Book Trailers: An Interview with Managing Director Theodore P. Savas

by Brett Schulte on April 18, 2011 · 3 comments

Q: Savas Beatie has been developing many new avenues for promoting its business. How did the idea of incorporating book trailers come about?

A: Some time ago I got the idea watching a movie trailer one day, and Sarah Keeney and I began exploring the concept, and discovered that some of the bigger companies were already doing something similar for books. So I took the concept of a movie trailer and applied it to Savas Beatie books. Book trailers are another form of advertising and good advertising is essential to a successful business.

Q: Not many book publishers use this form of advertising for their books. Why do you think that’s the case?

A: I think there are a couple primary reasons for this. First, I suppose, is that it costs money to produce a trailer. I’ve found you can get a very good product from this form of advertisement for a reasonable cost, but you have to find the right vendor/partner and you have to pitch in and help. It takes some time, so you have to allocate that and time is a precious commodity. Second, using technology in this manner is a new and fresh way to market books, and embracing it is smart and a way to remain on the cutting edge of the business. Not all publishers look at it that way. I know some who are afraid or unsure of how to use technology, so they keep doing what they have done because change is hard, and people don’t like to change the way they do things.

Q: But you’re doing it.

A: Sure. The way we do business is changing rapidly because of advances in technology. You better be competitive on every level or you will be out of business. It is crucial to stay as up-to-date as possible.

Q: Do you use trailers for all your books?

A: No, but we are leaning in that direction. They work especially well for our core audience, which is the American Civil War. We have done two for our Savas Beatie Military Atlas series, [The Maps of Chickamauga http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xR_2JCyfODI and The Maps of Gettysburg http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l2_ytzDWaxw], and the response has been tremendous. Standard battle books also work well, such as Valley Thunder [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5O4xRSWBGNY] and New Dawn [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CnC1ONEm3OU ].

Q: And your recent book on Buddy Holly!

A: That’s right. Hey Buddy, by Gary Moore really lent itself to this medium because of the music and visuals involved. I highly recommend that people check out that one. [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ppf6URswTPE]

Q: Do you still use display ads?

A: We do, but we do so very sparingly because display advertising, for us at least, is almost never cost effective. Ads in a magazine are seen once, and only by a fraction of the people who read the magazine. You have to pour in substantial dollars to get the eyeballs needed and then convert those to sales. With low price items like books, it does not work well for us except in very limited ways.

Q: What is the purpose of a book trailer?

A: The purpose is to inform people about Savas Beatie books. The idea isn’t necessarily to make a sale right away, but rather to educate a person on what the book is or isn’t about and so better inform their buying decision. Book trailers provide a brief but informative look into what each book includes (maps, photos, subject matter, length, and so forth). If it suits a person’s interests it will grab their attention, enlighten them about the book, and hopefully they will remember it and our company. If someone likes one of the book trailers, it is more likely he or she will pass the information on to other people.

Q: Where do you get the information that goes into the book trailers?

A: The synopsis for the book is already written as catalog or dust jacket copy, and we usually use that for the voiceover. We include maps, photos, video footage if available, and so craft the final product.

Q: What is the hardest part about making a book trailer?

A: The hardest part is making all the elements of the trailer fit together. A book trailer has to be relatively short to keep the interest of the viewer, so it has to be good all the way through. It has to be visually appealing while conveying all the information I want the viewer to know. It’s a matter of putting the pieces together—the color, texture, sound, images—in a way that works. The speed of change within the trailer has to be correct; the voiceover has to be timed for the right moment. Each second of the trailer has to correspond to the next moment so the images and sounds flow together in a cohesive manner.

Q: Who makes the book trailers for Savas Beatie?

A: We use graphics designer David Van Dusen. David and I had worked together on several projects, and it was natural to try him for our trailers. We work together well and enjoy bouncing ideas around to come up with the most visually appealing and informative book trailer possible with the media at hand.

Q: Savas Beatie book trailers start and end the same way. Why?

A: The book trailers begin and end with the Savas Beatie logo and a particular sound. This is done to brand the company and the ad. If our customers have a good opinion of the company, for example, they will look forward to seeing what the book trailer has to offer. Think of a movie trailer by Sony, for example. They do the same thing.

Q: Just to go back for a second, digital book trailers versus print advertisement. Can you discuss the advantages in the former over the latter?

A: I think book trailers are more cost effective, and with sound and movement more likely to be remembered and recommended than a static ad. If a printed advertisement is even seen and read, it might capture a person’s attention for the moment but the information is gone when the newspaper or magazine is tossed. We put our trailers on Youtube, our website, other websites, etc. and they are available indefinitely as a perpetual source of information. That is dynamic and powerful.

Q: Final questions: Which trailer was the most difficult to make and which is your favorite?

A: The first one was the most difficult and it remains my favorite: Once a Marine. David and I had never worked together, and it took a lot of back and forth—and he was very patient with me. Once it was done, we both thought, “Wow, this is really good.” I like all our trailers, but Once a Marine the most because I know Gunny Sgt. Nick Popaditch so well, have spent a lot of time with him, and I respect his sacrifices for our country and how he has handled his terrible wounds. It is very inspirational.

Q: How can people view the trailers?

A: They are all on the Youtube channel militarybooks (http://www.youtube.com/user/militarybooks) and you can also scroll through the selection on the Savas Beatie website homepage: www.savasbeatie.com


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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

J DAVID PETRUZZI April 19, 2011 at 1:27 pm

Great interview with my favorite publisher 🙂
The trailers are very effective and innovative – and they last forever, in contrast to a print ad. They’re dynamic, motivate folks to check out the books and purchase, and SB’s trailers are very professional.
JD

Reply

Sarah Keeney April 20, 2011 at 3:34 pm

Thanks, Brett and J.D.

Here’s a link to graphic designer/book trailer designer David Van Dusen’s website with more info and work samples: http://www.dvgraphix.com/

Sarah

Reply

SavasBeatie April 25, 2011 at 2:23 pm

Thank you for posting this wonderful interview on your website.

Savas Beatie LLC
Publisher of Historical Titles of Distinction
http://www.savasbeatie.com

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