Do Books Really Need Trailers?

Jeremy Ateca, Pat Black, Andrew Conrady, Hannah Tinder

Let me be transparent here: the whole reason I am writing about book trailers is because we are currently working on one for the second book in my series, so it’s a marketing topic on my mind right now.

Book trailers are not necessarily new, but in the past they have been more for non-fiction or how-to types of books. These were trailers that promoted the author/speaker as much as their book. Think Dave Ramsey, Tony Robbins, or Suzi Ormond. These are people who used their speaking skill to promote their written work through short “commercials”.

It really hasn’t been until recently that it has become mainstream for authors of books of all types to jump into video to promote their books.

Since I already told you that I am in the process of creating a trailer for my current novel  – to be honest, I hired a very talented and experienced director to do it for me  – you already know I am ALL FOR THEM.

Director Thomas Keating getting just the right shot.

But how do you know if it’s something that you may want to do, or something that will really help promote your product in the right places?

In order to decide if spending the money to create a well-done book trailer is worth it for your book, I would look at two primary things: your audience and your marketing plan.

For instance, the audience for my novel series is teens. Teens are on primarily on Instagram (and to a lesser degree, Twitter). Instagram is not only visually focused, but allows for (albeit short) videos that can be viewed, shared and commented on. If that is where my audience is, that is where I need to be.

I am going to do a long(ish) version of the trailer to put on YouTube and Facebook. They are lesser forms of social media used by teens but still effective (and free). I can link the YouTube video to tweets I send out. And then a short version (11 seconds or less) for Instagram.

As for my marketing plan,  I have allocated more money to marketing for this second book in the series. Research shows that as more books are added to a series, the more interest in the series grows as readers are purchasing the other books in the series. So, as I add books to this series, I am going to add to my marketing budget. For all of the above reasons, I decided a trailer was the right use of my budget.

And, let’s face it, book trailers are still a bit different. 385While it’s true they are much more mainstream than they ever used to be, they’re still few and far between. People still stop and take notice. Someday they’ll be more commonplace, but until then, it’s fun to play on the edges a little.

If you are considering doing a book trailer, I say GO FOR IT! And, if you’re looking for a director, here’s a really good one with some experience in book trailers: Thomas Keating

Soon I’ll show you the finished trailer and let you know how it’s doing!

Have you ever done a book trailer? If so, how did it work for you?

Are you REALLY ready to self-publish?


In the past I have stated I am a true believer in self-publishing and feel that it is, without exception, the future of publishing.

In the last few years, however, I have

met with…

talked with…

lunched with….

“coffeed” with…

consulted with…

and worked for authors of all kinds.

And I am ready to amend that original statement. Here’s my new statement:

Self-publishing isn’t, and NEVER WILL BE, for every author. 

Self-publishing is more than just writing, it’s about running a business. And with that comes all the parts of running a business: marketing, advertising, continuing education to stay up on your industry, managing contractors or employees, and much, much more. The truth is, all writers may be hard-wired to write, but not all writers are hard-wired to run a business successfully. In fact, if you’re a novelist, it’s even harder, because the creativity it requires to create fiction is using the exact opposite side of your brain that running the business requires.

Then, there’s the fact that some writers just don’t have the desire to learn about self-publishing. They don’t read all the posts written by or about authors that have done it successfully and they don’t get excited when Createspace sends an email announcing to the world that they are now offering matte finish. (I admit it. I was THRILLED!)

In fact, (and you may need to sit down for this) some writers just want to write. Shocking, I know. And that is really ok.

So, if I just described you, this is my advice: Don’t succumb to the peer pressure to self-publish. Stick with the traditional route and realize that while you may feel you are wasting time waiting for responses to query letters, you can use that time to write more. That way, when the call comes that your agent has sold your book to an editor, you’ll be ready for the multiple book deal!

Good luck!






Taking Your Memoir and Creating a Work of Fiction

This weekend I had the pleasure of teaching a writer’s workshop at Create:Saturday on the Seacoast Summerville Campus.  The writers who attended the workshop were so excited about their writing, they inspired me in my own writing. What an unexpected gift.

One man at the workshop told me he is a Sci-fi writer, but really wants to write his autobiography. He told me about the unconventional childhood he’d had and how, despite it all, God had brought him through. In listening to his stories, I was truly mesmerized. The characters he described and the settings he told me about were captivating. I wanted to hear more about them, but our time was limited.

