Category : Marketing and Platforms

  • March 13, 2014

    Thursdays with Amanda: Video Critiques, part 2

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    2014AmandaAmanda Luedeke is a literary agent with MacGregor Literary. Every Thursday, she posts about growing your author platform. You can follow her on Twitter @amandaluedeke or join her Facebook group to stay current with her wheelings and dealings as an agent. Her author marketing book, The Extroverted Writer, is available from Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

    Today, we’re going to take a look at some more author videos (ones that were submitted for critique), and we’ll start by one from The Writing Sisters:

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    I like the concept of this one in which the authors really sell themselves while providing plenty of things to look at. It does seem slightly dated with the music and the color of the background, but you know…I think it still does the job.

    And what job may that be?

    This video is a sort of pitch video. It can be used when trying to secure speaking engagements OR, more importantly, when trying to win over a publishing team. In publishing, we do business with people that we like, and authors should take any chance they can get to make a great impression and win over a publishing house. A video such as this would be played during the pub board meeting. It would help the team feel more connected with the authors, whose book they’re evaluating, and in turn would make them more likely to say ‘yes.’ This video I think would accomplish that, as it does a great job of positioning the authors not only as experts and experienced in their field, but as people who will be really fun to work with. That’s a win-win.

    The next video is another pitch video, but this one from a brand new writer who is seeking representation:


    I think Jessica did a great job maintaining a professional demeanor while also communicating passionately about her book. Her lines were memorized

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  • March 6, 2014

    Thursdays with Amanda: Video Critiques

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    2014AmandaAmanda Luedeke is a literary agent with MacGregor Literary. Every Thursday, she posts about growing your author platform. You can follow her on Twitter @amandaluedeke or join her Facebook group to stay current with her wheelings and dealings as an agent. Her author marketing book, The Extroverted Writer, is available from Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

    I’d like to wrap up my series on book videos by taking a look at some videos from readers. These were submitted to me after my call for video submissions last week, and I have the authors’ permission to dissect them online…but still, I promise to be nice!

    The first is a publisher-created book trailer from author Elizabeth Ludwig for her Edge of Freedom Series:

    So this is  a great example of the kind of video that publishers usually produce (though I was informed that Bethany House did NOT produce this particular trailer). It’s well-done, but it’s nothing but vague text, thrilling music, and random video clips. And what’s more is that when everything is put together, it tells a muddled story…

    Because publishers don’t actually go out and film the clips that are used in trailers (they buy them off of stock sites), you end up with a product that lacks cohesion. Everything looks like it came from something else…and it did. So if you’ve ever watched a book trailer and felt lost or confused, it’s not you. It’s the mixture of all of the various clips that are trying so desperately to come together to tell one story while falling short.

    When I watched, it took me awhile to figure out not only where we were, but what time period. The Celtic music and typography narrowed the possibilities. But then you have an almost viking-looking ship (circa 1100s), a shot of a modern-day handgun, medieval-like tavern and horse clips, and finally a shot of the Brooklyn

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  • February 27, 2014

    Thursdays with Amanda: Free Video Critique

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    2014Amanda

    Amanda Luedeke is a literary agent with MacGregor Literary. Every Thursday, she posts about growing your author platform. You can follow her on Twitter @amandaluedeke or join her Facebook group to stay current with her wheelings and dealings as an agent. Her author marketing book, The Extroverted Writer, is available from Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

    Here’s where the rubber meets the road. Here’s where your author, promo, or book video gets put to the test.

    We’ve been talking a lot about book trailers and videos lately. We started on this journey by looking at the different types of viral videos. Then, I compared two book trailers, showing how a great, viral-type trailer can increase awareness. Then we looked at the components of a viral video, and lastly, I shared some ideas that would make creating a viral video easier.

    Yet, all of this is just speculation. It’s just information.

    So let’s look at YOUR videos. I promise to be nice. But I also promise to be honest.

    Post the YouTube link to your book trailer/author video/video promo below, and I’ll share my thoughts. What I think was done right, what I think needs work, and maybe even some ideas of how you could recraft it to hit that viral potential that is so droolworthy.

