The Magic of Portland’s Independent Publishing Resource Center

Portland, Oregon, has long been heralded as one of the best locations in America for artists, authors, and other creatives to find inspiration and community. Indeed, the city’s reputation has made it a hub for creative-minded folks looking for opportunities to hone their crafts and, more importantly, showcase and distribute their work to the public. For authors and artists who don’t have access to publishing technology or spaces to create, print, and publish their work, there are distinct barriers to doing what they love. However, there is an incredible nonprofit organization right here in Portland that seeks to break down these barriers and make publishing affordable and accessible to all.
Founded twenty-one years ago in a partnership between writer, publisher, bookseller, activist, and Portland City Commissioner Chloe Eudaly and printmaker Rebecca Gilbert, the Independent Publishing Resource Center (IPRC) is a nonprofit community center that is dedicated to making the process of publishing accessible and affordable to all. According to their mission statement, the IPRC seeks to provide “affordable access to space, tools, and resources for creating independently published media and artwork, and to build community and identity through the creation of written and visual art.”
One of the IPRC’s goals is to increase the accessibility of both print and visual publishing materials in order to promote diversity and equity in Portland and beyond through the creating and sharing of art. The center describes their goal this way:

By gathering such a diverse group of people under one roof, the IPRC nourishes an expansive and productive community, and is an incubator for the independent creative spirit that makes Portland unique. The IPRC fills the community need for low-cost access to otherwise expensive space, equipment, and materials, and supports artists to create quality, innovative, and experimental work that couldn’t be made elsewhere.

So just what kind of equipment does the IPRC have? The center’s main studio (currently open by appointment only due to COVID-19 safety precautions) offers an open workspace where patrons can work on individual projects and chat with other community members. The space is home to a digital lab containing iMac computers, which have access to creative software like Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop, and InDesign; black-and-white and color photocopiers (adorably named Blanche and Stella); paper-cutting equipment, including manual and electric paper cutters; paper finishing tools and staplers; button-making tools; and a Bind-Fast 5 perfect book binding machine. Haven’t used these tools before? Either a volunteer or the studio manager will provide you with training before your first use.
Outside of the main studio, the IPRC also offers other specialized studios for different types of printing. The Berlin Family Letterpress Studio is home to a number of letterpresses, a lead type collection, and even offers a galley rental. If screen printing is more your style, you might want to check out the WeMake Screen Printing Studio, which allows members to learn and practice screen printing fundamentals, and offers all the necessary materials that are needed to make a project come to life. Finally, the IPRC Risograph Studio is home to three Risograph printers and thirteen color drums. For each of these specialty printing studios, members are required to complete introductory workshops on how to use the equipment before being allowed to access and use the technology.
The IPRC also offers workshops and classes on a variety of other subjects, including creative writing (both fiction and nonfiction), poetry, chapbooks, zines, and even bookkeeping. The center keeps an updated calendar on their website with information about upcoming workshops and events. Other programs offered by the IPRC include a year-long certificate program that combines creative writing workshops with instruction in design, book arts, and print production; a BIPOC Artist & Writer Residency which provides authors with time and space to create, as well as a stipend of three thousand dollars; and summer youth camps that offer five weeks of creative writing, printmaking, and comic workshops for youth ages five to eighteen.
Interested in using some of the IPRC’s many tools and resources for your creative projects? Learn about membership opportunities and non-member access to studios on their website. You can also donate to this incredible organization to help keep it running so that the Portland community can retain access to these incredible resources. See their wishlist on their website, and support local artists by shopping the wonderful artwork created at the IPRC’s studios.

Sign that says time for change with led lights in background.

