Do Book Trailers Work? No. Book Trailers Do Not Work.

We have this crazy rule at Columbus Publishing Lab: we won’t try to sell people things they don’t need, or things that won’t work.

Let me jump to the point—book trailers don’t sell books.  If your intent is to increase the sales of your book, trailers are a waste of time and money.

If you insist you want to throw away your money so you can be the coolest author on the block, we’ll do our best work and facilitate it. But let me be frank: your book trailer is not going to be the exception, even if it’s exceptional, and it’s not going to sell books.

We’ve experimented with book trailers. After all, everybody’s doing it.  We’ve made trailers with live actors and Hollywood-caliber production, top-notch stuff like the one below.  This thing is awesome, but trailers don’t sell books, and this one was no exception.

Any promotional effort will have a fractional conversion rate. Which is to say, of all of the people who are exposed to your marketing, a percentage will actually buy the product. As an example, only a small percentage of drivers who see the billboard about a McDonald’s at Exit 38 are hungry, and fewer still will want a Big Mac.  When it comes to marketing, a “conversion” is a person who is exposed to your marketing and takes the action you want them to take—i.e. buys a product, joins an email list, donates to an organization, watches a TV show, etc.

There’s a lot of variation based on type of promotion, but to generalize web marketing across all industries, a 1% conversion rate is good, .1% is fine (1 in 1,000 respond), and a 5% response rate is ungodly.  ***NB: A like/retweet/comment/etc. on social media is great, but it should never be the objective and it’s not a “conversion.”  An effective web marketing campaign should have a far higher response/interaction rate than 1%.

The goal of any book promotion (a “conversion”) is the sale of one book.  This means that if 1 out of every 100 people who see your promotion buy your book, you’re doing exceptionally well.

What happens in real life is that authors end up spending their time promoting their book trailer.  They promote the book trailer by graffiti-ing every social media platform with the link to YouTube.  On a good day, 1% of the people who see the link actually go and watch the thing. Then of those who watch it, 1% (best case scenario) actually go and purchase the book.  You’ve just fractionalized your fraction,  and now you’re pulling a .01% total conversion rate on the project.

Instead of promoting a book trailer to promote a book, just promote your book directly.  If our goal is to sell books, a well-crafted “Hey go watch my book trailer,” is about 1/100th as effective as a well-crafted “Hey go buy my book.”

And we haven’t even mentioned the fact that a really good book trailer will cost well over $1,000, if not far more.  Your conversion rate on most of the poorly-produced videos on YouTube is virtually 0.

There are some exceptions:

  1. The book trailer is so exceptional that a viewer just has to share it with everyone they know. This is extremely difficult. Book trailers are essentially commercials, and how many commercials do you see shared on Facebook? The average cost to produce a national-TV-quality commercial is $342,000, and even these are rarely shared.
  2. The book trailer is a second-hit. We have a rule in our promotions—nobody does anything they’re not told to do at least twice. If your book is already saturating the general population, a book trailer can be an effective follow-up to seal the deal.  As in, you were on Good Morning America this morning, and curious readers are now actively searching for materials about your book.
  3. If Crowdfunding is part of your strategy (i.e. Kickstarter or Indiegogo), a video works. Crowdfunding audiences are predisposed to watch videos, because it’s part of the culture of the platform.  The format of this type of video will be different from a “book trailer.”
  4. Other types of videos can work. If you’re an expert or you have something to offer, and you can make videos that do more than just promote the book—for instance, solve a problem, explain a concept, or make people laugh—something which is genuinely good, entertaining and helpful, you can promote your personal brand and sell books as an ancillary benefit. This is a far different approach from a book trailer, however.  In other words, not all videos are bad, just book trailers.

We believe that self-publishing works when it’s done right.  The fact is, our clients think videos are cool and I wish they worked—they can be a lot of fun to make, and it would be a cool service to offer.  But in good conscience, it’s not a service that we can stand behind.

At the end of the day, book trailers are more about the author’s vanity. And we don’t do vanity here. We do professional results and we do return on investment.

Take it from us, skip the book trailer and save your money. There are better ways to promote your book.

Have you ever purchased a book because you saw a book trailer? Let us know in the comments.

Every book is different.  At Columbus Publishing Lab, we tailor a marketing plan specifically for your book, to meet your goals, using methods that are proven and effective. Contact us to discuss your book today.