That conversation got me thinking. He will probably have a very hard time selling his memoir even though it will probably be better than most memoirs our there. Let’s face it, when you query a memoir to an agent or editor, you get the “speech”:  Memoirs don’t sell, unless, of course, they are the life story of a celebrity or some notorious character. Memoir writers often have to decide if they will push through the discouragement or give up altogether.

I would like to suggest a third option. (It’s the same one I gave to this man at the workshop.)

Take the one of a kind characters and settings from your life and put them into a work of fiction. 

Since this man is already a novelist, he understands story arc and pacing. If he drops in the rich characters and detailed settings only he has experienced, he could have the makings of a bestseller. Now he will have a whole different kind of query and a book that is a much easier sell to an agent or editor.

So how about it? Would you consider turning your memoir into a novel if it meant actually selling it to a publisher and seeing it in print?

5 Actions You Should Take Before You Write Your Manuscript

I recently spent an hour on a teleseminar with Michael Hyatt… (and 10,000 of his closest friends). He spoke about the world of publishing as it is now, how to build a platform (based on his bestseller PLATFORM), the pros and cons of self-publishing, etc.  One of the most valuable nuggets of wisdom he shared was:

5 Actions You Should Take Before You Write Your Manuscript

1. Set a specific written goal. What is it you want to do? (Your answer here would be: write your book.) When will it be done? (Yes, this is an ACTUAL DATE.) What is my end goal? (This is where you decide what you want to do with your manuscript when it’s done. Such as traditional publishing or self-publishing.)

2. Accept responsibility for the outcome. The old adage of : “You get out of it what you put into it” applies here. No one can do it for you, so YOU do it for you. I appreciated that reminder.

3. Connect with your “Why”. Why do you want…no… why MUST, you write this book? Write this out in bullet points. Michael told a story about how he grew discouraged at one point while writing Platform and actually considered giving the advance back to the publisher and ending the project. But instead, he went back to his written “Why” and it inspired him all over again to write his book.  That spoke volumes to me and encouraged me to persevere in my goal.

4. Develop a writing schedule. Map it out. Put it on the calendar. Be committed to it.

5. Write a killer proposal. “A proposal is what gets everyone on board.” – Michael Hyatt  He said author should write the original proposal themselves first, so they have a clear direction for where their book is going. If you want to hire someone to re-write it for you before submitting it to agents/editors, that’s fine.  But write it first yourself.

I am a big proponent of self-publishing. I know it’s not for everyone, but if you are considering self-publishing, that doesn’t mean you necessarily discount #5. If you plan to take your writing seriously and make it a profession, you need to make sure you prepare your work as if you were submitting it to someone who will either accept or reject it. The good news is, you will always accept your work! It will just be that much better for the time and care you put into it.

I really enjoyed this free teleseminar. I highly recommend taking advantage of Michael’s extensive publishing knowledge by participating if he offers one again. The best ways to find out about these teleseminar opportunities would be to follow his blog at , follow him on twitter @michaelhyatt, or listen to his podcast.


My Experience with Createspace – Part 3

This is the final part in the “My Experience with Createspace” Series.  In Part 1, I discussed the reasons I had for self-publishing in the first place. In Part 2, I discussed why I chose Createspace above all the other options to self-publish my book.

In this, the 3rd and final part, I wanted give you 3 things I learned in producing my book through Createspace.

Lesson #1:  Take your time

I know we’re all excited to see the fruits of our labor in all their print glory, but I can’t stress enough how important it is to take your time when producing a book on your own.   There are so many decisions you make when producing your book that mean a great deal to the success of your book. For instance, ISBN choice.  Whether you want to have Createspace assign you an ISBN for free, or you want to pay $10 for an independent ISBN, or you want to purchase your own through Bowker, ISBN choice is a something that takes some serious thought.

Ultimately, I chose to purchase the independent ISBN through Createspace because I was going to use my own Imprint – Relevant Pages Press – so Createspace wouldn’t appear as my publisher. This may not matter to you at all. If you are a speaker and plan to sell your books primarily at your speaking engagements or trade shows, it may not matter in the least to you that Createspace is your publisher. For me, having a background in the publishing industry and knowing that I was planning to publish more books in the Narthex Academy Series,  I decided to set up my own imprint.

Lesson #2:  Use the resources Createspace provides

There were a couple of times during the uploading process where I got stuck. Stuck and annoyed. It wasn’t working like I thought it should.  Finally, tired of spinning my wheels, I went onto the online resources to try to get my questions answered.  It was so easy.  I chastised myself for taking so long to go there in the first place. All my questions were answered. Like: “Why isn’t my Word document uploading correctly?” –or- “Where can I get more information on the Extended Distribution options?”  It was all there.  There are even articles on marketing your book and more.

