Monday, December 28, 2009

When Opposites Attract, The Fire is Ignited

People will contend often that, in the game of love, opposites attract. If you are open to testing the validity of that "physical" theory, then look no further than the extreme case of Drew Black and Gillian Noode, an unlikely pair fitted together on a circumstantial basis. Gillian, a PR expert with a talent for smoothing over a man's rough edges, has to help Drew clean up his image before his heated temperament takes him too far and compromises his profession as a sports club president. But Drew is the most extreme case that she has seen, and now, with proximity working against her, she is starting to find Drew's raw personality somehow impossible to resist. Tempers and desires are ignited in Back in Black, the newest novel by Lori Foster. Check out this sensual and provocative release from Foster to find out who will end up on top in this heated conflict between opposing forces.
Foster, a New York Times bestselling author, has written more than sixty novels in the romance genre. Her contemporary works have brought her much praise and many awards, and Back in Black will prove no different. It is bound to keep her readers wanting more. The novel will be a must for Foster followers, but it will make an excellent addition to your romance collection even if you have never encountered Foster's work before.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Shades of Blue - Interview with Karen Kingsbury

This book was so hard to put down. Karen Kingsbury is one of those authors who lure you in with such well written stories that you find time slipping away as you sit there engrossed in the book.

This book tackles some tough topics in a loving and realistic way.

Brad Cutler lives in New York and has a dream job. A dream life! He is engaged to the love of his life who also happens to be the boss’s daughter. Brad is a Christian man and the relationship between him and Laura seems perfect. But, a past sin comes back to haunt Brad and before he can marry Laura and start his new life with her he has to go back home to North Carolina and right a wrong. Unfortunately that means seeing his old high school sweetheart. Brad only makes matters worse when he doesn’t confide in Laura about Emma and what happened many years ago.

This book is thoughtful and one that makes you think about what really matters in life.

Monday, October 19, 2009

2.5 Million views on YouTube

With over 500 videos uploaded to YouTube Circle of Seven Productions is proud to share that it has over 2.5 million views on that site alone!

There are actually more than the 500 videos uploaded to YouTube, but many are older or they are behind the scenes type videos that didn't make it online. Back in 2002 when COS first started the book trailer market there wasn't a YouTube or MySpace to post the videos to.

With over 400 sites to choose from when uploading videos, COS has had over 16 million views collectively. That includes views from offline venues as well.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

National Geographic Image Collection Book Trailer

Of all the beautiful photos you’ve ever seen in your life, what would be the ones you would put in a single book to share with the world?

National Geographic tapped into its vault of photographs from over years of time and put them together in this amazing book.

Some of these pictures are dated back to the 19th century and some are never-before-seen pictures. All of them are breath taking.

As someone who loves photography, both the art and the mechanics, this book gave me insight to lighting, angles, subjects and opportunities like nothing else I’ve ever seen.

People, wildlife, landscape it’s all there.

I can’t recommend this book highly enough. Here is a book video someone made for it so you can see some of these amazing photos yourself!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Social Media and Book Video Distribution

I attended PodCamp Ohio this past weekend where I gave a talk on the topic of online video distribution. We discussed how to identify your target audience, where to find them and how to win them over. We also talked about what online sites are great for video.

I was happy with the turn out for my talk and the fact that the audience participated by asking questions and making comments. All in all it was a great trip and I hope to attend next year.

COS Productions helped to sponsor the PodCamp Ohio event. We were a sponsor of BEA this year, but no one asked "why" since it is obvious. We work in the publishing industry so BEA (Book Expo America) is a natural choice when we go to sponsor an event. But, PodCamp is important to us as well. PodCamp Ohio featured some great talks about new media, social media, trends, SEO and so many other wonderful topics. I learned a great deal and walked away with some great contacts there.

It was a little ironic that one of the main sponsors was Ohio State University's Center For The Study And Teaching of Writing. Ironic since COS Productions is also a book-centric company and a sponsor of PodCamp. was a sponsor and I was encouraged to see that company be so active in a community event like this. is one of the biggest video sites and one of my personal favorites to distribute to because they offer so much by way of distribution platforms and analytics. They are leaders in what they do and what they offer.

Blubrry, which is a podcast site is also a favorite of mine. We send all of our podcasts there and get a fantastic response. Blubrry even gave out some cool little pins and I snagged one for my "nerd" collection, of which I am proud. lol

I hadn't heard of Spaceblue, or even TechSmith but these are all great companies who care about investing in the industry in which they serve. I was familiar with The Doctor Anonymous Show, which you should check out if you are interested in new media.

