What keeps a novel from getting noticed? Hint: it ain’t necessarily talent alone. In a recent post on, veteran novelist Karen Karbo contrasted ideas about what keeps novels from getting noticed. To highlight these myths and truths, Karbo describes her blockades to literary success in the 1990s versus similar blockades now. To Karbo, there were only two reasons why novels failed to breakout twenty years ago—the novel was poorly written or the novelist failed to actually complete the manuscript—while there are more fifteen different reasons today. Some of Karbo’s choicest points:

  • You think platforms are shoes.
  • You think branding is best left to cattle.
  • You look like a basset hound on Skype and thus shun the all-important Skype book club appearances.
  • You have less than 3,000 Twitter followers.
  • Your Facebook author page has less than 1,000 followers.
  • Your LinkedIn… [frick], you don’t even know what that is.

Even though her reasons are tongue-in-cheek, there’s truth amid the jokes. These cavities of commercial failure share a common cause: lack of cutting-edge multimedia marketing techniques! (Gasp!)

Through multimedia marketing, authors can transform their novel’s PR and sell their books like never before. In today’s blog post, I’m going to take a look at one social media marketing technique in particular: using video-sharing sites to launch your book trailer.

Video-sharing sites take the transmedia advertising element of image-sharing sites and blow it way, way, way up—especially with this platform’s most engaging product: book trailers. Producing and uploading a stellar book trailer to YouTube or Vimeo offers writers a chance to break their book out of the mold.

Take megahit Fifty Shades of Grey for example. Perhaps romance novels aren’t your cup of rosé, but let’s pretend they are. The PR math is simple here. Why offer your readers a simple synopsis and one steaming-hot book cover (hubba hubba) when you can get them screaming and straight-up twerking for your book with an entire montage of sizzling images taken from the book? That’s a cheesy example, no doubt, but that’s the power of the book trailer: it allows the author (and publisher) to expand the brand ecology of the novel and lure in an audience that otherwise wouldn’t take interest in the book. And even though most book trailers are only viewed by industry professionals, having a book trailer might just help an author break into the big time (via viral sites like Buzzfeed or Huffington Post), or at least improve an author’s chances of getting noticed by publishers.

Bonus: book trailers also offer authors opportunities to demonstrate how weird, artsy, or toad-lickin’ crazy they are.

Bonus bonus: there’s a small yet devoted crowd of YouTubers who do nothing but vlog about their favorite books—running a generic YouTube search for “Top Books of 20xx” yields videos with hundreds of thousands of view counts—and considering devotees (and their followers) usually make the best consumers, having a book trailer could help land your book in a vlogger’s lap and vault it to the top of the bestsellers list.

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