Professional Results for Professional Authors – The Story of Brad and the Plumber

I’m a bit of a handyman.  I live in an old two-story farmhouse, and there’s always something to be fixed, updated or remodeled.  Most of the work I can do myself—in fact, there are very few times that I need to call in a “professional,” (a fact I’m very proud of). I save a lot of money by doing the work myself, and truthfully I enjoy it.

Roof Framing Brad Pauquette

My 7-year-old son and me framing in the roof tie-in.

But on the occasions that I do call someone in, I’m almost always impressed with the results.  The right home repair professional knows how to make everything come together just right, it always looks so clean and perfect when they’re done.

A professional does the exact same job as I would do, and follows the same functional steps, but they bring three important things to the table:

  1. They do this task everyday, so they’re practiced.
  2. The have exactly the right tools for the job.
  3. They know all of the tricks and all of the pitfalls, so it turns out just right.

My wife’s 90-year-old grandmother moved in with us this fall, so with only one bathroom upstairs we added a first floor bedroom and bathroom for her over the summer.  I ended up doing most of the work myself.

I had done each of the individual tasks involved in building an addition at least one time before here or there, but I don’t do any of them frequently and I’d never done all of the pieces at once.  I was out of practice.

Sometimes I would find myself reaching for the vice grips, instead of whatever specialty wrench the job required, because I didn’t want to drop $60 for a tool I was only going to use once. It worked, but the nut would end up with little scratches on it or something would be just a degree off-center.  Or I’d find myself trying to make a hole-saw work that wasn’t exactly the right size, because I didn’t want to run out to the hardware store again.

And sometimes, I’d get halfway through a job and think, “I wish I would have started on the other side of the room.”  I just didn’t have enough experience to recognize all of the ways to make the job perfect, or to see all of the areas which might be more difficult.

It was all little tiny things. Things you wouldn’t notice individually unless you knew what to look for. But taken as a total, there is a perceivably lesser quality to my handiwork than that of a professional.

I did hire a plumber to install the shower for me. He knew exactly what he was doing.  He did it in half the time I would have because he does that kind of thing every day.  He had exactly the right tools for every part of the job—$60 for a specialty wrench which will make the job quicker and better is well worth it, even if he only uses it a couple times each week.   And before he even got started, he looked over our framing and recognized a few potential areas that might interfere with the shower placement.  With his instruction I made a few adjustments so that everything would come together perfectly.

My work is good. But the professional plumber did it better, he did it quicker, and even though it cost far more than if I did it myself, it was worth every penny.

At Columbus Publishing Lab, we’re professional book producers.   Hats off to those of you do-it-yourself book producers who can complete all of the steps, but we believe that the quality of our books speaks for the value of hiring a professional.  And we know that the royalty checks our authors receive dwarf the royalties of their average DIY peers.  One big reason our authors make more is the professional quality of their finished book.

Just like your plumber or electrician, there are three things that make our results better: We practice this every day; we have all of the right tools (thousands of dollars in software and hardware); and we know all of the tricks and pitfalls.

And there’s another factor that makes our results truly professional: Producing a book isn’t just one job, it’s five unique skillsets, each of which takes years of daily practice to learn and perfect.  We have individuals in-house who are experienced professionals at every single step of the process—developmental editing, copy editing, interior design, proofreading and cover design. Even our methods of distribution and fulfillment took years to develop, let alone a comprehensive and effective marketing system.

I may know how to do a little plumbing, a bit of drywall and a lot of electrical.  But it would be inconceivable that as a hobbyist, I’m as good at every single job required to build a house as specialized professionals would be—excavating, cement pouring, block laying, framing, roofing, drywall, plumbing, electrical, flooring, siding, window installation, to name a few.

Some authors just want to do it themselves.  I get that.  I enjoy working on my house. Most of the time, even if it’s not quite as good, I’d rather be proud of my own work than pay someone else.

But there is a place for hiring professionals.  If you’re serious about creating a book that will compete in the marketplace with books coming out of the major publishing houses, you need a product that is built to the same quality standard.  You need all five steps of the publication process to be clean and perfect.

We’re here to help.  Whether you need all five steps of the publication process, or just a little bit of help, we’d love to work with you to make your book the best that it can be.  You’ve worked too hard to let a few hundred dollars stand between your manuscript and success.

