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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.

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 with their name, contact information, an introductory letter, and resume.

Now Hiring Digital Production Intern

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


Website Maintenance

We’ll be transferring our website to a new host on June 3 and June 4, 2015.  Please excuse our mess.

There may be temporary service interruptions during this period, and some pages may not appear correctly. Please bear with us and we’ll complete these updates as quickly as possible.

Thank you for your understanding.

Three Ways to Score a Free Book!

The Self-Publishing Handbook is a resource for self-publishers and small presses.  WhetherSelf-Publishing Handbook by Brad Pauquette you’re committed to producing your book on the cheap, or you’re interested in hiring professionals, this compact book is chock full of insider information to ensure you’re investing your time and money wisely.

You have three opportunities to nab this book for free through February 20. (The book normally sells on for $9.95.)

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.

  •  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 this Friday, February 20. 

Click here to enter the Goodreads Giveaway.

  • If you’d like to start reading right away, you can download the book for free on now. The Kindle version of The Self-Publishing Handbook is free to download through this Friday, February 20. 

Click here to download the book from

  • 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’ll never 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

Far too many authors have negative experiences with self-publishing, and we want to change that. If you’re considering self-publishing, we encourage you to do your homework. Utilize resources like The Self-Publishing Handbook, and talk to authors who have self-published successfully.

We’re happy to answer any questions you have about self-publishing. Whether that means a ten minute phone conversation, or an hour long meeting at our office, we’d love to speak with you. Contact us here.

What If I Had a Father?: Boyle & Dalton

What If I Had a Father? The Man I Never Knew is a newly released, inspiring memoir by Mike Dean. web_coverBoyle & Dalton, the publisher of the book, uses the same team of editors, designers and marketing consultants that are available to you through Columbus Publishing Lab.

Learn more about Boyle & Dalton here. 

Dean’s book went through a rigorous  developmental edit at the start of the project. A Columbus Publishing Lab editor worked closely with the author to ensure the manuscript was improving with each rewrite.

As soon as the developmental edit was complete, our team of copy editors combed through the book, correcting errors and standardizing the manuscript to a style guide. Our team of designers then produced the interior design of the book to ensure a professional, readable aesthetic across all print and e-book platforms. After the book design was complete, the book was given a complete proofread to catch any remaining errors.

Our cover designers then worked with the author to create a custom cover that includes unique photography elements.

Our team of marketing consultants formulated a plan for Dean’s book that included a personalized author website. As the book production was being completed, our web developers created a custom WordPress site for Mike Dean, giving him an easy, professional platform for promotion.

If you’re interested in getting your story into the hands of waiting readers, we invite you to contact us at We work with authors and small presses of all levels to produce professional books.

Self-Publishing Seminar: Ohio Writers’ Guild

Join us for a free self-publishing seminar this Wednesday 02/11, from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. at CPL backgroundthe Ohio Writers’ Guild, located in the Columbus Cultural Arts Center: 139 W. Main St. Columbus, Ohio 43215.

Find the Facebook event here.

Self-publishing isn’t as simple as pushing the “Publish”button. If you’re interested in producing a quality, professional book that can compete with its traditionally published counterparts, we suggest you do your homework.

Columbus Publishing Lab periodically provides free self-publishing seminars to educate authors about their publishing options.

Join us this Wednesday as we cover the five critical steps to professional self-publishing. Learn about editing, cover design, book distribution and more. If you’re interested in self-publishing, or even publication through a traditional publishing house, this course will be a great primer on how great books are produced.

This seminar is free and open to the public. Questions? Email

Ours Is the Storm: Boyle & Dalton

Ours Is the Storm is a newly released contemporary fantasy novel by D. Thoursonperf5.000x8.000.indd Palmer. Boyle & Dalton, the publisher of the book, uses the same team of editors, designers and marketing consultants that are available to you through Columbus Publishing Lab.

Learn more about Boyle & Dalton here.

Our team of designers produced the interior design of the book to ensure a professional, readable aesthetic across all print and e-book platforms. Custom cover artwork was provided by the author, which we adapted for print and e-book markets.

After the interior design of the book was complete, our professional editors proofread the book carefully to catch any remaining errors.

“There were no typos that I spotted, and I’m glad that the author invested in proper editing as the end product is very professional.”

-Reviewer at

Our team of marketing experts continues to work closely with the publishers at Boyle & Dalton to find new promotional opportunities for Ours Is the Storm, including an upcoming feature in 614 Magazine.

Ours Is the Storm is now available as a paperback and e-book on and all major online retailers.

If you’re interested in taking your book project to the next level, we invite you to contact us at We work with authors and small presses of all levels.

Let’s talk books.

What’s So Great About The Self-Publishing Handbook?

If you’ve poked around our website at all, you’ve probably seen The Self-Publishing Self-Publishing Handbook by Brad PauquetteHandbook. We’re running a Goodreads giveaway where you can enter to win a paperback copy (it ends tonight, so get in on it while you can!), and you can download a free PDF of the book any time here.

The Self-Publishing Handbook is one of thousands of books on self-publishing. A quick search returns 83, 869 results for “Self-Publishing Books.” So what makes this book different?

Let us count the ways.

1. Only the important stuff, all in one place. The Internet is chock full of information on self-publishing–some of it good, a lot of it very, very bad. The Self-Publishing Handbook is a bullshit survival guide. With so much fluff floating around, facts can get misconstrued and information buried under opinion. The Self-Publishing Handbook sticks to concrete, necessary information. If you’re looking for a “follow your dreams” sort of book, this isn’t it. If you’re looking for a practical guide to self-publishing, read this book.

2. It’s a quick, easy read. It takes skill to effectively disseminate tricky information into laymen’s terms (while not alienating folks with a bit of experience), and that’s exactly what Brad Pauquette has done here. Publishing jargon is quickly explained, and pricing formulas are broken down into fathomable equations. If you turn off the TV, you can finish this book in an evening (it clocks in at around 100 pages). Although it’s compact, I guarantee you’ll be thumbing back through it for reference. It’s really that helpful.

3. Straight to the point. Self-publishing isn’t a hobby, it’s a business. If you’re looking to publish a book and sell it to people other than your mom, spouse, and friends who owe you a favor, The Self-Publishing Handbook can help you. Prepare to take a hard look at your manuscript.

4. Other people like it. Everyone knows if enough people like something, it must be good for you. Here’s what folks who have bought the book on Amazon are saying about The Self-Publishing Handbook:

“After reading it, I now have a much deeper understanding of how to apply traditional publishing principles in my own self-publishing. Most importantly, it makes the whole process seem very doable and realistic.”

“Brad Pauquette has made my job a lot easier. As a newspaper editor and author of a couple of books myself, I have no shortage of people asking me how to get their book published. Now I can tell them: ‘Buy yourself a copy of Brad Pauquette’s book, The Self Publishing Handbook and follow his advice because he will tell you everything you need to know.'”

5. It’s FREE. Enter to win one of five paperback copies of the book on Goodreads here, or download the PDF for free at any time here.

FULL DISCLOSURE: We are a self-publishing company. We hope that you’ll read this book and decide to work with us, but if you decide we’re not for you, I hope you’ll still read this book and save yourself some time, money and frustration.

Questions about self-publishing? Email us at


Goodreads Book Giveaway

The Self-Publishing Handbook by Brad Pauquette

The Self-Publishing Handbook

by Brad Pauquette

Giveaway ends January 28, 2015.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win