producing documentary books

Producing Documentary Books: Launching

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Some photos write their own captions. This warning sign was posted on the outskirts of Bisbee, Arizona. Maybe this could be a good opening shot for a viral video? (Jain Lemos, Bisbee, AZ; 2014.)
Some photos write their own captions. This warning sign was posted on the outskirts of Bisbee, Arizona. Maybe this could be a good opening shot for a viral video? (Jain Lemos, Bisbee, AZ; 2014.)

I’m now up to Part 30 of my blog series, The Ultimate Guide to Producing Documentary Books, and the time for launching your project has arrived. As I explained in Figuring Timing, your launch should be pegged to some specific event or milestone so the launch date has the biggest bang.

You’ll want to use your budget for the maximum exposure but don’t stretch it too thin. Keep things reasonably sane by concentrating on three directions for the day of the launch, for example, a party, a viral video and a round of television news interviews.

The kickoff event has to be successful so it’s going to take serious planning and the help of experts. Think about the promotional gatherings and events you’ve attended recently. If you didn’t commit to going right away, how many more times were you reminded before you were convinced to go? The main reasons people go to functions are to have fun, meet people and learn. Why did you decide to attend? Did the invitation give you a sense of what the whole scene was going to be like and how you might look milling around?

Incidentally, buying a product is not particularly high on the list of reasons people attend events. They know the “pinch” will come at some point and they’ll have their card ready to whip out if they connect with the worthiness of buying your book. For many, the value received boils down to simply having a good time and plenty of fab food! Pace the evening so it is carefully scripted without anyone noticing. Find ways to compel guests to take photos and share them in real time (with a great hashtag) by creating a setting that is absolutely photogenic and providing entertainment that makes for great photos. Party favors are expected so never let guests go home empty handed. Include an easy way to buy the book once they get home.

Having a promotional video go viral is a lofty aim but the good news is that your book already has great content within a storytelling framework. It has to also be shareable and that phenomenon is where the unknown factor kicks in. Studies of viral videos are mixed but the consensus is that they must surprise, inspire, educate or shock in order to be shared. Here is where the fans of your book’s subject matter are going to clue you in. They have already carved out territory where you are welcome. Deep research into their demographics and preferences are going to help guide the distinctions that need to be present for the maximum reaction.

As for TV interviews, arrange for the authors to appear on as many local and national morning and daytime programs as possible and before the launch party while the video is gaining steam on high traffic blogs and news sites. Continue with inviting press to the party so more interviews can take place at the event. Coordinating with the personal publicity teams of celebrities attached to the project is also vital. They might be more inclined to talk about their new movie, restaurant opening or concert tour instead of your tie-in book unless you set up the situation where they are asked specifically about the new book.

Managing Fulfillment is up next week as I near the end of this 33 part series. Want some secrets for throwing an A-List party?

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