Other sponsors included Writers Talk, which is a radio show and I'm hoping to get some COS authors on that. Digital Disciples and td/Taviano Design were also sponsors.

It was great being surrounded by like-minded people. I did a quick poll when I addressed the assembly and found that over 50% of the attendees had already seen Star Trek. We all got a good laugh at it and it was wonderful to find that we could laugh at ourselves, be passionate about what we love and share our knowledge all in one day to the benefit of everyone.

During my talk I gave people handouts with links to a list of social media sites that they can put their videos on. I also gave them some TubeMogul t-shirts that went over great! Thank you to the great people over at TubeMogul for sending me t-shirts to give away at my talk.

I saw two people video taping my talk and I am hoping it gets posted online at some point. If it does I'll be sure to share the link!

I have a few more PodCamp stories to share this week so I hope you'll come back often!

Sheila Clover English
Circle of Seven Productions

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Book Expo America the Remix

It was a long week and a fruitful one. Despite the doom and gloom predictions I saw a lot of action, meetings, signings and industry news in the making going on all week during BEA.

I attended as Press since I work for Reader's Entertainment and I planned on blogging during and after the event. But, I was there to promote my own business as well and paid the fee to have my material put in the high traffic areas of the registration desks. It was the best $500 I've spent on promotions this year. I saw an immediate return on investment with an increased amount of traffic to the COS websites.

I heard a lot of talk about social media. Once group said you have be present online the other group saying social media just doesn't sell books. My question is, how do they know that ads in magazines sell books when they aren't tracking that? How do we know what is working? It was interesting to hear the same old song and dance from the same people who continue to hold out, believing that online promotions will go away.

The best workshop I attended was put on by Chris Brogan and Julien Smith. They were promoting their book Trust Agents which I highly recommend. The book talks about using the web to build your reputation and earn trust. There's a lot of great information in this book. If you're job takes you to the internet to interact you should pick this book up immediately!

I could not see where BEA suffered from any lack of participation. That doesn't mean that it didn't, or that those publishers who did not attend weren't missed. I just didn't see any indication that BEA was anything but successful. I walked out with information, ideas and over 100 pounds of books!

I will most certainly attend and invest again next year.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Filmmaker of the Year Uses Talents to Promote Books

This year at the 9th Annual Phoenix Film Festival, Webb Pickersgill was awarded as the "2009 Arizona Filmmaker of the Year" by the Phoenix Film Foundation which is the largest non-profit film organization in the state of Arizona. With the Phoenix Film Festival, IFP-Phoenix, Arizona Student Film Festival, International Horror and Sci-Fi Film Festival and the Phoenix Film Society.

Webb is multi-talented on many levels. A director, cinematographer, script writer, editor and producer Webb works on feature films, short films, commercials and book trailers. He has won several awards including a Davey for the book trailer Absolute Fear by author Lisa Jackson.

Several of his book trailers have become “Official Selections” of the World Independent Film Expo this year as well.

The "Official Selection" videos include-

Absolute Fear - Lisa Jackson
Ultra Violet- Nancy Bush
Found- Margaret Peterson Haddix
Fragile Eternity - Melissa Marr

Webb has owned his own business, Bassline Digital since 2004 and joined Circle of Seven (COS) Productions as a partner in 2006. You can find out more about Webb and his work at Circle of Seven Productions is the top book trailer producer in the United States and own the popular online reader site Reader’s Entertainment TV.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Social Networking - Fun vs. Business

At what point do we differentiate between social network fun and business? Are we always to be our "business" selves on sites like MySpace and Facebook? Do all of our Tweets need to be carefully constructed for ROI?

Is there a happy medium? And could being ourselves in a more personal way actually be a business strategy?

I've always mixed the COS MySpace with fun and business. Our MySpace blog get tens of thousands of views and is one of our strongest promo tools. I noticed that there's always a spike in views through when I write about two particular topics: Marketing is always well read on our blog, but even more popular are my rants about conventions and attendee behavior. I'm still on topic, sort of, by talking about the conventions, but I lean heavily into a more personal arena by giving my own insight to it (usually done with exasperation and/or humor).

60 days ago I decided to try a case study on Facebook. I hadn't been doing a lot with our Facebook profile, so this was a great opportunity to see what would happen if we tried something more "social". I started playing a popular Facebook game that had over 1 million players. The game is Mafia Wars.