-Brad Pauquette, CEO

Ready to publish? Let’s talk.  Email us at info@columbuspublishinglab.com.

Want to learn more about the “Five-Step Publication Process”?  Click here to snag a free copy of my book, The Self-Publishing Handbook, which outlines the full process.  It’s a great resource, whether you choose to publish through Columbus Publishing Lab or DIY.

Find more fun photos of our home addition project on my wife and I’s blog here.

Now Hiring: Digital Production Intern

We are hiring for an in-house position at our office in Zanesville, Ohio.

We have listed this position as an internship, however, applicants seeking full-time work are encouraged to apply.  Pay rate is negotiable for candidates with a developed skillset and experience.

JOB TITLE: Digital Production Intern

DESCRIPTION: The Digital Production Intern will assist the production team in the creation of e-books, audiobooks and website materials.

The intern should have a keen interest in book publication, with a willingness to learn new skills. The ideal candidate works well in an unsupervised environment, and understands the value of producing professional, consistent results. As an exceptional communicator, the intern should be open to constructive criticism, and have realistic expectations for a production environment.

The ideal candidate has a basic understanding of HTML code, as well as an impeccable sense of English spelling and grammar.

Self-taught and unconventional candidates are encouraged to apply.

The intern will learn to independently complete the following tasks:
Creation of e-books (HTML)
Creation of audiobooks
Website coding (HTML, PHP, JavaScript)
Social Media Marketing

COMPENSATION & COMMITMENT: $9 per hour, beginning at 10 hours per week.
Additional hours are available for interns who quickly demonstrate proficiency. There is strong potential to lead to full-time employment for the right candidate.

A higher pay rate is available for applicants who can demonstrate a developed HTML skillset.

We would like to fill this internship ASAP.

INSTRUCTIONS FOR APPLICATION: Interested candidates should email info@columbuspublishinglab.com with their name, contact information, an introductory letter, and resume.

Now Hiring Digital Production Intern

The Deceived — Proving Press

The Deceived by E. C. Fisher is a work of dark, biblical fantasy. The book opens with the death of God, and then launches readers into an epic good-versus-evil story that pits the Archangel Michael against monsters, demons and Lucifer. Set in the post-apocalyptic landscape of the Rapture, Michael and his ragtag group of followers set off on a desperate journey to save the souls of all humanity.

The Deceived tells a story E. C. Fisher felt compelled to write. He wrote the book quickly, his manuscript taking shape around his own frustrations with the real-world troubles humanity grapples with today. After receiving favorable feedback from his peers, Fisher began the process of finding a publisher who would allow him to retain creative control over his debut novel, and his relationship with Columbus Publishing Lab began.

Fisher chose the Catalyst package–everything he needed for a professionally produced novel, with the extra support of a marketing foundation to help boost his work into the hands of readers. Learn more about publishing packages here. 

We got right to work. Fisher worked with an outside copy editor prior to contracting Columbus Publishing Lab, and so our first step was to take his raw manuscript file and create a custom interior design for The Deceived. Our designer chose an aesthetic to reflect the dark tones of the book, while maintaining a simple, readable layout.

Writers spend a lot of time in the worlds they create for their characters. Fisher wanted The Deceived cover to represent his ideation of Lucifer, and he provided detailed notes describing what he was looking for–down to the facial structure and hairstyle of his antagonist.  These instructions were then provided to one of our professional illustrators, who transformed Fisher’s words into a provocative, illustrative cover.

After the interior design was complete our proofreader combed through the manuscript again, searching for any last-minute errors, while also checking design elements like page numbers, headers and spacing. Our e-book designer then created a digital version of The Deceived that’s readable across all major e-book platforms.

While the book was in production, our web developer created an author website designed to be a tool to reach more readers, and a showcase for current and future work by E. C. Fisher. Built on a simple WordPress platform, Fisher’s website is easy to update, customize, and blog from at any time.

Check out E. C. Fisher’s author site here.

Given the thrilling story line and thought-provoking themes in the book, The Deceived was sure to garner some attention. But with so much self-promotion work needed to make even the most exciting new release stand out, Fisher enlisted the help of Columbus Publishing Lab to boost his marketing efforts in the critical time following his book’s release. We created printed marketing materials he could hand out at readings and conferences, helped with content creation, social media management, and acted as his publicist to help solicit reviews.

