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DragonCon 2016: Using book trailers and social media

Last week I shared some info from the DragonCon 2016 panel, “How to promote your book.” That article covered physical tours versus blog/ review tours and networking. In this article, I’ll tell you what the panelists said about book trailers and creating a persona for social media.

Panelist recap

In case you missed the previous article, here are the panelists:

  • Shelia English – Circle of Seven Productions. She trademarked the term “book trailer;” that’s what the company does, among other things
  • Ben Coles (Bennet R. Coles) – Titan Books and Promontory Press; creator of military sci-fi
  • Kathy Lyons, who also writes as Jade Lee – romance novelist
  • Peter David – yes, THE Peter David, author of several Star Trek novels as well as Marvel graphic novels and independent books
  • Faith Hunter – urban fantasy author with the Jane Yellowrock series and others
  • Gale Z Martin – author of The Chronicles of The Necromancer fantasy adventure series
  • Lee Martindale – a self-published author at HarpHaven Publishing

Create a book trailer to promote your book

Ms. English included the use of book trailers. “People have evolved to be visual creatures,” she said. “They will watch a visual representation [of your book] when not willing to read the back of the book.”

She added that a video is great for Search Engine Optimization. In English, that means it’s a great way for people randomly searching the internet to find you and your books.

A book trailer is just like a movie trailer but for a book. They range from full-on productions to simple Flash-style animations featuring the book’s cover. Below is a trailer for one of Ms. Hunter’s books.

That teaser is about as basic as it gets but still effective. The trailer below is closer to what you’d see for a movie.

Now before you indulge your inner Spielberg and go for a trailer like the one above, note that a full on production can get expensive. There’re actors and crew to pay, as well as gear rental, studio or location space, not to mention food for the crew.

You could do it yourself, but then you must decide whether you’re a writer or a filmmaker. Do you have the knowledge and the network to produce what amounts to a short film?

Shooting a short is time-consuming; wouldn’t you rather be writing?

There are plenty of people out there that can put a trailer together for you. Ms. English’s company (see above) is one of them. Run a Google search and you can find others.

Be sure to look at samples from the person/ company you hire. If you don’t like their stuff or they’re not familiar with your genre, be wary of spending upwards of $200 or $300 for their work.

Creating a persona for social media

A trick I hadn’t thought of was using your Facebook and Twitter banners as ads for your books. I mean, your potential audience are gonna see them anyway. I followed that advice to announce the upcoming release of my book.


As for using social media, it’s a lot like the process of networking. Again, you’ll have to be an extrovert. No one is going to promote your books like you will, but if you’re too scared to stand up and say “Look at my book!” no one will see you.

But remember, the panelists suggested you DO NOT make it about buying your book. Provide potential social media followers with something they can use. Chronicle your creative process. Post news about other authors and their books. Provide writing or self-publishing tips you’ve learned. Talk about pop culture.

If you’re on Twitter, be sure to retweet other people’s stuff that you find interesting. Get into conversations. But be nice. No hate, no trash talking.

The intent is the follower will get to like your persona, and then they’ll trust you enough to take a chance on your books.

Okay, you can pimp your book a little bit. Try an eighty/ twenty ratio, with the twenty being how much you mention your book.

“Creating an extrovert persona to use is an absolute necessity,” Mr. David said.

Mr. Cole added, “At least it’s a genuine fake personality.”

The panelists cautioned that when building your persona to choose wisely about how much of yourself you want the world to know. Always remember that you control what goes out there, but not how the world interacts with it.

Hence, “persona.”

Also be sure not to put too much (if any) personal info out there. Sure, you can tell them you have children, but why give their names? You live in a particular city, but not exactly where. Hell, some authors even have different pen names depending on their book’s genre!

Just be safe on the interwebs.

Final thoughts

The unfortunate part of all this promoting is that it takes time away from your writing. But unless you’re happy writing for friends and family, it’s a part of the gig as an independent/ self-published author. Somehow these panelists are doing it and they publish two and sometimes three books a year!

So get out there and try some of these tactics. Come back here or on Twitter and let me know what works for your, what doesn’t, and what you’d like to know more about.

In future posts, I’ll let you know how things turn out for me!

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