Thursday, May 17, 2007

Videos and Awards?

When I signed up to blog on this day a few weeks ago, I had news. Funny thing, you'd think, having spent several years writing for Arizona's largest daily newspaper, I would've remembered that news is only really news, when it's, well, new.

However, since this is Thankful Thursday, I'm still thankful that my edgy video for No Safe Place, from the brilliant Circle Of Seven, won Cameo Awards for Best Suspense trailer, Excellence in Writing (script, Sheila English; visual concepts Mike Miller), the Viewer's Choice award, as well as a Cameo for Promotional Excellence, the top award for all trailers.

There's been a lot of talk about whether or not videos actually sell books. I've had five videos created so far and have no idea. I just know they're a lot of fun, and for me, that's worth doing them. (I'm already working with COS on utilizing actors and incorporating scenes from the books for my upcoming trilogy.) Also, my website statistics show that visitors enjoy watching them, and a recent contest where viewers voted on which of two very different No Safe Place videos they preferred proved hugely popular.

Meanwhile, Simon and Schuster, having decided videos are good way to sell books, will begin creating them for some of their authors. Proving that timing is, indeed, everything, they announced this just a few months after I moved from Pocket to NAL. LOL

Although I've never been much for entering contests, I've judged the RITAs for most of my 26 years in RWA, going back to when the contest was called the Golden Medallion. This year I judged both the preliminary and final rounds and stayed up until two this morning rereading an entry before ranking the books, which, for me, is always the most difficult part of judging. The best part of judging is that I never fail to discover a wonderful writer I've somehow missed. This year was no exception and I'm proud -- and thankful -- to have been able to spend so many years working in a genre boasting so much stellar talent.

Recently some of us have been having a conversation about whether winning the RITA actually makes a difference in a writer's career. Which brings me back to those video awards.
Borrowing a bit from Wondering Wednesday, I'm wondering if viewing a video has actually ever made you want to buy a book? Does seeing a sticker on a cover announcing that the writer has won an award -- a RITA, a Newberry, an Edgar, whatever -- make you more likely to pick a book up? And better yet, does an award make you more willing to risk your money on a new-to-you author?


Nancy Morse said...

Well, JoAnn, in all honesty, I have to answer no, no and no. Winning a contest doesn't mean a book is better than any other book. My reading tastes are all over the place. Sometimes it's based on author name (better safe than sorry). Sometimes it's on a recommendation (the pre-screening method). Sometimes the book is on sale (cost-conscious thing that I am). Sometimes it's what everyone else is reading (peer pressure). But I can't ever recall buying/reading a book just based on a video or a contest win.

JoAnn Ross said...

Nancy, My reading experience is pretty much like yours (the peer pressure thing is what finally made me -- sigh -- buy the Da Vinci Code after it'd been out a year), but I do have to admit that if I see an Edgar, I'll usually bite.

That label was how I found Julie Smith -- I bought the book, Axeman's Jazz, with the sticker, then went back to the store and picked up her entire backlist -- and it's also how I discovered Sharyn McCrumb.

And I've bought more than a few books for my kids and grandbabies because of that shiny Newberry Seal. So apparently contests do occasionally get my attention. If nothing else, perhaps the seal or sticker is eye-catching enough to make me notice a book in the first place, then the validation on a prestigious award adds one more reason to consider buying it.

Oh, I did, otoh, buy Empire Falls the week it came out in hardcover, long before it won its Pulitzer. But that was because B&N sent me an email about it and the reviews and excerpt looked worth trying.

Katherine Allred said...

Um, yes, sorta, and yes. I actually bought No Safe Place after I saw your trailer, and loved it. I'll be searching out your backlist now, no doubt about it.

As for the awards, it depends. If I'm looking for something good and have nothing specific in mind, an award winner will catch my eye. Its sort of a stamp that tells me I'm not wasting my money on a book that sucks. So yes, it makes me more willing to risk reading a new author.

Other than that, all of Nancy's reasoning applies.

helenb. said...

Hey JoAnn - While I find videos engaging, I'm usually looking at them because some author I'm already buying has requested a "go see". Now, if they ever put them on as trailers at the theater, the vids might have some influence in my purchasing. I can't say. They're not doing that here in Canada, as far as I know. Stickers on front of books don't really influence me. The Newberry Seal did when I was buying books for my daughter. I attribute that to anxious parent syndrome. Grin. Usually, it's word-of-mouth, backcover blurbs, and sometimes print ads catch my attention.

JoAnn Ross said...

Katherine -- Wow. You're the first person I've actually heard say a video made a difference! Thanks for buying No Safe Place, and btw, Sweet Gum Tree is already packed waiting to go to D.C. with me for Memorial Day reading. It's a treat I've been holding out in order to get the work stuff done. I also agree about the seal suggesting the book won't suck; sort of like a Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval. *g*

Helen, LOL about the anxious parent syndrome. I think another advantage of the newberry is that with children's books so often being only available in hardback, that's a lot of money to shell out for a book your kid might not like. Otoh, if they DO like it, you're guaranteed to be reading it over and over and over again!

Nancy Herkness said...

JoAnn, I loved both your videos--very different information sets. I know the latest wisdom is that they should have people in them but I liked the COS one just as much as the RD one.

I have to admit that I have never bought a book based on the video. As HelenB said, I usually view them because I already know something about the author. However, I am most emphatically not the demographic those videos are aimed at, being too old, too unhip and too busy to surf YouTube.

Awards, OTOH, do make me pick up a book out of a pile. Lots of fabulous books do not earn awards but if I'm randomly browsing, a contest win makes a book stand out. At least I know that more than one person thought it was a worthwhile read. There are SO many books out now, it's hard to pick and choose. Anything that helps is most welcome.

As an author, I love the validation of an award. Publishing is such a tough business, it's nice to occasionally get a pat on the head from one's peers.

Laura Drewry said...

(I'm watching this tiny little brown bird pick at something on the trampoline out in the yard. LOL)

I love watching the book videos/trailers, and yes, occasionally I will be prompted to buy the book after watching one. As for awards and hype, not so much. The Harry Potter books, for instance. . . .I refused to believe the hype about until the 4th book came out and I finally broke down and bought it. Hooked immediately! I love each one of them, and will fight off any and all youngsters trying to get aheaad of me in line come July. :)

I don't normally buy books because of any certain reason. Sometimes it's because I "know" the author through the loops; sometimes it's because the book was recommended to me. And sometimes I just plain like either the title or the back cover copy. {bg} But for those of you making book trailers/videos. . .keep at it, because they're so much fun to watch! :)