Learn more about our marketing services here.

The Deceived is distributed through our Proving Press imprint to all major retailers. E. C. Fisher collects a quarterly check for his sales, without the hassle of running to the post office, storing and warehousing orders, or paying for them upfront. This leaves him time to market his debut novel, and work on his second one.

Find The Deceived on Amazon.com here.

Throughout the entire publishing process Fisher had a dedicated point of contact to answer his questions and provide him with updates. He never had to wonder if his emails were being read, or if his project would be completed on time. This level of service is standard procedure at Columbus Publishing Lab.

Do you have a book that you felt compelled to write? We want to hear about it. Click here to contact us and learn more about the personal publishing experience we create for our authors.

Maman — Boyle & Dalton

Maman weaves the life story of a Jewish-Iranian woman whose identity is fiercely bound to her family, her country and her faith. Married at a very young age, Maman raised seven children in the midst of poverty and the chaos of political upheaval in Iran. Moris Niknam, one of those seven children, tells his mother’s story with a nostalgic love through memories both sweet and heart-wrenching.

We worked with Boyle & Dalton, the publisher of Maman, to provide editing, design and marketing services, so the finished book would reflect the heartfelt effort Moris Niknam put into chronicling his mother’s extraordinary life.

The first step in the publishing process was a developmental edit. After reading the entire manuscript, an experienced developmental editor provided Moris with a detailed report containing recommendations to improve areas of concern. As a result, Moris was able to act on the suggestions of our editor to vastly improve Maman before the book was released to readers.

Next, a professional copy editor combed through the manuscript correcting spelling, grammar and punctuation mistakes, as well as standardizing the manuscript to a style guide. Our editor worked closely with the author to ensure the Persian language used throughout the book was formatted accurately.

After the copy edit was complete, our interior designer set to work creating a custom aesthetic to be both elegant and readable. We also incorporated pictures provided by Moris to better illustrate his upbringing in Iran, seamlessly building them into the design.

As soon as the interior design was complete our proofreader checked the entire manuscript a final time, searching through the text and the design for any last-minute errors.

Our cover designer worked with Moris and his publisher to incorporate several family photographs, creating a dynamic cover design that commemorates Maman while attracting passing readers to her story.

We distributed Maman in paperback and e-book formats to all major retailers as soon as Moris was completely happy with his final files. Maman is readily available to readers, and Moris collects a quarterly check for his sales without the need to store, ship or purchase copies of his book up front.

Find Maman on Amazon.com here.

Moris spread the word to his friends and family about the release of Maman, but wanted to expand the reach of his story. Columbus Publishing Lab provided marketing services to Moris following the release of his book to help get Maman into the hands of more readers.

Throughout the entire publishing process Moris had a dedicated point of contact for questions and updates. Calls were answered or returned, emails were read and promptly answered, and a close-knit team who actually cared about his book brought the project to fruition.

If you’re interested in making your book project a reality, we invite you to contact us by clicking here. We’re happy to sit down with you for a free consultation, or answer your questions via email/phone.

A Little Book About Big Bullies — Proving Press

Despite Roxanne Price’s hectic work schedule, she already had a complete, edited, illustrated children’s book when we first met with her. Roxanne’s book, A Little Book About Big Bullies, is a full color picture book with activities designed to make kids think about how they treat their peers.

Find A Little Book About Big Bullies on Amazon here. 

Having already published a book with a large self-publishing company in the past, Roxanne was looking for a straightforward local company who could provide print-on-demand distribution and inexpensive printed copies, without eating up the lion’s share of her profits.

Roxanne came to our initial consultation prepared with smart questions and a keen sense for how she could make a partnership with Columbus Publishing Lab work for her book. After comparing our prices to those of other companies, Roxanne decided to distribute her book through our Proving Press imprint.

Learn more about printing and distribution services here.

We worked with Roxanne’s illustrator to ensure her files were up to spec for our printer, checking elements like the bleed, spine and formatting. We also provided an ISBN and barcode for her book.

As soon as the files were ready, we distributed A Little Book About Big Bullies to major online retailers. Parents, students and educators can now easily find and purchase the book in a seamless process that’s completely hands-off for Roxanne. She’s able to maintain her busy schedule without the interruption of taking orders, warehousing books or waiting in line at the post office. She collects a check for her sales, and we handle the rest.