I'm not a game player really. I used to play Tetris years ago, but that is about the extent of my game playing. My husband helped me get set up with Mafia Wars and soon I got the hang of it and learned to really enjoy it. Building my mafia meant finding other players, so I signed up for the Mafia Wars group site on Facebook. Once there I found over 150 people who wanted to be in my mafia.

These people didn't know who I was or what I did. They didn't care. They only cared that I was a good player. But, once they became a friend, in order to get on my mafia, it gave me access to communicating other things with them.

What surprised me was the number of these people who would comment on my Facebook profile when I posted something. At first I would post little things like "What are you doing this weekend?" People love to be able to share things about themselves so these type of questions were popular with everyone.

Then, I started posting our book video or comments on our clients books. Surprising me again, my mafia friends commented here too. Sometimes I got more comments from these people than from people I befriended because they are in the book community.

There is no doubt that some of my mafia friends bought books I recommended or talked about. I know because they emailed me. I never told them I was in the industry. I never went out of my way to say anything about what I did. What they saw was someone who loves to read making recommendations.

Could it be that because these people didn't see me as "selling" books that it instilled more trust for my recommendations? Traditional readers go to reviewers and others who are in the book world in order to get recommendations. But, these people were not traditional readers. They were "occasional" readers. They are part of that group who will read if inspired to do so.

Preaching to the choir does not build a bigger choir. We want to give traditional readers all the information they want in order to make purchasing decisions, but those people are going to read something regardless. It is the occasional reader that needs the extra nurturing so that we can encourage them to become traditional readers.

Mixing fun with the business of book promotion in a way that makes book promotion seem less like selling can be successful if done right. No matter whether you're playing online games or promoting a novel, you need to practice proper etiquette and remember that the way you conduct yourself follows you everywhere you go in the online world. Be thoughtful, considerate and honest and mixing fun with business gets easier to do.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Staffing for Social Networking And Online Success

How many social networkers does it take to run a company's online social networking program?

That depends. Not on how big the company is, but on how entrenched you want your company to be in social networking. How active do you want to be online? How effective? Is being transparent, responsible and accountable in your social networking outline and execution?

Here's how our own company determined some of our social networking priorities and execution.

We outlined the different types of readers that we know are interested in book video. We identified our audience. We outlined where those people are online. Many people are on more than one site, so we tried to narrow it down to the sites most likely to have the largest number of our target audience.

We outlined the type of material we want to offer these people. We matched up those elements to where we find that audience. Then we asked ourselves, what is the best platform or venue to reach this audience where they are hanging out online?

Then we developed a plan for our clients that would help them make goals that allowed us utilize the information we have attained, while also meeting the client's set goals.

For example, the client may be more interested in "branding" than sales. Branding is a building block to sales and someone looking to invest in their professional writing career knows they need to start with a good foundation. Going straight to sales may net you something, but it's like skipping foreplay, the payoff just isn't going to be the same.

If the client wants to do branding, let's say, as a chicklit author, we then match up our variety of platforms and venues to ensure that their video, audio, blogs, ads or whatever it is we're doing for them, finds that audience in a way that that audience likes. We might upload a fun video to TeamSugar, Popbytes or any number of similar sites, then approach known bloggers who fit that criteria and ask them to blog using the video. We may have other venues that are appropriate for this campaign and we apply them all.

How many people does it take to make that happen?

Since COS is primarily doing online marketing, promotion and advertising we have a full service front-to-back system.

Front End:

We have four people to address customer service. One main, full time employee who does the initial contact, helps determine the client's needs and is the liaison throughout the entire process.
We have someone who works specifically with our bigger clients. Clients who place multiple orders. This could be a publisher, agent, publicist or author.
For clients who have special needs I, personally, will work with them and our main customer service person to assist them in choosing a goal best suited to them.
And then we have our distribution coordinator who fills in for our main customer service person from time to time because we believe that the people who finish a project should understand how it all got to them.

We then have the products and the producers of those products who work with both the front and back end people.

