Category Archives: Publishing Information & Advice

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.

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–almost all of our competitors offer book trailers, and we get tons of requests for them.  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. Not good.

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.  While this blog post is about a marketing method that doesn’t work, we have a toolbox full of methods that DO work.  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

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.

May 2016 Newsletter

You can’t spell “marketing” without “mark.”

Marketing tip: Know exactly who you’re trying to capture.

Most amateur marketing campaigns suffer from overgeneralization. I know what you’re bullseyethinking: “I don’t want to exclude any potential buyers.” But the truth is that if you’re creating a marketing campaign that will appeal to everyone, then you’re creating a marketing campaign that probably won’t motivate anyone. The person who is exposed to your advertising can’t just “like” it, it needs to be powerful enough to motivate them to take an action. If you’ve ever practiced archery, you know that the more specific your target is, the more accurate you’ll be. Aim small, miss small. The same is true for marketing campaigns, and the lower your budget, the truer this principle is.

As you consider marketing anything—yourself, your book, your business (and if it’s a book, you’re marketing all three of those things)—your first step is to succinctly identify your target. As a fun writing exercise, describe them exactly. Where are they right now, what are they wearing, what’s the last book they read, movie they watched, what did they eat for breakfast? I know you want everyone to buy your book, but who would be the BEST person to buy your book? Who’s going to like it the most? Once you know who your mark is, you can begin to formulate a plan to motivate exactly that person. Lucky for you, there are more than 300 million people in the United States, and at least a few of them are exactly like the person you’ve described.

When you have $1,000 to spend on marketing, it would be foolish to think that you can capture everyone. But no matter how specific your criteria get, there are $1,000 worth of people like them out there in the world, and if you appropriately identify them, you can target the buyers who want exactly what you have to offer.

When you market, know your mark. Aim small.

-CEO Brad Pauquette

 Want to be first to receive tips like this one? Sign up for our mailing list! Every new subscriber gets a free PDF of The Self-Publishing Handbook by Brad Pauquette, and we solemnly swear never to spam you. Click here to sign up or learn more

Two Ways to Nab The Self-Publishing Handbook for Free

The Self-Publishing Handbook by Brad Pauquette was written to be a resource for writers. Self-Publishing Handbook by Brad PauquetteYears and years of publishing experience have been condensed into this easy to read manual, in hopes that those considering self-publishing will make smart, educated choices.

We could direct you to buy the handbook, but we’d rather give it away for free. We do our best to promote education within the self-publishing community, and if one person’s self-publishing experience improves because of this book, that’s worth it to us.

Through December 28, there are two ways you can get a copy of The Self-Publishing Handbook for free.

1. Sign up for our mailing list. If you want a version of the book you can read anywhere, join our mailing list and receive a free PDF of the book, delivered straight to your email. We solemnly swear never to spam you, and you’ll get advance notice of seminars and giveaways, in addition to self-publishing tips you won’t find anywhere else.

Click here to get your free PDF of The Self-Publishing Handbook.

2. Enter to win a paperback copy in our Goodreads giveaway. We’re giving away five copies of The Self-Publishing Handbook in a Goodreads Giveaway. If you prefer a good old-fashioned paperback, then this giveaway is for you! The giveaway is free to enter, and it’s open for entries until December 28. Click here (or the box below) to enter. 

Goodreads Book Giveaway

The Self-Publishing Handbook by Brad Pauquette

The Self-Publishing Handbook

by Brad Pauquette

Giveaway ends December 28, 2015.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

The self-publishing industry is huge. With so many choices, it can be hard to know which services are worthwhile, and which ones are a waste of time and money. The Self-Publishing Handbook is your guide to navigating the publishing process, no matter which route you choose. From hiring professionals, to D.I.Y. tips, this compact book separates worthwhile services from scams, and gets you on your way to producing an excellent book.

Nab a free copy of this book while you can!

Questions? Contact us by clicking here. 

Self-Publishing Simplified (In 21 GIFs)

Writers are so cool. You should become a writer.









So write something already.

it's hard







You got this.

Writing words








After a lot of in-between stuff (mostly drinking and browsing the Internet), you finally finish a manuscript.








You start querying, but publishers are all like:


Nope GIF








So you go through the five stages of rejection: Rage, indignation, indifference, alcohol, and finally:











After you’ve recovered (if you ever recover) you decide to start pursuing other options. Self-publishing is so easy! And free! Who needs professionals? Not you.