Our distribution services also include setup with our printer. Roxanne is able to purchase copies of her book at a significant discount off the list price, in any quantity at any time. We ship books straight to her door, or anywhere across the world.

Throughout the entire publishing process Roxanne had a dedicated point of contact at Columbus Publishing Lab. We were there to answer her questions, guide her illustrator, and provide her with the information and expertise she needed to stay in the loop about her project.

Whether your project is complete, or your manuscript is a raw file on your computer, we’d love to hear about your book. We help authors and publishers at all stages of the publishing process produce professional books. Contact us here for more information.

Call Me Bud — Custom Publishing Package

Often when we publish books it’s because authors are trying to reach larger audiences–sharing their story with the world. But sometimes the smaller the audience the more profound the impact.

Such was the case with Call Me Bud, the memoir of 95-year-old WWII veteran Bud Embree.

Sharon Embree, Bud’s daughter-in-law, contacted us about publishing the memoir she had compiled from Bud’s writings over the years, along with photographs and documents from Bud’s time as an artillery pilot in WWII.

The completed book was to be presented to Bud as a surprise at his upcoming birthday party. With this deadline on our radar, we got to work.

Our interior designer took the materials provided by Sharon and created a custom aesthetic, separating the memoir into chapters by dates in Bud’s life. We kept the design simple and readable, while incorporating design elements that reflected Bud’s service in the air force.

After the text had been professionally laid out, we created a gallery of photos and documents at the end of the book, sharpening the images as needed to make them stand out in print.

Our cover designer took several of the photos taken during the time of Bud’s service (including a dashing photo of Bud in uniform), combining them into a custom cover design.

After Sharon was completely happy with the final files, we uploaded the book to the printer and shipped the book copies off in time for Bud’s birthday surprise, ready to be handed down to grandchildren and to generations still to come.

“I wrote this down so that my children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren would learn about the Great Depression and World War II, and so they could come to understand my life a little better.”

–Bud Embree, Call Me Bud

From books designed to reach the masses, to those special projects that mean the most to just a few,  Columbus Publishing Lab handles each project with care, attention to detail and personalized service that shows in the final product. If you have a book project on the shelf, large or small, we invite you to contact us.

Hockey Daze — Proving Press

Rolf Remlinger is a funny guy who loves hockey. For the past 25+ years he’s been illustrating the humor he finds on the ice, delighting sports fans with hockey comics in the style of Gary Larson. His work has been featured in the Cleveland Plain Dealer, Hockey Ink, Hockey Stop and Michigan Hockey.

When Rolf came to Columbus Publishing Lab he had a stack of paper comics succumbing to the ravages of time. To accompany these he also had a host of extras: press passes, article clips and insider hockey knowledge.  Rather than let his work be lost to fading ink and yellowing paper, we were ready to preserve his collection forever by publishing Hockey Daze.

After an initial consultation, Rolf decided the Solution Package best fit his needs. Our first step was to copy edit the text that accompanied Rolf’s comics, correcting errors of spelling, grammar and punctuation, as well as standardizing it to a style guide.

Learn more about our self-publishing packages here.

After the text had been professionally edited, the bulk of our work went into arranging the materials Rolf had provided in a fun, readable way. Our interior book designer matched each comic with a caption containing behind-the-scenes information about its creation, and added fun details like extra pen-and-ink illustrations, copies of press passes and articles Rolf had accumulated over the years.

After the interior files had been created, a proofreader combed through the book files, catching any last errors in the text or layout. We also created an e-book version of the book, designed specifically to be readable across all major e-book platforms.

Rolf provided his own cover design, and our team added the final elements like the barcode and book description, while ensuring the cover was formatted correctly for print.

As soon as Rolf was completely happy with the final files, we distributed Hockey Daze  in paperback and e-book formats to all major retailers. Rolf collects a check, and we handle all the hard work. The convenience of our distribution services gets Hockey Daze in the hands of hockey fans without the need for Rolf to miss a single game.

Find Hockey Daze for sale here. 

Our distribution services also include setup with our printer. Rolf can purchase books in any quantity from us at a significant discount off the list price, which allows him to offer special signed copies to friends and family, and through his existing website.

