? Ask them to tell you what the book is about just from the text. Remember that the visuals can tell part of the story too. So, if they get most of it, you’re doing okay. Just fill in the blanks with whatever visuals you choose.

5. Choose the visuals for the video. This can be stock photos, stock footage, black screen, motionloops, etc. Don’t have so many pictures that people spend their time trying to figure out what the pictures are and they miss the text. Don’t put so much text on the screen that people can’t see the image behind it. And, if you do have a lot of text on the screen, please leave it up there long enough for slower readers to read it all.

6. Sound effects and music. There are a lot of great places to find royalty free sound effects and music. is a perfect place to find those things at a reasonable rate. Be sure you read the license agreement and follow that. I have heard popular music used in book video. There’s even a company out there that used some popular music on a book video they created for an author, so please be careful. I have done cost analysis for popular music and can say with some authority that most people won’t pay that much to include popular music. It would, most likely, cost more than what you pay to have the entire video made.
You do want to spend a little extra time working on the audio for your book video. The music should reflect the kind of video it is. Here is a great example of the proper use of music for a book video-

7. You’ve assembled your text, visuals, sound effects (if you want them) and music. Now you need to put them on the timeline and create your masterpiece! Be careful to have your font size large enough to read. And the font doesn’t have to be fancy. It has to be readable.

8. Transitions. Transitions are where you fade from one picture to the next. People get pretty creative with transitions. Please don’t. It’s a sure sign of an amateur. If you want to do something other than a simple fade in- fade out please keep it simple and don’t do it too often. The same goes with making your words do special little tricks. Your words don’t need to dance, unless dancing words is part how you get your story across. If your story is about dancing, then maybe I could see it. If you just have to make the words do something exciting please keep it simple and don’t do it too often.

9. Appropriateness. If you’re going to play your video in any public arena please give some thought to the pictures you choose to put in your video. And give some thought as to the content of your text as well. I’m all for Freedom of Speech. I am also all for having some class. If you want me to NEVER pick up your book or recommend it then by all means, play your nearly-X-rated video in front of my 6 year old daughter. Give some thought as to where you want to play your video.

10. Formatting. If you’re looking for quality then I would format to mov (Quicktime). But those files are larger and take longer to upload. If you’re looking for quick and easy then format to wmv (Windows Media). The wmv files are find, but blown up big on the computer screen it starts to look pixilated. If you’re going straight to flash that’s great, but some sites can’t upload flash.

11. Distribution. Send it everywhere. Why not? You’ve got nothing to lose but a little of your time. Think about what your initial goal was for the video. Where do you need to distribute this video in order to attain your goal?

There are a variety of topics discussed in the ebook and we encourage you to sign up for the COS Newsletter to get the ebook soonest.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Beyond The Video - What Else Is Important?

It’s hard to sell something creative when most creative is subjective. Recently we did an online survey of our videos. We chose one video from each of our editors and created a survey. If you ever want to do a survey of your readers or clients, Survey Monkey is a very valuable service. We use surveys as one part of our quality improvement and assessment commitment. It was interesting to see that so many people participated and there was such variety in their opinions. Something we discovered that was interesting was that many of our participants, which were made up of readers and booksellers, were most influenced by the genre of the video.
Overall, each of the videos did well, but there were opinions that conflicted over music and visual elements. The video that had the worst marks was also the video that 80% of the participants voted the as the best video. It was almost as though they were harder on the video they thought was the best.It made me wonder how this could happen. It all came down to the preference of the viewer. Not just the quality of the video, but genre of the video was most important overall. So, one can conclude that, if someone doesn’t like a video, it may have nothing at all to do with how the video looks or what the message is.

In 2003, when Borders Group put the first book trailer, Dark Symphony, up on their site, no one really knew how book trailers would eventually turn into a market of their own. Now that they seem almost commonplace people see them less as a cool novelty and more as an expected entertainment or advertisement. With the newness wearing off people are becoming more critical and demanding of quality and clarity. Slideshows slapped together with text taking up the entire screen is not going to be acceptable anymore.
More and more people are turning to professionally made content. Not only are authors and publishers turning to professionally made content, but so are distributors of online content.The book trailer market has become established. With growing online demand for entertainment and news, the book video market has solidified its place in most marketing campaigns.

There is a shift in 2008 from just having a book video to maximizing the effectiveness of book video. Distribution and analytics are the name of the game now. If you aren’t a major player in those categories, you aren’t looking toward the future of the market. Distribution doesn’t just mean uploading to YouTube, MySpace and the like. That’s now expected. Back in early 2006, we were impressing people with our 10 distribution sites that went with each product. Now, in 2008, we have well over 200 distribution sites and have branched out into genre-specific placement of video. You must realize that if everyone is uploading to the top 10 or 20 video share sites, then your video is now in competition with thousands of others. It’s not just competing with other book video, but with other online video entertainment. Either you need to somehow grow your own YouTube-type sites, or start partnering with specialty sites that will take your video as content. You need to investigate online content provider companies that will send your content out to entertainment sites like SciFi Channel or Oxygen Network.

Analytics are going to be key in 2008 as well. `What are analytics? Analytics is the measurement and analysis of how something did, in this case, online video. This includes information such as: who is watching the video, where they were referred from, how long they watched the video, and whether they shared it? Demographic and geographic information can be important for many reasons:

Knowing if your book is read more by men or women can help you determine how to develop the look of your website.
Knowing that your video is very popular in a particular state or city can help you determine where to do a book signing or what booksellers you need to become more friendly with.
Knowing what state or city your video is popular in can help determine where you should do media buys.

There are more reasons why this information is important and a variety of ways to utilize the information for future campaigns. Targeting your audience, localizing your target and being able to pinpoint your best opportunities for sales in a given area is going to make your marketing budget dollar work harder for you. After all, a book video isn’t designed to get hits on YouTube, it is designed to sell books. When you can do both, then you have an effective marketing tool worth investing in.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Book Trailers Doing Well On YouTube

More and more readers are turning to YouTube to find book trailers and many content providers/publishers are uploading there.
COS Productions has seen an increase in hits and subscribers over the last two months. You can check out the COS YouTube channel HERE.
You can see the progress over the last few weeks -

It's exciting to see trailers growing in popularity on the top social networks!

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Circle of Seven Productions Goes Coast to Coast

It will be a busy week for COS Productions' CEO Sheila Clover English as COS sets out to start 2008 with a bang! Starting tomorrow Sheila will be in Arizona meeting with productions partners, then over to work with the distribution manager then off to Mexico to get some stock photos and footage for the upcoming Hispanic Station on REC TV. COS will be offering Hispanic trailers in 2008! Next week Sheila is off to New York City to meet with publishers and booksellers! She will also be signing up a new production partner who will do shoots in NYC. Before spring the plan is to make it over to Ann Arbor to meet with the good folks at Borders Group! So it's going to be a very busy time for COS! In the meantime, check out the new Video Book Reviews Sheila is doing for REC TV!

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

COS on YouTube

Did you know that you can subscribe to COS videos on YouTube?

When you sign up for COS on YouTube you will recieve a notice when new videos are uploaded! This is an easy way to fing book trailers, author interviews, book reviews and more! You don't have to go search them out, they come right to you!

Love a particular video? You can put the URL link from that video on your automated signature! Promote your favorite author every time you send an email, but without being intrusive. People will see the link under your name and can choose to check it out if they want!

Want your very own player? Contact COS at and let us know what you would like and where it will be playing. Our technical team will help you set up your own COS YouTube player! The new videos will automatically upload to your site. You won't have to do anything but enjoy the view!