Monkey typing








You’re at a crossroads. Publish RIGHT NOW, or do things right?

What is right







You decide to do some research. Good for you.

Homework research







Maybe you shouldn’t do it all yourself. After all, your novel deserves the best. You hire some professionals to help you along the way.










You’re doing it. You’re really doing it. YOU’RE PUBLISHING A BOOK.

Signing with a self-publishing company








Meanwhile, your editor sees your manuscript for the first time.

editor GIF









So you revise.

Typing GIF









Your cover designer gets all artsy-fartsy-awesome.

Artys fartsy
















Turns out those professionals were a good idea. After a lot of behind-the-scenes work, your book is everything you dreamed it would be.  

finally published








Now it’s time to make some money!








Crap. Marketing is hard.

blog marketing









Reviewers can be brutal.








But nobody can keep you down for long. This book is going to work.










You FINALLY sell some books. Looks like that hard work is paying off. You’re so awesome.

You're so awesome






Now start over.

Panda new


Tomorrow! — Free Self-Publishing Seminar

Join us tomorrow evening at the London, Ohio Library for a free Self-Publishing Seminar. London-Public-LibraryWhether you’re an aspiring author or an accomplished novelist, this seminar is filled with valuable information for anyone interested in how successful books are produced.

The seminar will last from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. with a Q&A session afterward. The London Library is located at: 20 E. First Street, London, Ohio 43140. This event is free and open to the public. No RSVP required.

Find this event on the library’s website here. 

Columbus Publishing Lab CEO, Brad Pauquette, has been helping authors at all levels successfully navigate the publishing industry for almost a decade. In this seminar he’ll cover the five key steps to producing a professional book. From editing and cover design to pricing and distribution, learn how to turn your manuscript into a marketable book.

If you’re considering self-publishing, do your homework. Read up on your options and don’t let free resources like this seminar pass you by. We’ll see you there!

Questions? Email us at

Can’t make the seminar? Get smart self-publishing advice here in The Self-Publishing Handbook. P.S. It’s free!

Free Publishing Seminar — London Library

The London Public Library will be hosting a free Self-Publishing Seminar on Tuesday, March 31 from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. The library is located at: 20 E. First Street, London, Ohio 43140. Bring your publishing questions! There will be a Q&A session after the seminar.

Find this event on the Library’s website here. 

Whether you’ve completed a manuscript or you’re interested in how great books are produced, this seminar will teach you the ins and outs of the publishing industry. Columbus Publishing Lab CEO, Brad Pauquette, will cover the five key steps to producing a professional book, and teach you how to find success no matter what your experience or budget.

Here are just a few of the topics we’ll cover on Tuesday:

  • Editing: There’s more to editing than just correcting typos. Learn the difference between developmental editing, proofreading and copy editing, as well as how to hire the right person for each job.
  • Book cover design: Your readers WILL judge your book by its cover. Learn tips for creating a cover that speaks to your target audience, all while staying within your budget.
  • Distribution: ISBNs, barcodes, discounts, print on demand–book distribution can be a complicated process. Learn how to make your book available to readers around the world simply and easily.

From your word processor to the bookstore shelf, a lot of work goes into creating a professional self-published book. Don’t miss this free seminar for all the knowledge you need to make your book project a reality!

Questions? Email us at

Now Accepting Manuscripts

Calling all authors!

Columbus Publishing Lab is currently accepting manuscripts. Whether you’ve written the next great American novel, or you’ve documented your story in a memoir, we can help turn your manuscript into a professional product.

There are lots of self-publishing companies out there, but we pride ourselves on being different. Here’s what sets us apart:

  • We’re not a book factory. We have experience-tested processes, but we understand that not all books are created equal. A fantasy book requires a different touch than a contemporary fiction novel, and a book of poetry is a whole different animal. Too  many big self-publishers treat every book the same. We understand that your project is unique, and we’re here to make sure your vision is actualized.
  • You get a personal experience. Columbus Publishing Lab is a collective of experts, and we’re all working to make your book a success. When you have a question, or need an update on a project, you’ll have a dedicated representative ready to take your calls and answer your emails. You can expect conversations with real human beings, not voicemail robots.
  • We’re an open book. We started Columbus Publishing Lab because we were tired of seeing self-published authors get coerced into purchasing sub-par services, and talked into unnecessary expenses. We pride ourselves on being open and honest with our authors. You keep 100% of your rights, you receive 80% of net earnings, and we’ll never try to sell you a service you don’t want/need.