After my book listing was up on Amazon, I noticed there was one listing for the print book and a separate one for the ebook.  I emailed Createspace’s customer service and received a response almost immediately.  (The answer was that it was just temporary and the two listings would be combined in about 24 hours. They were.)  Bottom line on Createspace resources:  Go there. Trust me.

Lesson #3:  Make a Promotion Plan, Don’t Just throw your book out there

Confession: I didn’t do this. I was so excited that my debut novel was finally finished and available for order that I rushed it.  And, there was the fact that I had people clamoring to order it. (Yes, it was more people than just my Mom. Not many more people, but more nonetheless!)  I did make sure I had the print copy in my hand (HIGHLY recommend this!)  and that it was acceptable before I  promoted it and orders began coming in, but what I didn’t do was allow time for the two versions of the book to be made one listing before I put promoted it. That really confused people. I had to send to many people the links to the different versions because they weren’t sure what they were ordering.

Then there are the  coveted comments. You want to make sure to leave enough time between uploading your book and beginning its promotion to allow your “launch team” to read your book and leave *glowing* comments. The more comments available for people to read the better when you finally start promoting it.

In a nutshell, I would highly recommend using Createspace to anyone who was planning to self-publish. In fact I already have.  It’s user-friendly and author empowering. Can you tell I am a huge Amazon fan? But more on that in my next post…

What about you? What has been your experience with Createspace?


A Word of Advice: Don’t Work on Your Confidence

Do you consider yourself a confident person, able to move through life comfortably and feeling  like you can handle most of what life throws at you? Have people told you that you are perceived as a confident person?

About a year ago, while relaying a story to a group about how someone that week had made me feel insecure, a pastor in the group said something that I (obviously) haven’t forgotten. He said “I have a hard time imagining anyone making you feel insecure.” I was shocked. I spent serious thought time on it for days afterward.  How could he think I was so confident? I certainly didn’t feel it.

I was always a shy child. I wouldn’t say I was so shy that it impeded my involvement in activities, but I would never have considered myself confident. It wasn’t until after college when I was in the working world that I began to have some confidence in myself.  Yet, to be considered a confident person? That never entered my mind.

This pastor’s statement caused me to wonder why the gap between the way he saw me and the way I saw myself was so great. I finally realized the way he viewed me had been determined only by the situations he had observed me in.  Basically, he always saw me in the situations where I felt confident, but had never seen me in a situation where I felt unworthy.

Confidence and worth are two very different things. If someone tells me I’m incompetent. It doesn’t faze me. I don’t believe them because I know it’s simply not true. I’m confident in my abilities and can move on without their words hurting me. I don’t place my personal value in my competence or abilities. But if someone challenges my worth or value as a person by saying something that implies I’m just simply not enough: not a good enough mom, not a good enough wife, not a good enough Christian woman, I fall apart inside.  Inside I feel like someone is finally saying what I’ve known deep down for a long time.  My entire sense of worth is summed up in “being enough”.  This pastor had never seen me when my worth was challenged.

Most of my “intense fellowship” with my husband is because I feel he has attacked my worth. Usually, he hasn’t, but I’m so sensitive in those areas, I perceive he has. In fact, most of the times I feel wronged in life in general are because I feel someone has attacked an area where I feel unworthy, not unconfident.

I now know hold my sense of worth in all the wrong places. I should be feeling as completely unfazed by someone seeing my dirty house (i.e. I’m a bad homemaker), just like I am if someone thinks I can’t do my job. I should know that my worth is not in how perfect a housekeeper, mother, wife, or Christian woman I am. My worth is where squarely where Christ placed it: worthy enough to die for. That still floors me.  I should know that is my worth, yet, I don’t.

Complete honesty here: If I allow myself to think too long and hard about how much God loves me. I start to cry. I feel completely unworthy of a love so unconditional. If I truly believed the things that God said about me (and you!) in his Word, I would be crying for joy.

If I really believed He was pleased with me even when I wasn’t doing everything right, working hard enough, or being “good” enough, nothing would wound me. The arrows would bounce off.

It’s not about being confident. It’s not about putting on a good face when you’re really falling apart on the inside. It’s about setting your personal worth right where it belongs.

If I believed that:

  • My body houses the Holy Spirit as its temple. (No, not when I finally get into perfect shape, eat perfectly, and finally figure out how to make those thick green drinks with things floating in them.) But that my body is a temple NOW (1 Cor. 6:19), I wouldn’t feel let down when I looked in the mirror.