    Any takers? Anyone? This is your chance to get my opinion on something for absolutely free!

    ___________

    LIKE MY MARKETING ADVICE? My book, The Extroverted Writer is now available in print!

    FRONT Business_Card_Vertical

     

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  • February 22, 2014

    Author Earnings, Amazon, and the Future of Ebooks

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    There has been a ton of discussion over a report on author earnings  by ebook authors (which you can find here: http://authorearnings.com/the-report/), the response to it (http://tinyurl.com/pcebsd5), and the responses to the responses (two of the best are http://tinyurl.com/kbjts5s and http://tinyurl.com/omkjz6v ). If you follow this discussions in our industry, you already know what’s going on: successful self-published author of Wool, Hugh Howey, did a bunch of research and came to the conclusion that self-published authors are selling more books and making more money than those publishing with traditional publishers. It was quickly pointed out that there were some problems with Howey’s work — he sells his books on Amazon, did all his research on Amazon, and (surprise!) came to the conclusion that Amazon is a great place to do your ebooks. Nevertheless, there were really some interesting things that showed up in his research:

    —Indie-published ebooks have generally higher ratings on Amazon than Legacy-published ebooks.

    —Indie-published ebooks generally cost less than Legacy-published ebooks, possibly leading consumers to the sense of getting better value from indies.

    —Indie-published ebooks may be outselling Legacy-published ebooks (this is more inferred than proven).

    —Indie-published ebooks constitute a larger percentage of books sales than we’ve been led to believe in the past (Howey estimates it’s more than 50% of all book sales, though his methodology lacks stringent validity testing).

    —Indie-published authors of ebooks are earning more per book than Legacy-published ebook authors. (Though his argument that Indie-published authors are making more overall is based on very shaky evidence.)

    It’s all fascinating stuff, and I believe his conclusion that publishing’s brightest days are ahead is spot-on. As an agent, I’ve never felt I was one of the people who needed to protect the status quo — the fact is, I believe in authors self-publishing.. Unfortunately, the debate that arose after Howey released his findings was considerably less than insightful. It’s become a fairly

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  • February 20, 2014

    Thursdays with Amanda: The Cheater’s Way to a Viral Video

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    2014AmandaAmanda Luedeke is a literary agent with MacGregor Literary. Every Thursday, she posts about growing your author platform. You can follow her on Twitter @amandaluedeke or join her Facebook group to stay current with her wheelings and dealings as an agent. Her author marketing book, The Extroverted Writer, is available from Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

    Last week I tried to tackle the components of a viral video…I say “tried” because that’s exactly what it was. An attempt to wrangle something that is so elusive for so many.

    But I also promised that there were alternatives to the high-budget, high production suggestions that I made. Now these alternatives aren’t magical, and many of you will still walk away feeling like videos are impossible. And that’ fine! Videos are not necessary to sell books. I think Divergent‘s terrible book trailer proved that. But for those of you who are wanting to give it a go, here are some ideas…

    COLLEGE STUDENTS

    There’s this site called 99designs. You upload your information and needs and then graphic designers from all over compete for your business. They present their designs and then you can actually have friends vote on their favorites. You then pay the winning designer something like $299 and that’s that. You have your design, and that designer has a bit of cash.

    Why can’t we do this with viral videos?!

    In college I was part of a number of “videos.” Someone on campus would have a camera and they’d write a script and we’d go out and film. Once I was even co-writer/co-director/co-actor of a video that we entered into the campus film festival! (We won most creative, by the way). My point is COLLEGE KIDS LOVE CREATING VIDEOS. And they’re pretty good at it. Especially if they’re part of a film program.