Demanding Diversity with BookTube

BookTubers are a well-known part of the book-loving community. BookTube is the place on YouTube people go to hear others rave about books they love or discuss all things wrong with the books they don’t. Throw in some fun bookish tags and it is the perfect space for readers to get more content when they aren’t curled up with a book. That being said, BookTube has gone through some important changes over the years and one vital change is that the personalities and faces of these channels are becoming more and more diverse.
Diversity is something the publishing industry has long struggled with, but BookTube isn’t letting that stop them. Anyone who has a passion or an interest can upload a video onto YouTube, and that is no different for the book community. These videos afford BookTubers an audience and platform to speak their minds and call for change, much like the creator Christina Mitchell does consistently. Mitchell’s channel takes the issue of lack of diversity head on and calls out the community in dedicated videos. One video, which criticized the attendance of BookCon, resulted in the Con giving her a panel to speak on issues that concern her, such as diversity.
Mitchell’s example of speaking out isn’t the only headway the community is making on diversity. YouTube recently released a trailer for a BookTube video featuring David Sedaris. While Sedaris is highlighted, this video also features a panel of numerous BookTubers including Cindy Pham, Joel Kim Booster, Jake Roper, and Francine Simone, a small selection of people that still showed a more diverse set of content creators from the platform. This support from YouTube itself shows that people are taking notice and their platforms are just as successful as the white creators from BookTube’s inception. This is also a show of growth as YouTube’s previous feature with Michelle Obama consisted of a largely white panel of BookTubers. A HuffPost article was even written with Black BookTubers criticising the choices of creators included in this video and the missed opportunity YouTube had to highlight a marginalized group of the book community. These outspoken creators are a huge part of the visibility of these issues and a huge step into holding the publishing industry as a whole accountable.
BookTubers aren’t just making callout videos—they are also uplifting authors and books that are already representative of the diversity they seek. They are still coming up with popular BookTube content while also featuring people of color, LGBTQ+ people, and so much more. For example, Cindy Pham from readwithcindy even posts an annual Asian readathon in the month of May to highlight Asian Heritage Month. This event is specifically targeted for Asian authors, characters, or both. These creators are using their platforms to both create a positive and fun space for book lovers while also giving a spotlight to issues they care about. These content creators are unapologetically calling for change out of love for reading, something their audiences can no doubt identify with. BookTubers are making it quite clear that they won’t stand for the industry’s lack of diversity, and with their impact we can look forward to how that will change the face of the industry in the years to come.

Person holding tablet with the pages of a document on the screen

The Anatomy of a Press Kit

Not just a pretty document, a press kit provides the media with information about an upcoming book release that could potentially lead to earned publicity for the book and the author. A good press kit makes it easier for journalists to learn quickly about an upcoming book release. There are six vital components to creating a press kit that will catch the media’s eye and get your author the attention they deserve. Below, the anatomy of a press kit will be dissected so your book can launch successfully.

Contents of a Press Kit

COMPONENT ONE

The first part of a press kit provides all of the details about the book’s outward appearance. It also shows important information like when the book will be published and whether it is paperback or hardcover. These details include:

  • Title, subtitle, and author
  • Metadata
  • Image of the book cover

COMPONENT TWO

The second part of the press kit contains all the information about the book. This includes information about author appearances and reviews. It explains why a reader would want to pick the book up. This is usually done with a press release. Another option instead of the press release is to do a one-page book description and another page on author appearances and events.

  • Press release
    • Should include a hook, summary, reviews and praise, information about launch events and other author appearances, author bio, subject matter of the book (why they want to buy it, how it pertains to the reader), when the book will be published, and where it can be preordered. Remember to keep each of these sections short and to the point.
    • The bottom of the press release should say something like, “For more information, to receive a copy of [title], or to interview [author], contact: [contact information of publicist or publishing house].”
  • Or, a one-page book description and one page about author appearances with dates and locations.

COMPONENT THREE

The third part of the press release is the author bio and photo. While the author bio is also included in the press release, feel free to go into more detail here.

  • Author bio with a photo of author

COMPONENT FOUR

The fourth component of the press kit keeps the book breathing: praise and reviews. Make sure to include key reviews from important people or organizations for your book. Praise is there to show the media that your book is worth taking a look into.

  • Praise and reviews

COMPONENT FIVE

The next part of the press kit allows the media to get a running start on articles and interviews for the author and book. Adding talking points to your press kit will make it that much easier for a busy journalist to write a great piece on your upcoming book release.

  • Talking points
    • These can be talking points about the book for interviews, or a filled-out Q&A with the author (needs to include questions and answers).

COMPONENT SIX

The last component of the press kit is a section on the publisher and who they are. This does not have to be long and can just be a normal publisher bio.

  • Publisher bio

Contents of a One-Pager:

The one-pager is basically a one-page press kit. It also resembles a tip sheet, but it is sent to media outlets instead of salespeople or publishers. The one-pager includes the following:

  1. Title, subtitle, author
  2. Hook, book description
  3. Book cover
  4. One to two blurbs (keep it short)
  5. Author bio
  6. Metadata

What is publicity?

Think of a publicist as an author’s strategist, promoter, organizer, and cheerleader. Publicists are evangelists for the books they are working on. Publicity is often referred to as earned media because it is not paid for. Some examples of publicity for books are articles, author interviews, author appearances, reviews, and blog posts. Publicity depends on a third party to spread the word about an upcoming book release. Because it depends on someone other than the publisher to talk about the book, consumers tend to think it is more trustworthy.

