Pity the Poor Librarian

DIY is great for everyone, right?  We buy our email lists from list providers, prepare our cover letters, and send out flurries of instant messages, fingers-crossed that we will make high-revenue sales for a ridiculously low out-put of effort and funds.

Who looses in this calculus?  If you guess no one, you’re wrong. As DIY has caught on, the noise that pervades other forms of self-promotion has seeped into academic institutions, making it increasingly overwhelming to the poor librarians who receive our missives, and thus harder for our wonderful films to rise above the fray.

What can you do?

As has always been the case, successful diy requires strong marketing materials (your diy platform of a correctly “positioned” website and cover letter targeted at the right audience), but now more than ever, it also requires simply spreading word-of-mouth about your film to the academic world.  In other words, some good old-fashioned pr.

If you are lucky enough to have made a film about a famous person or event not previously covered, the word-of-mouth is already out there.  As long as it’s a halfway decent film, the overwhelmed librarians will click on your site.  Many producer/directors of excellent films about very important and teachable subjects, however, do not have that advantage.

Here are some excellent ways to spread word about your film, on a limited budget, and without too much effort:

1. Academic conferences: from the academic endorsements you’re already received for your website, re-contact the professors and have them recommend good conferences for your film, perhaps even agree to submit your film as a presentation.  Think of it–a captive audience of targeted buyers with a guaranteed interest in your subject matter.  When folks rush up to buy copies afterward, promise you’ll give them a free copy in exchange for getting their school to buy the institutional copy at the higher price. Nothing up front, though.  Keep their incentive high.

2. Reviews in academic journals: like conferences, journals are a great way to spread the word without too much effort.  Your endorsers will tell you the journals to submit to and you can also research them on-line.

3. An out-of-the-box idea: get a few of your endorsers to agree to become Academic Sponsors–people committed to spreading word about your film in their niche of the academic world, in whatever ways they can think of.

Also, make sure to list them as “Academic Sponsors” on your site.

If you pursue the above avenues and find little to no interest, that’s a good sign that academic distribution for your movie may not be in the stars.

Better to know now than after spending hundreds on email lists.

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