The back end, or distribution department has 5 main workers and 2 ancillary workers. We have our social media manager who uploads video to social platforms and keeps track of what's going on with those sites on a daily basis. He can tell you if a site allows you to change a thumbnail, add more tags, allows live-links. He knows the ins and outs of how those sites operate.
The distribution coordinator works the front end so she knows what's coming and can advise others in the team what the goals are so appropriate distribution can happen. She collects information needed to optimize SEO, she is in charge of the timing of distribution, and she does things like sends out emails to the team what a book is released since COS does additional work on the day a book is released. She is also the person to follow up with our clients when their experience with us is finished. She sends them our company survey and makes sure they are satisfied with the product and the experience.
The quality control person for distribution goes around to our main sites or specified specialty sites to review how each video is performing. Each new video is assigned certain performance expectations and this person reviews that video to ensure it is living up to expectations. He does this until the end of the first week after the book is released. If the video is not performing to expectations he has a list of actions he will take until we get the video to perform.
Distribution research and development manager spends time each week looking for new venues and platforms. This might be a new video site, new blog, reader site or applying our videos to a new technology altogether. This person works with the other members of the team to follow trends and new opportunities.
We have a Distribution Specialist who works with booksellers, libraries and specialty sites who require special formatting or delivery. This has become a full time job.

In addition to those distribution jobs, customer service assists in R&E and in quality control. We have a tech expert who assists with any technical problems we run into.

But what of social networking itself?

Some of these positions incorporate social networking. Andrew, who watches the video performance, will post bulletins, blogs or comment in groups as he identifies how to get a video or audio product to perform better.

We have a group of volunteers made of of readers who will create a buzz for certain campaigns by talking about it in their own circle of influence.

I do the majority of social networking online. I blog every week for one of several blogs. Our COS MySpace blog is the most popular and has had tens of thousands of people read it. We have the COS blog, RECTV blog and I blog for Future Perfect Publishing. Recently I was made chair of the ITW (International Thriller Writers organization) Social Networking Committee and I blog on those social sites as well.

I recycle some of the blogs. If I write a blog that is popular I will re-use it down the line on a different venue. This allows me to maximize the work I put into blogging.

Andrew, Victoria and I all work at answering comments that come in to our blogs and social sites. That is something that is shared, but very vital to us.

In the summer of 2009 COS will have a certification program for Social Media Networking that we will require our employees who do front and back end work to attain. This will help our team to be as effective as possible while also being attuned to the ever-changing landscape of social media. This will help us stay on top of what works, what doesn't and how to best use our time.

Social networking takes commitment and dedication. It takes patience and time. And it takes energy and creativity. It isn't just a matter of mastering Facebook or writing a blog. It's become an important tool needed to keep our company viable.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Book Trailers that Matter

All books matter. They bring joy, inspiration, knowledge and/or entertainment. But sometimes there are trailers that come along that matter in a way that makes you want to share it with the world.
Currently, I have three such videos I'd like to share.
One is a beautifully drawn children's book called Change Has Come which is an inspiration about the future of America and the election of Barack Obama.
The second is an author reading from a book called Crazy Love. I can't watch this without getting emotional and I wish I could share it with the world.
The third is not a COS made trailer, but we did the distribution for it. It is the story of a mother's journey raising her autistic child.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

What is the best book community out there?

We want to know what YOU think!
GoodReads, a favorite of COS, is a wonderful community of readers, but there are so many it's hard to determine which one to invest your time in.
A great deal of Ning sites have sprung up with groups for general readers and then genre specific. Shelfari and even Amazon's community have a great following. But, which one is best?
We'd love to have your opinion!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

A Great Time Travel Novel!

MY MAN, MICHAEL proves you can be both a lover and a fighter! Combining mixed martial arts, romance and time travel!
The previous book in this series made both the USA Today and NY Times bestseller lists!
Michael thinks an injury will keep him from fighting again until a woman shows up and promises to heal him. But, he must travel with her and teach a community of woman warriors to fight in return.
Imagine Michael’s surprise when she fulfills her end of the bargain and finds that, to fulfill his he must travel into the future!
MY MAN, MICHAEL is out on Jan. 27, 09 and can be found at any major bookstore. Find out more about the book, the series and the author at

Part 1-


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Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Can out-of-home markets be the secret to stimulating books sales?

According to its website Scarborough Research “measures the lifestyles, shopping patterns, media behaviors, and demographics of American consumers locally, regionally, and nationally. Scarborough consumer insights are used by marketers and media professionals to develop successful programs that maximize return on marketing and sales investments.” When Scarborough researched the buying patterns of the Transit TV commuters it found something that might not be a surprise to publishers; commuters read.

Transit TV has flat screen televisions on its buses in five major cities; Los Angeles, Chicago, Atlanta, Orlando and Milwaukee. According to the Transit TV site 46% of its riders are aged 18-34 and 55% are female. But what percentage of commuters are buying books and where are they going to buy them? That’s what Scarborough Research asked. And we’ll look at those stats in a moment.

Other than statistic significance, there are a variety of reasons why the publishing world should take note of this information.