And that’s all there is to it. So go forth and get that earned media for your book.

Books from Media: Published in the Real World

If you are a fan of the shows Parks and Rec, Jane the Virgin, or Younger, then you’ve probably heard of the books that were published by characters in those shows. But are you aware that those books have been brought into the real world?

These television shows have each produced fictional works based in the unique world of each show and written by the shows’ characters. These works are often created by ghostwriters, or with contributions from the shows’ creators, producers, and directors.

The facade is taken quite seriously. If you venture to the publishers’ websites, the authors and their bios are all consistent with the shows’ characters. Pawnee: The Greatest Town in America from the show Parks and Rec, published by BBC Books (an imprint of Penguin Random House), has even included “reviews” from the fictional characters of the show, including Andy Dwyer, Chris Traeger, and Tom Haverford.

Snow Falling, the novel by Jane Gloriana Villanueva, the main character from Jane the Virgin, was published by Adams Media, an imprint of Simon & Schuster. The second TV-to-book adaption for the publisher was Marriage Vacation, a novel written by Pauline Brooks, a character from the show Younger which follows the New York publishing scene.

One of the most successful TV-to-book series is from the show Castle. It follows a crime writer, Richard Castle, who shadows a detective in New York and writes books based on their experiences. Seven of the novels from the show produced by The Hachette Group have made the New York Times Best Seller List and have a huge following.

These aren’t the only examples by a long shot. For instance, cookbooks based on television and movie series have recently grown in popularity, including Insight Editions’s Supernatural: The Official Cookbook and Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge: The Official Black Spire Outpost Cookbook, as well as Titan’s, Firefly: The Big Damn Cookbook.

With so many forms of media competing for the public’s attention, it seems publishers have hopped on the trend of accompanying popular digital productions. Editor of Marriage Vacation, Christine Pride, describes the relationship as one of gaining readers who may not read otherwise and come to these books via their televisions. She states, “In this competitive media landscape, those are the kind of edges that we’re trying to leverage.” Ghostwriter of Marriage Vacation, Jo Piazza, explains that these kinds of tie-ins are very important to the book industry. Sarah Berger, contributor to CNBC, concludes that this phenomena “is a case of life imitating art, and this type of immersive experience could soon be the new norm.”

The success and popularity of this concept have proven it to be a way to reach a new audience, or rather a pre-established one, and it is working. Sales of published works based on or taken directly from shows and movies have been extremely high, and while the publishing industry struggles with predicting book sales, producing books this way can be a safer bet.

LAUREL EVERYWHERE Press Kit Prep

The Laurel Everywhere team members had their work cut out for them to compile and utilize Ooligan’s first-ever press kit. Our newly founded publicity department, led by the amazing Alex Gonzales, thankfully did the research for us and put a template together that we used to build the Laurel Everywhere press kit! A press kit is usually used by publishers as a prepackaged set of publicity materials that provides information about a book and is sent to members of the media for promotional use.

Ours includes a one-pager, which can be compared to a tipsheet or a fast-facts page, and a press release that has targeted and specific newsworthy copy to make it easy for a media reviewer or journalist to print it in their publication. Also included is a more in-depth about-the-book page, an about-the-author page, and an early reviews page which houses the blurbs we’ve received from distinguished authors as well as early reviews from Goodreads. On top of all that information, we also crafted discussion questions and an author Q&A formatted in AP style for a journalist to pull directly from our kit. To complete the kit, we included a simple page with information about Ooligan Press. In total, it’s about ten pages.

In the kit, we talk about Erin Moynihan’s debut YA fiction novel, Laurel Everywhere, and how it destigmatizes mental health with young readers by bringing taboo topics like death, grief, and suicidal ideation to light with a palatable narrative that encourages empathy and offers hope to readers.

Laurel Everywhere is a deeply moving, startlingly real examination of trauma, tragedy, and the indefatigable strength of the human spirit when confronted with a world that won’t stop turning in the face of loss.” —Ava Morgyn, author of Resurrection Girls

With Laurel Everywhere, we have committed to showing young readers that grief and caring for your mental health aren’t things you have to go through alone. You can even find life and love after extreme loss. Current events have taken a toll on people everywhere, and this novel opens the door for conversations we all need to have with ourselves and our loved ones about loss and healthy coping mechanisms.

