Self-Publishing: What I did Right #1 (The Book Trailer)

Paul Ollinger is a comedian and former VP West Coast Sales at Facebook. His first book, You Should Totally Get an MBA: A Comedian’s Guide to Top U.S. Business Schools, is available on Amazon and on his website. Follow him on LinkedIn and on Twitter @Paul_Ollinger.

My first book, You Should Totally Get an MBA: A Comedian’s Guide to Top U.S. Business Schools came out on April 18th. It’s funny. It’s insightful. It’s $22.95 on!


(hey, with 200 pages of great one-liners like that, twenty-three bucks is a total bargain!)
Just like the writing of the thing, book marketing and promotion is way harder than I ever anticipated. While my time and budget are limited, there are unlimited ways to allocate them: events, e-mail, Twitter ads, Facebook ads, Snapchatting, Goodreads, Amazon, Adwords, SEO, etc. etc.

I know I’m making a bunch of mistakes, even if I don’t know what they are yet. However, there’s some marketing stuff that seems to be going well. The best one so far is this sweet ol’ book trailer:

You Should Totally Get an MBA: A Comedian's Guide to Top U.S. Business Schools from Paul Ollinger on Vimeo.

Video tells a complex story in a simple way and gets great distribution on social platforms. So I knew I wanted to make a trailer, but I assumed it would cost me a couple thousand dollars, which I did not have left in my marketing budget. I was whining about this tragic situation to a buddy who is also publishing a book and he told me I should check out @Fiverr, which he described as “Uber for creative people.”
So I go to and I find all this cool stuff. There’s a broad selection of sellers offering services from the very serious (video production, logo design, copywriting, programming) to the silly and whimsical (a heavily-bearded Vermont man who will take a picture of himself with your product on his tractor). All services start at $5 per Gig.

One seller who caught my eye was this voiceover artist who does movie trailer voices, including one like the archetypal superhero movie trailer that begins “In a world…”.

“This dude is so awesome.” I said to myself (because I was alone). I also thought (though I didn’t say it out loud), “I am going to make an over-the-top, book trailer with this guy, have Fiverr help me promote my book, then blog about the experience.” (you’re soaking in it).
So I hunt down some Fiverr marketing folk on LinkedIn. They were down for the project. And we were off to the races.

Having identified voice talent, I now needed to choose a videographer-editor type person. I wanted the trailer to be as edgy and dangerous as the world of top tier business schools itself. I was thinking “Fight Club meets Zodiac” with a Trent Reznor score.
Sure enough, I found a seller who had the chops. More Michael Mann than David Fincher, but still edgy and modern.


So then I priced this bad boy out. My Gig – like most Gigs – required additional services, including revisions, direction and expedited turnaround. I also needed to provide stock photos and footage (I use and recommend @Can Stock Photo, which has a great selection of fairly-priced content and does not require a subscription).

For under $200 total, I got a sharp and really cool trailer that has been viewed almost three thousand times on Facebook. I’m now uploading it to my author page on Amazon, YouTube and other social networks, where I anticipate it being viewed a kajillion times.

A couple of pointers:

Think before you Five. Understanding upfront what you want the final product to be will reduce iterations and get you the final product sooner and cheaper.

Budget for revisions. You’re likely going to want to tweak the initial work.

Get your assets (photo/ video) together upfront and edit your script before you send to voice talent (fyi, there are also sellers who will help you with your script).

Give direction upfront:

  • Let’s go for high energy – like Richie Finestre on a bender
  • Read it smooth – like Barry White on Sunday morning.
  • My name is pronounced (All’ in jur) and you don’t need to include the word ‘dumbass’ because it’s not in the script.

If you have your act together, you’ll get a trailer almost as good as mine. (Okay, it might be just short of David Fincher, but I hope you’ll agree that it’s pretty awesome.)

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