If I believed that:

  • God gave me these kids, this husband, and this area of ministry because I am just the right person for it. Then I would know that as far as God is concerned I am already righteous. It’s not about perfect, it’s about holy. God fills in the rest of the gaps as we seek Him.  (2 Cor. 2:14, 5:21, James 1:5) And there would be no more beating myself up for not being a perfect mom, perfect wife, or perfect Christian.

If I truly believed that:

  • God loves me (yes, me) because of me and not because of what I do for Him or His kingdom every day. He just loves me.  The little things that people say or do that make me feel inferior, unworthy, or make me want to fall apart inside, would no longer bother me. Because I would know differently. Just like I know I am competent, I would KNOW I’m worthy.

What is it that makes you fall apart inside? Where is the tender area that makes you feel unworthy? Where do you need to start believing what God sees and not what the world has led you to believe about yourself?

Let’s all agree to work less on creating a confident woman and more on becoming a woman who knows her worth according to God’s word. Agreed?

My Experience with Createspace: Part 2

In the first part of this three-part series, I talked about why I decided to self-publish. In this next part, I want to talk about why I specifically chose Createspace. (Disclaimer: This information is geared toward self-publishing a novel. While some of this information can be applied to other formats like children’s picture books, etc, not all of it can be.)

It’s important to understand that if you are just going to self-publish your book electronically (as an ebook) the entire decision-making process about how you do that is different from if you want a printed book. In my case, while I do see myself choosing to publish some of my books in ebook form only, for Dreamer I wanted a printed book. This may sound funny, but I wanted to hold it in my hand.

A little background about me: I love to research. I love to research anything. I mean really Love. It. If my husband and I are talking about getting a new computer, or car, or anything at all, I am more excited about digging into the research than actually getting the item. In fact, even after we’ve made the purchase, I’m still researching just to make sure we made the right choice. Love it.

How does this relate to Createspace? I wanted to illustrate  I don’t make decisions lightly. In my personal publishing process, I followed what I thought was a rigorous decision-making process. Here it is:

1.   Start at the beginning

When self-publishing, you always have to start by asking your self:  What are my ultimate goals? Let’s be honest, hitting the NY Times bestseller list and having Hollywood knocking on your door asking for movie rights are good goals, I agree. But a few, albeit smaller and less exciting goals in between are necessary to get started.

My goals for Dreamer and The Narthex Academy Series are  simple: Start slowly with Dreamer building a base readership and solidifying my characters through the blog. Grow the readership as the series grows, allowing each book to act as a marketing tool for the others creating a successful series with longevity.

2. Do your research

I have a background in helping others self-publish.  Through that I have worked directly with Lulu and Westbow Press. I made a list of the pros and cons I experienced with both.  Then I began to research the other self-publishing companies  I hadn’t worked with. One of which was Createspace, but I also looked into Xulon, Winepress, and various others.

3.  Make your list of pros and cons and choose which will lead you to your ultimate goals

You already know I chose Createspace, but let me tell you why I didn’t choose the other companies.

  • I decided I didn’t want to work with a company that offered “a la carte” publishing. What I realized here was that having a company like Westbow act as a project manager on my book (in the sense that they would pull together all the contractors for the different aspects of publishing Dreamer) was more expensive than if I found those contractors and acted as my own project manager. Sure, it’s great that Westbow has in-house graphic designers and copyeditors, but they all come at a premium price. If I am going to make this book series a success, I need to find great talent at a good rate. That means cutting out the middle man.  This is the case with most “hybrid” publishers like Westbow, Winepress, and Xulon. Don’t get me wrong. They do quality work, but you pay a premium for it. They are upcharging for acting as your project manager. Just the same way a general contractor does when they build your house.
  • Lulu didn’t allow me easy access to Amazon. Ok, yes. I can put a book produced through Lulu on Amazon, of course. But with almost 25% of ALL book sales going through Amazon, I want to be in direct partnership. Createspace is the self-publishing arm of Amazon. Again, I want to  cut out anyone who would take a cut of my sales. This has already proved profitable for me. My book is available on Barnes and Noble, and while I have seen a few sales come from there, the vast majority has been through Amazon where my profit share is much larger. Middle men suck the life out of your profits!

In a nutshell, I found that for my format (young adult novel, paperback version, no pictures) Createspace is the way to go.  I have ultimate control, am able to get great contractors without paying someone to do it for me, work directly with Amazon, and have use of their incredibly easy publishing software.

Was it a perfect process? No. And that will be the subject of Part 3 of this blog series. Stay tuned!

Just curious, have you used an a la carte publisher and been very happy with the results?