Our goal with the press kit is to garner media attention for Laurel Everywhere locally and nationally. We plan to send this kit out to a list of media outlets and journalists that we think would be interested in covering the release of this novel. We would also love to partner with mental health organizations and charities to help talk about the book, the heavy themes of grief, and how we can find hope in our real-world situations.

For more information on Laurel Everywhere, or if you would like to receive a press kit or interview Erin Moynihan, please contact Grace Hansen at grace.hansen@ooliganpress.pdx.edu.

Black-Owned Bookstores Can Handle It

I think it is safe to say that the year 2020 has changed the world as we know it in a number of ways. Many people, myself included, are desperate for some semblance of the normalcy we were used to. While I completely understand these feelings, we all have to accept that important things are happening in 2020.

One important change is the momentum and support of the Black Lives Matter movement. This movement is affecting all areas of life and has caused at least one positive change in the publishing industry specifically—the support of Black authors, bookstores, and stories. With this abundance of support, there has also been some backlash on social media unfairly placed on Black-owned independent bookstores due to lack of stock and late shipping times. It’s vital to understand that the problem doesn’t start at these bookstores, but at the chain of supply that is being affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

There are a few things we have to realize, and first is that the book you ordered from a small, independent, Black-owned bookstore is most likely the same book countless others also ordered. As a smaller, indie bookstore they are doing their best to get these books to you, but the supply just isn’t coming in at the rate they need. It is unfair to assume that the fault lies with Black-owned bookstores rather than outside factors that are hindering their operation.

The main factor here is the supply chain, as they also faced hits from the COVID-19 pandemic. The supply chain plays a huge part in getting books to bookstores and then, eventually, the hands of customers. This is the real issue, as “[i]ndependents are generally supplied by the wholesalers because of their small orders, meaning they now have only existing stock” to ship out. Another article points out that they are dealing with loss of employees, remote work, and safety and health checks to name a few obstacles in their way. These issues directly affect the distribution of books as they are forced to slow down production and reexamine processes. With slower distribution rates and lower stock, Black-owned bookstores are reaching a standstill as “[t]he concentration of interest among just a few titles can create long wait times, with some books on backorder for weeks.” These independent bookstores are nowhere near the calibre of their competitors such as Amazon and Barnes & Noble, so some patience and understanding is required. Just keep in mind that this is bigger than just supporting your local bookstore; it’s a big step in changing the world for the better.

COVID-19 has clearly played a large part in slowing down the supply chain for everyone. It is simply a part of living during a pandemic that requires a bit more sympathy and understanding while these independent booksellers work tirelessly to get the books we all love into the hands of those who ordered them. While many are used to free two-day shipping, that is simply not a sustainable way of life. Now is not the time to point fingers and blame anyone for why the world has changed this way. Instead, we should focus on coming together.

It is important to remember why we should support Black-owned bookstores and why everyone has ordered the same titles in the first place. Black-owned bookstores are not falling short, but rather they are operating as best they can in dire circumstances. I applaud the resilience and strength it takes for these bookstores to operate during a pandemic and prioritize the people supporting them. We can all use a little more patience and understanding rather than trying to find who is in the wrong.

So while you wait for your copy of Ibram X. Kendi’s How to Be an Antiracist, consider other titles that portray authentic Black stories and keep on supporting, educating, and growing. Also, if you have the time, maybe send out a supportive tweet to your local bookstore and let them know they’re doing a great job.

Listening Is Reading: The New Audio Frontier

If you grew up in the nineties, I’m sure you remember the ever-changing landscape of media formats, not to mention all of the frustrations they brought along with them. The vinyl record, a notorious stalwart, received its first major blow soon after cassettes were introduced in the sixties and seventies. Before compact discs (or my personal favorite, the MiniDisc), DVDs (or Blu-rays), or even MP3s, the cassette helped usher in a new way of consuming media portably and on demand. Instead of scheduling your life around an episode of Friends or Seinfeld, you could simply turn to your favorite audio or video cassette to fill the time.

Thanks to the National Library Service and their talking-book program, the practice of recording narrated material for the blind and those with physical disabilities began in earnest around 1931 after an Act of Congress. The main challenge in producing audiobooks is finding the talent necessary for narrating and mixing said audio. Setting aside the need for publishers and nonprofits to pay narrators and producers, the amount of time needed to record can also be an obstacle. The availability and accessibility of audiobooks has led to several instances where publishers either contract out their production work or have authors produce their own. In the case of small presses and self-published authors, handing over original content can prove to be a tricky matter, as the original intent of a work can be altered or completely lost in translation. According to an article on Literary Hub, the audiobook—whether it be fiction, nonfiction, or educational—”grew exponentially with the advent of cassette tapes,” and “revenue for books on tape reached $200 million in 1987 and $1.5 billion in 1995.” This exponential growth is reflected in the sales figures of the last two years, which grew 37 percent from 2017 to 2018. Certainly, audiobooks are a viable and worthwhile prospect for both small and large presses.