    There are two options here…

    THE IN-CLASS ASSIGNMENT

    Most professors are

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  • February 13, 2014

    Thursdays with Amanda: What Goes In To A Viral Video

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    Amanda Luedeke is a literary agent with MacGregor Literary. Every Thursday, she posts about growing your author platform. You can follow her on Twitter @amandaluedeke or join her Facebook group to stay current with her wheelings and dealings as an agent. Her author marketing book, The Extroverted Writer, is available from Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

    We’ve spent the past few weeks talking about viral videos. Last week, we looked at the difference between exciting and…not-so-exciting book trailers. This week, we’re unpacking the “How-to” behind a great video. Now, it’s not rocket science, so if you were expecting a magic formula, I’m sorry to disappoint. But at the same time, I think it’s doable. It’s feasible. Viral videos can be a freak phenomenon for sure, but at the same time there are clear ways to increasing your chances of experiencing that very viralness.

    So now that we have a sort of understanding, here’s my list of essentials for a video to go viral:

    • Know what you’re selling. Are you peddling a book? An in-store event? A writers conference? Your editing services? Figure out the driving force behind the video. The more specific, the better.
    • Choose your emotion. The only reason viral videos get shared and watched is because they cause the viewer to FEEL something. Most viral videos cause laughter. Some are suspenseful and put the viewer in a state of unease. Some, like the Budweiser Puppy Love commercial, create a sense of sadness and, later, warm fuzziness. Consider the type of emotional response you want from your viewers, and while you’re doing that…
    • Create your concept. Here’s where your creative juices should come in handy. You’ll want to come up with something unique…something creative that will entertain viewers while highlighting whatever it is you’re selling. Writing a video is no different than writing a novel, really. You’ll want to plan it out
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  • February 6, 2014

    Thursdays with Amanda: Divergent vs Miss Peregrine – Book Trailer Edition

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    Amanda Luedeke is a literary agent with MacGregor Literary. Every Thursday, she posts about growing your author platform. You can follow her on Twitter @amandaluedeke or join her Facebook group to stay current with her wheelings and dealings as an agent. Her author marketing book, The Extroverted Writer, is available from Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

    Last week, I showed you a bunch of viral videos, and we talked about how most book trailers don’t deliver on a great experience, and then they fail to become even remotely close to viral.

    But let’s really dig in here. Let’s really take a look at book trailers and what works and what doesn’t.

    DIVERGENT by Veronica Roth was one of the most-read series of the past few years. It’s a dystopian YA story that followed on THE HUNGER GAMES’s coattails (though maybe unintentionally) and now has movies and merch and all that good stuff.

    But despite being a smash hit, its book trailer looks like most book trailers. It’s flat. Simple. It does the job, but it doesn’t do the one thing that all viral videos do…it doesn’t cause you to want to talk about it or share it with anyone. Here it is:

    On the flip side, we have MISS PEREGRINE’S HOME FOR PECULIAR CHILDREN by Ransom Riggs. This book came from a mid-sized house (instead of the machine that is HarperCollins). It also is a middle grade/YA novel about weird things. But its trailer offers an experience that gets you, the reader, EXCITED about the book:

    WOW, am I right?

    So here’s how the numbers look…

    DIVERGENT has sold a ton of books. Like a bazillion. On Goodreads alone it is rated almost 585,000 times. So a smash hit, for sure.

    Its book trailer has been watched 215,000 times since the book released in May 2011. To me, that number is a bit

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  • January 30, 2014

    Thursdays with Amanda: Viral Videos

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    2014AmandaAmanda Luedeke is a literary agent with MacGregor Literary. Every Thursday, she posts about growing your author platform. You can follow her on Twitter @amandaluedeke or join her Facebook group to stay current with her wheelings and dealings as an agent. Her author marketing book, The Extroverted Writer, is available from Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Today, it is on sale for $2.99…check it out!

    Oh, the book trailer…The minute-long visual of stock photography that dances across the screen to the beat movie scores, voiceovers, and sound effects.

    Publishers create them. Authors adore them. But readers?

    Readers ignore them.

    I get it. Having a book trailer is like this announcement that you’ve arrived. For most, it’s the closest thing to a movie trailer that the author will ever get, and so it’s special.

