Tuesday, October 02, 2007

In the Author's Voice - Book Videos by Publishers


This concept is a little different than CSPAN Book-TV, Between the Lines or an author appearance on a talk show. Publishers are slowly starting to realize that they can introduced or enhance the relationship between authors and readers by using video to promote the books.

At The Penguin Group there is a specific page for authors. I selected the Robert Parker video. Either Penguin has a different idea about video (static screen shots over audio) or I have video problems (Doubtful). The audio was excellent and Mr. Parker was dishing cool writing tips. However it was a little odd looking at his facial expressions frozen in time.

The video of William Gibson worked much better. It was in QuickTime format. It was a slick production but still very informative. Penguin Books also has a podcast of various writers

At Random House I really had to hunt for the videos. I luck out when I clicked on a name, Sophie Kinsella; there are a number of videos on her page. She seems to write fiction about a hyper-shopper. This is not a line of books that I would read. Nothing personal, I really don't care for shopping but she seemed really enthusiastic.

Random House does have a page for blogs and podcasts but I'm not entirely sure they want you to find it.

Last on the speed tour is BookVideos.TV from Simon and Schuster and a video production company named Turn Here. The video I viewed was of author Jeanette Walls and her book "The Glass Castle".

The video gives a brief overview of the author and her book. It doesn't take much to get hooked.You learn appearances are deceiving. In addition to viewing the video folks can leave comments about the book, or have the ability to embed the video in a blog. Most important there is a link to purchase the book as well. If you are going to do publish author videos this then this is a good starting point to build up from.

Slightly outside of the publishing web sites is VidLit. These are short videos that can be a simple commercials for the book or in the case of Liz Dubelman's "Butterflies and Martinis" a neat intro into her world. If you really like the video you can downloaded it to your video iPod or media device.

There are quibbles. With the exception of BookVideos.TV most of the authors presented via video were male. Second you have to know that you are watching a "commercial" presentation. No one is going to do anything disturbing unless he or she is channeling Hunter Thompson or something. I liked the Parker and Gibson videos because they did talk about the process of writing. But it was a PR piece.

My last quibble is that these shouldn't be so hard to find for the average user to locate. Publishers don't really understand about viral networking or including the reader in the process (if the reader is free to choose) to help spread the word about the author or the books.

It does take promotion out of their direct control and that can be scary. There is another issue that some authors have made it very clear they don't want anything to do with blogs and bloggers or that the book they have written is not intended for a general readership.

So these are starting steps for the publishers. It will get better. It must and there is a wide open opportunity for those that can see past the initial challenges.

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