With the popularity and proliferation of digital devices like the iPhone and iPad, audiobooks and their close cousin, the podcast, have become uniquely convenient for those multitaskers looking to fill extra time during their commute or workout. This does bring up the question of whether or not this practice of listening rather than reading is a legitimate method of comprehension. Daniel T. Willingham notes that “print may be best for lingering over words or ideas, but audiobooks add literacy to moments where there would otherwise be none.” I’ll echo a sentiment found in John B. Thompson’s Merchants of Culture, where he quotes a small-press owner in Britain: “the very reading experience is one of the most intimate things there is.” This intimacy is reinforced within the medium of audiobooks, which, like many other digital technologies, is widening exposure for many authors.

Building a Social Media Following for Aspiring Authors

You’re an author. You’ve written at least one book, and you possibly have a few more on the way. You’re looking for an agent. You’ve secured an editor. You have a publishing contract. You’re at the very beginning of a beautiful and meteoric rise in the publishing world, but then someone suggests you focus on your personal brand. Your author brand. Because as much as publishers like to think they are the main reason someone picks a book off a shelf, it’s more likely because of the author name (though the title and the cover can help too).

Where do you go first? Out of the plethora of social media options available, which is going to net you the most bang for your buck? Which is going to be the most efficient and effective use of your time?

Where To Go

Instagram and Twitter are essential for establishing and maintaining a following. Instagram should be used primarily for shelfies and aspiring-author content. Once you’ve been published, it’s a great place to showcase covers or fan art or to document the publishing process and talk about what you’re doing now (readings, speaking engagements, etc.). Creating a dedicated Facebook author page will allow you to cross-post content between Instagram and Facebook, so lean heavily into the stories features on both for unpolished fun and behind-the-scenes moments. A presence on Goodreads is good to have, but it’s not essential. Update or create a profile. Be available for author chats. Post blogs and book reviews. Being active there is as easy as cataloguing the contents of your shelf and rating what you read.

What To Do

Be consistent. Post two to three times a week when first starting out on whatever primary platforms you choose. That’s no easy task, especially if you’re using multiple social sites, writing, working a day job, working two jobs, going to school, or raising a family. Before starting your social media presence in earnest, stockpile content. When you’re at a conference, workshop, or other event, take plenty of photos. Social media is a written and visual medium. Facebook especially loves video. When all else fails, shelfies will do the trick every time.

Don’t care about how many followers you have. And don’t buy followers. Instead, find your core audience, no matter how small at first, and engage them. Ask them questions and get to know who they are. Don’t just post a question and walk away. Don’t ignore the comments. You have to be interested as much as interesting.

Pick a platform and tailor your brand. Your brand should be reflected by the platform you choose and the genre you write in. Once you’ve established a brand, don’t be afraid to experiment, especially by leaning into standard social media convention. Eighty percent of the content you post should not be about your book; instead, it should be about writing, publishing, other books, etc. Twenty percent of the content should be about your book, or books, which averages out to about once a week. If your book is newly published, then you can reverse the 80/20 rule for a few weeks before and after publication.

And Finally

Don’t read negative reviews. Don’t respond to negative reviews. And don’t ask people to buy your book. If they buy into you as an author, if they buy into your brand, and if your craft is solid, the social media presence will sell your books for you.

Writing Review Requests

Reviews are an important part of marketing a book, but how do you get those reviews?

Before you start writing the requests, you must first create a contact list. The list should include both larger and smaller outlets, but each entry should be someone you think would have a connection with the book. You also want a variety of media—magazines, newspapers, journals, blogs, radio stations, podcasts, and anything else you can think of. The first draft of the contact list should include as many ideas as possible.

It’s easiest to create the contact list using Google Sheets or Excel; that way you can record the contact information and website links in case you need to look at them later. Remember that adding a lot of information at this stage will help you down the road. When you are adding entries to the list, you want to record things like the name of the outlet, a link to their website, their medium (like “blog” or “podcast”), a brief description, contact information, and any specific requirements they have for reviews (for example, sometimes an outlet will only want hard copies, or they may request that you send them multiple copies). Make note of any specific directions so you won’t forget—following directions shows you did your homework and will help you make a good impression.

