Monthly Archives: December 2011

Content and Production Values Key to Video Effectiveness

As part of my marketing efforts for A Warrior’s Soul, I started a series of video commentaries, called video logs, on Youtube (Channel: SamRStaley). I just ptosted my fifth video log and I thought it might be useful to report on a few “lessons” from my first seven months of experience using videos to promote my fiction.

First, a little context. I am starting with hardly any platform for my fiction writing. So, these Youtube efforts are the first building blocks for a video marketing effort. Second, Youtube is emerging as one of my principle marketing mechanisms for reaching a broad audience beyond “friends and family” (most notably facebook). Thus, the lessons learned here are crucial for building and fleshing out my long-term marketing plan (or Phase II in my Guerilla Marketing program).

I essentially have three video products. Interviews and Q&A with the author to provide background on my books; trailers for the books; and Video Logs (VLs). The VLs are intended to be short commentaries on current issues related to the content of my novels. So far, they’ve mainly covered the topics of bullies, bullying, and martial arts. My first one  (VL-1) focused on bullies, teasing, and gangs and released on 28 May 2011. It runs 5:35 and has recived 85 views to date. Interestingly, this video is two minutes longer than my introductory interview for the book released on 21 May, which now has 182 views.

At first blush, the higher number of views might seem to reflect its shorter length. I’ve been tracking all the videos weekly, however, and I’m finding that content and production values appear to drive viewership more than run time. Also, linking from other sites by independent followers is critical to driving viewership numbers. The high number of views for the interview, for example, is a direct result of the profile given to it when a popular follower of the book posted a link on facebook just two weeks before the release of A Warrior’s Soul.

Here’s the current status of the videos, including run-time, length of time up on Youtube, and number of views:



  • Introductory Interview                        3:26    7 months    183 views

  • VL-1, Bullies, teasing & gangs            5:35    6 months    86 views

  • VL-2, On Martial arts strategy           3:49    6 months     40 views

  • VL-3, Female characters in fiction      4:50    5 months    22 views

  • VL-4, Bullying & martial arts              4:05     5 months    36 views

  • Trailer 1                                             1:04    3 months    52 views

  • Trailer 2                                             1:02    1 month    89 views

  • VL-5, Bruce Lee & peaceful warrior  1:27    1 day    20 views  
Notably, the second trailer is the same length as the first one, but it’s coming close to doubling viewership even though it has been out for just one month. Viewer feedback suggests that the second trailer has higher production values than the first. Similarly, the production values behind the introductory video are higher than for the video logs (although by intent). Content may also be playing a role. The interview, VL-1, and the trailers both emphasize content based on the broader content of bullying.

The progress of the fifth VL, however, may be most telling. Even though it’s been up on Youtube for less than 24 hours, views have come close to eclipsing VL-3 (the least popular to date). It will proabably also eclipse VL-4 and VL-2 quickly based on its current trajectory.

What gives? VL-5 has three distinguishing features:



  1. a shorter experience;

  2. higher production values, including credits and a signature introductory music;

  3. broadly targeted content, using the famous martial artist Bruce Lee as a hook;
Having more content is probably better than a little content, but the success of different videos to date suggests that content and production values matter. All the videos are benefiting from broader expsosure, but the number of views is ticking up at a faster rate for the ones with higher production values.

I’ll keep tracking the video progress and report back on the success and what it means for book marketing (and hopefully sales).

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Agenting Book Prices to Marketing Success

I thought it might be interesting to report on the most popular posts in each of the last several months based on the number of hits:

November: “What Authors Need to Do: Market”

October:  “The Long, Hard Road to Overnight Success

September: “Your Book Costs How *#&! Much? Part 1

August: “Secret Literary (Agent) Math

We’ll have a year-end list in January.

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Kindling Pirates

Last week, I noticed an unexpected deposit in my bank account from “Amazon digital services.” I had been getting these periodically, but they were relatively small and I figured they were probably revenues from click-through advertising on my web site for The Pirate of Panther Bay. I had a little extra time on my hands, so I decided to investigate.

Lo and behold (and a big “duh” moment later), I discovered they were royalties from the kindle version of The Pirate of Panther Bay.

I know it sounds odd, but with the release of A Warrior’s Soul last July and my focus on marketing the new book, I lost touch with the sales of my first published novel. I was aware that the print version of The Pirate of Panther Bay had picked up with the launch of A Warrior’s Soul (sales doubled in 2011), but I had neglected to track the kindle version. In part, this was because I know that most teens still don’t have amazon accounts (although this is likely changing with the spread of the Ipad).

It turns out the kindle version has been outselling the print version on amazon.com for the last several years. I didn’t notice it in part because the price is low enough that the periodic royalties didn’t seem to amount to much on their own. (But, they add up over time!)

This revelation also resolved another puzzle: I couldn’t figure out why the kindle version’s sales ranking always seemed significantly higher than the print version, spiking well into the tenth percentile (top 10 percent) for kindle books.

Unfortunately, I don’t have good data on who is buying the kindle version. But, it’s nice to know a digital market exists for a novel the arrived on shelfs and on-line five years ago (even though the stories and characters are timeless).

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