• Demographics- getting your message to major cities
• A repeat audience
• Audience recall of material

Transit TV audience is preconditioned to accept book video as both content and purchase suggestions since they have been watching book trailers since 2008. Circle of Seven Productions signed a contract with Transit TV in March of 2008 to provide book trailers as content. The relationship between the two companies started with a simple email from Sheila English, CEO of Circle of Seven Productions, inviting Transit TV to look at COS videos on YouTube. “I saw the Transit TV logo on the OVAB site and recalled seeing that on ExpandedBooks’ website. I knew there must be interest in book content and COS offers something different than ExpandedBooks so I thought I’d contact Transit TV and see what they thought of our content.” Jeff Hartlieb of Transit TV said, “I saw the significance of the Book Trailer segments and when riders started asking where they could purchase the books, I knew we had hit a home run” Hartlieb goes on to say, “The content is highly visual and well suited to Transit TV’s environment which is one of the major reasons it has done so well on our system”

Once book trailers began to play on Transit TV there was a brief period of adjustment where commuters would see a book trailer and understand what it was. COS book videos are meant to be entertaining, so they aren’t overt advertising. And to lend to the impression of entertainment vs. ad, COS created bumpers, which are pre-roll video that tells commuters they are learning about certain genres of books and an end roll video that encourages people to read anything. “We were contracted to provide content, not ads,” says English. “By creating a pre and post video that encourages the experience of reading, then putting our trailers between those bumpers as examples of what someone might read, we are able to treat our book videos are entertainment, not ads.” The downside of being a content provider instead of an advertiser is that we don’t have the metrics or analytics that advertisers get. We know we will get 10 million impressions for each video, but we don’t get specifics and we don’t get to request particular spots or dates. The videos play within the month we submit them. Because the videos are taken as content and because of the lack of analytics COS doesn’t charge its clients for placement on Transit TV. COS does, however, charge a nominal fee for formatting and processing so it doesn’t absorb incidental costs related to the program.

The Transit TV venue has significant benefits to it. There is a 51% average advertising recall which is an amazing statistic, and one COS has seen in action.

“I was excited when I opened my email to see that I got a fan letter from someone who saw my trailer on the bus!” Says author Thora Gabriel who shared part of the letter. The commuter was so enticed by the trailer he noted the URL of the author and emailed her when he got to a computer. “Being quite a fan of various fantasy books and such, I was intrigued by the "trailer" for the book currently being shown on Los Angeles MTA bus
monitors.” This commuter recalled the book, the author and the URL after getting off the bus. He was inspired enough to take action. That’s what all promotion is suppose to do.

89% have a favorable opinion of Transit TV so the majority of people watching appreciate the content. With so many people on advertisement overload, to find a venue where the audience is happy to watch the material on the screen lends itself to positive outcomes for advertisers.

“I’m getting more and more fan mail from people who saw my trailer on the transit bus!” say author Christine Feehan. Authors are excited about getting this additional exposure and over the fact that it inspires action.

The Scarborough research found interesting facts about Transit TV commuters. They did an index that compares the overall population of the city to those taking the transit system. The way the index works is that it looks at the concentration of a certain type of consumer compared with the overall city.

For example, in Milwaukee, there is a 22% greater concentration of people who purchase books online who are taking the transit system and watching Transit TV. The concentration of readers/commuters purchasing books online in Chicago is 12%. That means that you can find a 12% concentration of book buyers on the bus compared to the metro population index. The down and dirty of these stats tells us that a high concentration of book buyers are riding the transit system.

Where are these book buyers going to purchase their books? Not everyone buys online as the research will show. In Los Angeles, Milwaukee and Chicago Waldenbooks was the preferred bookseller of commuters who watched Transit TV. But, in Atlanta it is B. Dalton that the majority of commuters bought books from. Other places where book buyers went were WalMart, Barnes & Noble, Half Price Books and then online at Amazon.

There is a high concentration of book buyers taking the transit bus system who are spending significant and repeat time on the bus, watching Transit TV. These book buyers are now attuned to book video that plays several times throughout each day, informing them of new books and reminding them of the entertainment of reading.

It’s only a matter of time before one of the booksellers will find a way to utilize this venue and drive foot traffic to their own stores. They will benefit from multiple books being presented to these readers. It will just be a matter of driving that traffic to a central or “preferred” point of sale.

The readers benefit from having this information given to them in an entertaining way, authors benefit from a book promotion venue that is targeted to a high concentration of book buyers and booksellers benefit from repeat messages telling people that reading is a major form of entertainment.