After you have gathered your initial ideas, you can narrow the list down to places that are the best fit to review your book. This will help you shrink your list to a manageable number and make sure the outlets you’re contacting will be likely to take an interest in your book. Sending requests to relevant places is more important than sending them to as many outlets as possible: if your book doesn’t fit into the type of content a website reviews, then time spent researching and generating that request will be wasted.

Once you have made the contact list, you will want to create a template for your requests. The template should include information about the book, such as a summary or press release, the publication date, the author’s bio, and a couple of blurbs. You should also incorporate some space to personalize each request for its intended outlet—you want a few sentences about why you think they would be interested in reviewing your book. If they’ve reviewed similar content, or even some of the author’s previous work, you should mention that. Saying why you think they’d be interested tells them you put effort into your request, and this will hopefully make them more willing to review your book.

Your template should include (in this general order) a greeting, a sales hook, an introduction to the book, a book summary or elevator pitch, and a closing. The greeting should be addressed to a specific person if possible; for example, if you find that a journal has a reviews editor, you should address them. The sales hook is the first thing the reader will see, so it’s important to make it interesting. The introduction to the book should include the title, the author name, and a brief description of the book. The book summary should concisely convey the central themes in the book, and you should make sure to use some keywords from your marketing plan here. You also want to include why you think this outlet specifically would be interested in the book. Finally, the closing is the place to explicitly ask them for a review of your book. This is where you want to include personalized information about the outlet, and you should repeat the title of the book here too. Don’t forget to include the publication date and the formats in which the book will be available.

After sending out your requests, you should give your potential reviewers a few weeks to get back to you. Then, if you still haven’t heard back, don’t be afraid to follow up with them—people forget, and emails can get lost in the shuffle, so don’t assume that no answer automatically means they’re not interested in your book.

Should you judge a book by its trailer?

Marketing is easily one of the most expensive parts of making a book, and with digital media here to stay, publishers use any digital marketing tools they can for promotion. With video media sites like Youtube reporting a 100 percent increase in consumption every year, and 90 percent of users saying that product videos are helpful in the decision process (find more information at Hubspot), reaching consumers through visual marketing is a necessity. The response to this necessity is *insert drum roll here* book trailers!

Publishers have been responding to these trends by creating trailers as part of book marketing plans, even when it’s apparent that their budget is tight, and consumers are not impressed. By not impressed, I mean forever screaming into the void “WE DO NOT WANT BOOK TRAILERS”. A quick Google search for the term “book trailers” spits out tons of articles criticizing many book trailers and praising few.

While the research shows that these product videos should be selling more books, consumers are not interacting as much as expected. For example, Penguin Random House has created a series of trailers for Vox by Christina Dalcher.

This series currently consists of five trailers that are twenty-five seconds long, and one trailer that is thirty-four seconds long. Each video, except trailer five, is set like a confessional, with different women explaining their lives before (sorry, no spoilers here!). Trailer five, however, appears to be much more like what we would consider a traditional trailer. This video series is a great sample to show the contrast of engagement these trailers are receiving, as they are each so similar in length. The views are as follows:

  • Vox Trailer 1: Bedtime Stories—36K views
  • Vox Trailer 2: Classroom—296 views
  • Vox Trailer 3: Surgeon—143 views
  • Vox Trailer 4: Group—79K views
  • Vox Trailer 5—234 views
  • Vox Trailer 6: Boardroom—244 views

You would think that trailer five, the one most like a trailer, would have the most engagement. However, the two with the most engagement are confessionals, and these videos are extreme outliers even when compared to each other.

A big publisher like Penguin has lots of money for marketing plans, and this trailer series was a quality trailer. Where engagement is falling short remains unknown. While many book nerds may blame the hastily put together and low-budget trailers for their distrust and dislike for the book trailer (see Paul McCartney’s Hey Grandude trailer), even trailers like the Vox series, which was heavily followed and anticipated, are missing audiences on video platforms.

Now, you may be wondering, with engagement and the general opinion of book trailers so low, why would publishers continue making them? Isn’t that money being wasted?

When it comes to marketing, the goal is to reach as many buyers through as many channels as possible. And whether they reach two hundred buyers or two million criticizers, the information is received, and publishers are still making sales.

Book trailers aren’t going anywhere, and no matter how tacky or low budget, the book is probably better than the trailer lets on. So don’t judge a book by its trailer.

Bonus: If you’re looking for an article about the usefulness of book trailers, you can find that here.