    But it’s also a waste of money. Why? Because it’s a minute-long advertisement that is usually the equivalent of a locally made commercial. Just take a moment to think about those local commercials…when was the last time you watched one and thought to yourself, “I just HAVE to look up C&C Heating and Air Conditioning!”

    Probably never. So if book trailers are similar to these local commercials, the likelihood of someone watching one and then becoming interested in your book is so, so, so, so low.

    But still…

     

    THE POWER OF VIDEO

    When done right, video can make viewers respond in positive ways. Let’s take the Oikos commercials with John Stamos. They’re a tad funny and a lot nostalgic for those of us who remember Uncle Jesse and obsessed over ER. So all in all, they’re decent commercials. But they are still advertisements.

    How do you take an advertisement and turn it viral?

    THE VIRAL VIDEO

    Viral videos happen when a video of any sort (whether a home video, a stunt, a performance, etc), catches on with the general public.

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  • January 23, 2014

    Thursdays with Amanda: The Beauty of Social Media

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    2014AmandaAmanda Luedeke is a literary agent with MacGregor Literary. Every Thursday, she posts about growing your author platform. You can follow her on Twitter @amandaluedeke or join her Facebook group to stay current with her wheelings and dealings as an agent. Her author marketing book, The Extroverted Writer, is available from Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Today, it is on sale for $2.99…check it out!

    It’s been snowing here like crazy (I live in Fort Wayne, Indiana). There was one snowfall in which we got something like 16″, and the snow has continued to come. Three inches here. One inch there. And we’re only halfway through winter.

    I’ve been ridiculously curious about the total amount of snowfall, but couldn’t find the information anywhere. I mean weather sites seem to all be trapped in the 90s, and news sites are only interested in the here and now. So I almost gave up…until I decided to reach out to one of our weathermen via Facebook.

    Curtis Smith has over 31,000 Facebook followers, but when I visited the page I found that he is fairly active on it. So, I posed my question. He replied in a couple hours and instead of providing me with a website I could use to get such information in the future, he invited me to come to him with my questions.

    Oh, and for the record, we’re at 34.6″ so far.

    ________________________

    Yesterday morning, I was doing the Health Care Juggle. After being on hold for an hour, I was told that I had called the wrong number, and so I was transferred. That person said that I had been transferred to the California office, so they transferred me again. Then THAT person said that I had reached the Connecticut office, so I was transferred a third time. That person told me I had reached the wrong department and they gave

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  • January 16, 2014

    Thursdays with Amanda: 5 Reasons Readers Stop Reading Blogs

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    2014Amanda

    Amanda Luedeke is a literary agent with MacGregor Literary. Every Thursday, she posts about growing your author platform. You can follow her on Twitter @amandaluedeke or join her Facebook group to stay current with her wheelings and dealings as an agent. Her author marketing book, The Extroverted Writer, is available from Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Today, it is on sale for $2.99…check it out!

    When I worked in marketing, part of my job was to stay on top of mommy blogs. Every day, I’d catch up on my favorites and try and discover a few new ones (not hard to do, of course).

    It’s been at least three years since I had to do this, and I still find myself checking in on my favorite mommy bloggers…even though I don’t have kids and even though I rarely read blogs in general. This got me thinking about my time as a blog reader and how some blogs would be high on my list only to drop down and eventually fall off the list altogether soon after, while other blogs stood the test of time.

    So, I figured I’d share the TOP 5 REASONS I WOULD STOP READING A BLOG:

    1. The blogger changed their approach. This happened all the time…a blogger would be in their groove, churning out great content that hits their reader and then WHAM. Things change. With Dooce.com, I was an avid reader until she started doing a bunch of endorsements for products and brands. Suddenly, most of her posts were sponsored by Pampers or Verizon or Whatchamacallit. Though she tried to keep the posts Dooce-like, it just wasn’t the same. I soon stopped reading. Another example is when the blogger suddenly brings in a bunch of guest posts. We’ve done this on our blog, in fact, and we’ve noticed numbers go down. So yeah…while it may help pay the

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