Books move from author to editor to publisher to retailer, and at each step, the players strive to make the ultimate product as attractive to the reader as possible. In short, they market. They promote. They sell.
One of the newer tactics is to create and distribute a video book promo online. Like film previews, the idea is to reach a wide viewership, especially those book lovers who might not already be fans of the author.
Video, however, can be unforgiving. Viewers have been spoiled by high production value. They have been trained to expect quality. Unfortunately, many book promo videos released to date have been flat, uninteresting, or just plain cheesy. And video promos are very expensive to produce!
But we live in a visual age, so I keep expecting a breakthrough. But I keep waiting for that one special video promo that changes the way the game is played. It is going to happen.
Yes, Julia Quinn is my sister, and yes, I have been known to write about her here. But no, I don’t automatically love every one of her covers, so it wasn’t a given that I would love this video just because we share DNA. But I do love it. Very much. So I called her up:
EMILY: This is the first time one of your books has had a promotional video. Why now?
JQ: My publishing house wanted to do a different kind of promotion for me with What Happens in London, so they sent the manuscript to Brady Hall, who produces book videos for them. Brady came up with such a fabulous concept, and his work has such high production values–I knew it would be great.
EMILY: How involved were you with the making of the video?
EMILY: What does your publisher hope to get from this?
JQ: We’ve all seen online videos go viral and suddenly jump from a few hundred views to hundreds of thousands. That, I suppose, is their hope.
EMILY: Has any book promo gone viral yet?
JQ: Not that I know of.
EMILY: Did you go to the shoot?
JQ: No. I was afraid my inner control freak would emerge and I’d try to take over and direct.
EMILY: I am sure people will be curious about the actress who plays Olivia Bevelstoke in the video. How did Talia Gottlieb get involved?
JQ: Full disclosure to blog readers: Talia is our cousin! She is a theater major at a college not far from where Brady works, so when I saw the initial script, I asked if she could audition. Brady agreed, and then Talia was on her own. She won the part fair and square. She had to do a film test like everyone else, and Brady had the final say in casting.
So then I called Talia:
EMILY: How did you get into Olivia’s character?
TALIA: The combination of the period appropriate text, the exciting location, the makeup and the hair really created a fantastic foundation for the character. The room we filmed in was beautiful, filled with antique furniture, and even a detail as simple as a the squeaking door gave me a sense of ownership over the space.
The process of doing my hair also helped me get into character just because of the intricacy involved. I’ve read many of Julia Quinn’s books and there are numerous references to maids doing hair/how long it takes to prepare for parties/disheveled hair, etc. After putting on the costume I felt ready to go to one of the Bridgerton balls.
EMILY: Tell us about the day you filmed…
TALIA: The filming process itself takes such a long time compared to the amount of footage that is actually used (the shooting took an entire day), but it actually gave me a lot of opportunities to explore Olivia, decide what to emphasize, discover her endearing awkwardness, and of course work on my accent.
There was a crew of three (makeup/hair, lights, film) and two actors, including myself. I was surprised by just how much time it took to do what she called “light” makeup and hair, and the whole process took a lot of patience. I was fortunate to be in most of the takes and didn’t spend much time waiting when filming started. I felt very new to the process, even after doing a pilot and a short film while at school, but it was a very fun introduction to the profession I hope to have.
EMILY: How about a little tidbit we wouldn’t know from just watching the trailer?
TALIA: I actually wasn’t wearing any shoes during the filming! We didn’t have appropriate footwear, so we just went without. And the dress I’m wearing in the closing montage is actually just a white scarf wrapped around my shoulders. Oh the magic of film!
Thanks to Julia and Talia for sharing. And here is hoping we see a lot more terrific video promos!
Additional note: Wax approached the video promo challenge from a different angle last year when we introduced the low-cost video promo where the author introduces the book his or herself: here are four examples: Jane Porter, Susanna Carr, Diane Gaston, and Michael Spradlin.