If you’re interested in becoming a Columbus Publishing Lab author, I invite you to contact us directly via email at or call us at: (614) 441-9777. We’d love to chat about your book project over a cup of coffee.

Author Spotlight: R.K. Blessing

Maybe we’re a little biased, but we think Columbus Publishing Lab authors are pretty clare r coverawesome. We recently had a chat with R.K. Blessing, author of Clare R., to talk about his self-publishing experience.

Find Clare R. on here.

Like every author who has finished a manuscript, Blessing had to make a decision. Self-publish, or seek out a traditional publisher? For Blessing, self-publishing made the most sense.

Blessing said he first learned about Columbus Publishing Lab after attending a self-publishing seminar. “It was very informative and really got me thinking about the route of self-publishing. It seemed much more viable, and made the idea of publishing seem that much more possible. In other words, I could make a dream become a reality,” Blessing said.

After doing researching on self-publishing companies, Blessing decided to stop into our office and see if Columbus Publishing Lab would be a good fit for his project. “Being able to meet with a group of people in-person and discuss the hard copy of my work was a no-brainer,” Blessing said.

Blessing knew his novel wasn’t ready to go to print right away, and he was dedicated to improving it before handing it over to his readers. After choosing Columbus Publishing Lab,  he commissioned a developmental edit to ensure he received detailed, professional feedback on his manuscript. Blessing said he was nervous to place his first novel into the hands of an editor. “That book contained a lot of emotion, good and bad… I wanted to write something personal, something folks could relate to. To do this you have to become vulnerable and open up [to your readers], as well as open yourself up to criticism and critique. This is what makes your work better,” Blessing said.

Blessing had an idea for the cover, but was willing to let the cover designer take the reins. Being so close to the story, Blessing said it was nerve-wracking to entrust someone else with his idea. “The cover I thought of initially seemed romantic and dramatic to me, but I knew it was dry. It needed more. When I saw what the designer came up with I laughed. I knew it was perfect. It had the flare to draw people in, and…it also maintained qualities I was hoping to use. I couldn’t have been more pleased,” Blessing said.

As an author who has successfully published his first book, Blessing said he would highly recommend the self-publishing experience to other authors. “Writing is not easy by any means. It takes a lot of work and reworking. The thought of going to a big publisher and having them shut you down is very discouraging. Working with Columbus Publishing Lab allows you room to grow during the writing process,” Blessing said.

Learn more about Columbus Publishing Lab packages and services here. 

Blessing said his favorite part of self-publishing so far has been seeing his writing improve along the way. He also enjoyed watching the different parts of his book come together. “Everything got smoother and smoother, and then CPL sent me an email telling me my book was on its way. Hooray!”

“In the end I had a finished product to be proud of, and one that is available for people to read. Self-publishing allows writers to get past that initial hurdle, and from there, the sky’s the limit.”

Blessing currently has a novel and a children’s book about fly fishing in the works. He plans to self-publish both with Columbus Publishing Lab.

We love working with talented, passionate authors like R.K. Blessing. If you’re interested in self-publishing, we invite you to contact us here. A real, live person is on the other end.

Giveaway: The Self-Publishing Handbook

Five free paperback copies of The Self-Publishing Handbook are up for grabs! Enter this Goodreads giveaway before 12/15 for a chance to win this compact guide to producing great books.

Find the giveaway on Goodreads here. 

The Self-Publishing Handbook is a practical guide to self-publishing the right way, and producing a high-quality, profitable piece of literature.  Brad Pauquette, the author, has worked as a publishing consultant since 2008. From New York Times bestselling authors, to self-publishers and small presses, he’s helped authors and publishers at all levels produce great books.

“The Self-Publishing Handbook equips you with the practical street smarts to self-publish your book.”

-J. Delaney, Amazon reviewer

Waiting to see if you won a paperback copy? You can get a free PDF of The Self-Publishing Handbook by signing up for our mailing list. Gain access to this valuable information right away! Get your free PDF here.


Goodreads Book Giveaway

The Self-Publishing Handbook by Brad Pauquette

The Self-Publishing Handbook

by Brad Pauquette

Giveaway ends December 15, 2014.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win