Throughout the entire publishing process, Rolf had a dedicated point of contact for questions and updates. He never had to wonder if his emails were being read, and a friendly Ohioan was available to take his calls every time.

If you’re interested in making your book project a reality, we invite you to contact us by clicking here. We’re happy to sit down with you for a free consultation, or answer your questions via email/phone.

We produce great books of all kinds. Will yours be next?

Colorblind — Proving Press

Doug Fernbacher is a father, entrepreneur, star of TLC’s reality show Rattled, and an perf8.000x8.000.inddauthor. He’s a busy guy with an appreciation for work done well the first time.

Doug wrote a children’s book called Colorblind to teach kids (and parents too!) that although families may not look alike, we all have more in common than we think. After his reality TV stint Doug wanted to utilize the platform of fans and followers he’d gained and convert them into readers. He worked with an illustrator who created artwork for the Colorblind storyline, after which Doug had a small test run of books printed.

But the quality of the books and a lack of distribution was limiting Doug’s reach. Every media appearance was an opportunity, but he had no way to connect his potential readers with a high-quality, easily accessible product.

Enter: Columbus Publishing Lab

When Doug contacted us he needed two things: The ability to have professional-quality books printed at an affordable cost, and an outlet for readers to purchase Colorblind that didn’t suck time and energy from Doug’s life. With the next season of Rattled set to air, buzz about the show was growing. It was time to act fast or lose PR.

Just hours after meeting with Doug and learning his situation, the Columbus Publishing Lab team started working to produce a paperback, hardback and e-book version of Colorblind. Our interior designer reformatted the artwork files from Doug’s illustrator, making sure everything was sized, laid out, and formatted correctly for print. Instead of a flimsy stapled paperback, Doug’s books would be professionally bound and printed in vibrant full color, complete with an ISBN, barcode and Library of Congress number.

Within two weeks of that first meeting with Doug our distribution services had Colorblind up for sale on Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com. And just like that, when Doug plugs his book in interviews, media appearances and on social media, his followers can easily find, order and receive Colorblind in a seamless process that takes no time from Doug’s busy life.

Check out Colorblind on Amazon here.

Because Colorblind is set up with our printer, book copies are available to Doug at a significant discount off the list price. When Doug and his wife Marsadie took Colorblind on the road to conventions, we were able to ship books to venues across the country, ready for them to sign and sell.

Along every step of the publishing process Doug had a personal contact at Columbus Publishing Lab, ready to respond to phone calls and emails without delay, answer questions and provide updates as needed.

“I really appreciate the stellar customer service you’ve shown us so far–you really don’t get it as much these days!”

With the help of Columbus Publishing Lab, Doug Fernbacher was able to publish a beautiful book, make it easily available to readers, and have printed copies readily available for his promotion efforts. He owns 100% of his rights, and the only upkeep to deal with is cashing a check for quarterly sales.

Learn more about our publishing packages and services here. 

Whether you want control over every step of your book project, or you’re short on time and need us to handle the details, Columbus Publishing Lab can provide a custom publishing experience to fit your needs. Don’t let that manuscript sit in a drawer.

Contact us here.

Project Updates

We’ve been so busy producing books for authors and small presses that we’ve neglected to share all of the neat projects we’ve completed over the past several months. Starting next week we’ll begin posting case studies detailing the publishing process for each recent Columbus Publishing Lab book. Here’s a teaser of what you’ll find in our updated catalog of work:

  • An incredible true account of World War I converted from a typewriter-written manuscript to a printed book, ready to be passed on to future generations.
  • An award-winning novel shedding light on the dark underworld of sex-trafficking in small town America.
  • A children’s book from a TLC reality TV star.
  • The second volume of a popular Columbus-centric coloring book featuring hand-drawn scenes of the city’s most iconic neighborhoods.

This is just a small sample of the cool books we’ve published, and we can’t wait to tell you about all of them! Follow us on social media (Facebook here, Twitter here) to get updates on our goings on, insights into the publishing industry, and the occasional grammar joke.

Columbus Publishing Lab is a close-knit company made up of hardworking people dedicated to professionally producing books. We provide a personal publishing experience to each of our authors, with the same high-quality services you would expect from a traditional publisher. If you have a manuscript you’d like to publish, contact us here.