Get paid to promote your book or video? Here’s how…

Get-Paid-To-PromoteAs a fairly new author, I’ve been exploring a myriad of ways to promote my book Shoot To Sell: Make Money Producing Special Interest Videos. As I’m doing this, I have found some interesting promotional outlets and many of them would work well for promoting videos too! Here is an article by Sandra Beckwith of on an opportunity I hadn’t heard of before and one that I know you’ll find helpful. Read on…

Get Paid to Promote your Book (or Video)

Most authors spend money to promote their books, but some get paid to do it. They’re media spokespersons, hired by companies and organizations to add credibility to a consumer product or service being promoted through a publicity campaign. They are topic experts who have the credentials to back their expertise. And they are paid $2,000 to $3,000 per day to help a company meet its communications objectives by sharing key message points through media interviews, while receiving impressive free media exposure for their books.

The role of a media spokesperson: A media spokesperson has a contract with an organization to fulfill specific obligations, which can range from participating in a satellite media tour to appearing on national or local television talk shows, or doing print or electronic interviews by phone. All of this happens within a designated time frame and for a predetermined fee.

For example, the Soap & Detergent Association (SDA) and its public relations agency recently developed a survey that would generate newsworthy results. The topic was housework: Who’s doing it in American homes, men or women? Not surprisingly, the survey revealed that even women who work outside the home are still doing far more than half the housework, and it’s causing tension among couples.

The SDA could have quoted a staff member in a press release announcing the findings to the media, but this individual would not be qualified to explain the survey results. So the SDA looked elsewhere for a spokesperson to do newsworthy interviews…and found me. As the author of Why Can’t a Man Be More Like a Woman?, a humorous look at what makes men different from women, I write and speak about the lighter side of gender differences. I have the credentials to explain the survey results, offer tips on how women can get more help around the house and suggest to men simple, easy steps they can take to help more without first getting a domestic engineering degree.

Through it’s public relations firm, the SDA contracted with me for three months for a range of media-related services, including traveling to New York City and other locations for in-person

In addition, I received valuable on-camera practice from a professional media trainer who helped me link my anecdotes and experiences to the client’s key message points. My goal, after all, was not to just talk about the survey findings. It was to share specific SDA messages with the public.

How to find spokesperson assignments: Usually, they find you when a publicist searches bookstores for relevant titles or the Internet for your topic. Some companies rely on organizations such as Spokespersons Plus, which specializes in finding qualified experts. Spokespersons Plus works much like an executive recruiter. The client calls the firm and describes the type of individual it needs; owner Deborah Durham searches her database to identify pre-qualified potential matches. If the right person isn’t in her system, she looks elsewhere for the perfect match.

Typically, the spokesperson candidate supplies the client company with materials that verify topic knowledge (your book) and media experience. A videotape with television interviews – even from local talk or news programs – helps the client assess not only your level of interview experience, but your personality, as well. You can be taught how to improve your interview skills, but your inherent demeanor – relaxed, uptight or professorial – can’t (and shouldn’t) be changed for an assignment.

You can also contact companies marketing consumer products or services with a logical connection to your topic and offer your services as a spokesperson. But have a publicity campaign idea in mind before making the call so it’s clear why they might benefit from working with you. Contact Spokespersons Plus, too, but only if you can outline several possible consumer product connections with your topic in a brief note to

How a spokesperson is paid: Spokesperson fees vary and are calculated in different ways. Some contracts are based on a day rate while others have fee amounts assigned to specific tasks. Travel days usually earn half the individual’s day rate; travel expenses are reimbursed. Media spokesperson work requires many skills – including an ability to hold your own with hyperactive morning drive time radio personalities – so it’s not for everyone. But if you believe you’re destined to banter with Matt on “The Today Show” and haven’t snagged that interview on your own, consider seeking a spokesperson assignment and letting the pros secure it for you. Then all you’ll have to worry about is what to wear!

Sandra Beckwith offers a free book publicity and promotion e-zine at and teaches the “Book Publicity 101: How to Build Book Buzz” e-course.

You Should Use Photos in Your Videos – Here’s Why

Photos can’t be overlooked in producing your videos! Here’s why:

Sometimes that is all you have to work with.

Your video can be made up entirely of images – without you ever getting your video camera out and shooting a frame!

Ken Burns’ incredibly powerful film series, “The Civil War” is one that immediately comes to my mind. It was done so well and draws you in so completely that it doesn’t seem like it was composed almost entirely of still photographs. Can you think of others?

Sometimes you can’t get video footage of what you need.

Since it was impossible for Ken Burn’s to get footage from an era before the technology was invented, he had to make a choice. While he could have shot his series with re-enactors or through interviews with historians or a combination, he chose something entirely different that I feel actually worked so much better! Also shooting with re-enactors and lining up interviews, expense was probably a consideration.

There are many times you may need a video from a location that is too expensive to get to, or impossible to shoot, like Mars for example, where you can use a photo instead.

The key to using still images compellingly is to give them some motion otherwise it’s about exciting as watching your great uncle Charley’s slide show of his mushroom harvesting trip to the Catskills last summer.

A panning technique was used in the Civil War series. Along with haunting music, sound effects, i.e, the sounds of battle and wonderful dialog, that effect worked really well.

With Photoshop (or other similar programs), you can save images in different layers and animate each of those layers in your editing software. I see this a lot on the History channel. They’ll take an old painting, select out a person, animate it so that it gets larger in the screen while a separate person in the painting gets smaller.

Sometimes these effects can be done with photographs and it totally looks like a video. I did this once with a train track photo. The photo was taken looking over the tracks as they converged in the far distance. I converted it to black and white, then over the course of 10 seconds or so, I slowly enlarged the image. When I was done, it looked just like someone had shot film from the front of a train in the 1940’s.

When we shot our documentary, Patrick Smith’s Florida: A Sense of Place, on my dad, we relied on extensive use of historical photographs throughout the production, ala Ken Burn’s style. This film went on to win a Telly and a couple of film awards. I knew that just showing him on camera, a “talking head” if you will, would not be as powerful without the photos.

Prepare your photos before you import into your editing software.

Your photos don’t have to be more than 72 DPI but they should be a fairly large dimension  if you are going to pan around inside them. I usually have one dimension at is 2,000 pixels and that gives me plenty of room to pan and scan. Save as a PSD with all the layers if you plan on animating each layer separately.

Any photo you use should be in RGB color space, preferably a JPG or PNG. PNG’s carry alpha channels so if you want to maintain transparent areas in your photos, save them as a PNG.

If you’re using Final Cut Pro or Premiere to edit, images saved in CMYK and as TIFFs DO NOT WORK. Yes, you may be able to import TIFFS, but it will mess a lot of things up. Other editing systems may work the same way so to be on the safe side, always convert your images to JPGs or PNG. Nine times out of ten, when I’ve imported a photo and my editing system went crazy, it was because the photo was in CMYK mode.

You can turn your photos to video without having editing software.

There are some really cool programs available that allow you to turn your photos to video. One we use is Animoto. You can use it for free but the length of your video is limited to 30 seconds. For only $30/year you can upgrade and make longer ones. You can also incorporate videos with your photos in Animoto. Another option is Photodex’ ProShow product.

Use your video to make still frames.

What if you want to use photos but don’t have them? Use your video footage. You can pull still frames from your videos and use them as still photos. Sometimes it’s a good way to fix a shooting error (yes, those things happen even to the most professional.) but other reasons  include using it for a graphic, title, emphasis, or doing special effects.

In what ways do you like to turn photos to video? Please share below.

How To Make Your Book Cover Or DVD Stand Out

As I mentioned in my post on using photographs in your press releases, photographs are still very important today. Even with all the growth of online video and music, physical DVDs and CDs are still around and so is the need for the packaging art that comes with them.

One of our professionally designed DVD covers and discs

Videos are not the only way people are digesting information. There’s still the old-fashioned written word. You’re reading this aren’t you?

Photos can say so much, and you can’t put videos in books or on your CD or DVD covers.

If you’ve been reading this blog regularly, you’ll notice that if we don’t have a video to share, we always include an image or two in our blog posts. Not only do they act as illustrations, statistics show that people will read and share your posts more when there are images. It may be the attraction to get you to read further.

The same is true with DVD, CD and book covers.

They say you can’t judge a book by its cover, but that is exactly what we do. The title and copy on the DVD or book are very important but having a good strong cover image will grab a person’s attention. That, along with the title, are what draws me to pick up a video or book I’ve never seen before. Do you find that true for you?


Here’s an example of one of our eBooks

In the digital world, you want to do the same with your digital video downloads and eBooks. We’ve done testing on the eReader books we publish and found that adding a nice cover photo increased our sales dramatically. You also want to always include an enticing description as well.

Adding images to the reports you sell or giveaway takes them to a more professional level and it isn’t hard or expensive to do. Many stock photography sites like Dreamstime have a large collection of free images you may use. If one of those doesn’t appeal to you, spending a few more dollars will get you what you are looking for.

We use Photoshop to add titles and copy to make our eBook and DVD covers. If you don’t have access to Photoshop, another good option to use is which is an open source free downloadable software.

If you’re going to self-publish a printed book or DVD, I strongly recommend hiring professionals to design your cover. That is one area where investing in your image will truly set you apart from the rest.