Thursday, February 16, 2012

Knowing Your Business

Knowing what business you are in has been theme of the publishing blogosphere over the last couple of days.

In an ideas convergence, sparked by Kodak going bankrupt, many commentators are looking at what happened to Kodak and drawing some parallels to the publishing industry.
Knowing what business you are in is the most important pointer to your future as Rachel Gardiner points out with this comment.
Publishers, agents and authors need to start from this very important truth: We are not in the “book” business. We are in the business of storytelling. This encompasses entertainment, information, ideas, creativity, inspiration, and intellectual exploration. It also comprises a social element—the relationship between reader and writer. We are in the business of fostering this relationship.

Mike Shatzkin, publishing futurist, puts it another way using statistics to highlight that in a conservative estimate publishers are looking at over 30% of their revenues coming from online...either through ebooks or Amazon bookstore.
But being halfway through the change in consumer buying habits in our decade of change has profound implications for all the big players in the publishing value chain.

Both these commentators are calling for a wakeup in the publishing industry and this is echoed in the comments section of each of these posts with big hitters weighing in to comment.

Kristin has advice for the big six to take now. Her post, bracing for impact, has a list of important points the traditional publishers should be doing now so they don’t go the Kodak way. (here is just one point she makes...)
New York, if you guys had an e-division, you could take on new untested writers that agents deliver with very little risk. If a new writer sells so many e-books, she earns a print deal and can earn a spot in a…bookstore. Publishers don’t waste paper printing books that don’t sell and bookstores don’t waste shelf space on…books that don’t sell.
 (Since this morning, when the post went up, she has over 109 comments endorsing her call and it is being retweeted everywhere.)

In the spirit of knowing what business you are in, a few writers have been looking at tips to improve the storefront of the author.

Authorculture looks at the author photo and the common mistakes authors make with this vital tool.

Joanna Penn has a guest post on writetodone with the 7 truths of being a writer. This has struck a chord with nearly 100 comments on the subject.

In the add-this-to-the-craft files....

Jami looks at using the Save The Cat Beat Sheet...(Save The Cat is one of the foremost books on screenwriting...)

Alison has an interview with Holly Cupala about marketing...check out Holly’s trailer...

Do you have a book manifesto? If so, does it reduce you to tears? If not, something is wrong...or why you are writing in the first place....

This morning I heard about the pinterest site on radio that is taking the social media world by storm. I know a few writers who use mood boards or inspiration boards to gather pictures of their characters houses maps etc...Check out this post about how pinterest works and how authors can use them to huge advantage...

As you contemplate the changes in the publishing business, spare a thought for those who are up against the wall holding on to the need for a printed book... a list of the downsides of an ebook.
1.You can’t hide a gun in an ebook...check out the rest of the list.

Of course if you can figure out a way to hide a gun in an ereader...a life as a crime writer could be beckoning or you could be taking care of business in a new way....


Thursday, February 9, 2012

Time Travel or Can I Have This Day Again?

Over the last couple of weeks I have spent my time being distracted by the internet, the start of the school year and the intricacies of preparing a book for print. 
Selecting the right internal font knowing how to arrange it on the page and front matter.... This is all completely different from e-publishing which strips out all this detail. 
If you want to use a particular font be prepared to swear at the computer as you try to get it formatted onto a print page. 
Of course when I want uninterrupted time I don’t get it and then when I have got that time and spent 6 hours swearing and wiping a fevered husband comes along and says something like... did you know if you saved the document as a PDF you wouldn’t need to change all that formatting stuff you are doing.... 
About that time you think about throwing the whole project at the wall, eating serious chocolate...and time travel... so you could get back the wasted day!
Then the family hit the wall of reality that school is back, a few projects that you put off from last year rear their heads and life gets complicated....
So diving into the blog round up I go for solace. (I just have to lose myself in social media for a while and forget about all that other work screaming for my attention.)

Things that caught my eye this week.

If you are learning about the secret world of book design you must visit Joel Friedlander’s book design blog. Here I learned about x height and why it is so important but also here is where my vague idea of using print copies as promo review...prizes etc etc was crystallised when I read this interview... Are print books the new vanity publishing? Joel also has a run down on front matter for books.

Mike Shatzkin has taken a look at the war heating up between the Book Sellers and Amazon and summed it all up in a beautiful piece entitled Clever Moves In The Chess Game. This is one of those must read pieces to make sense of what is happening at the moment in publishing and what it means for you the writer.

In the last couple of weeks everywhere I look there seems to be a reference to book covers and how important they are. Jody Hedlund has been asking her fans to choose a design for her latest book and the winning design is up along with an in depth look at how elements for the cover were selected.

Social Times takes a look at 3 creative ways to promote the book...take a look at the comments...also the amazing how to create a book cover video!

Joanna Penn has written a post about being in love with Scrivener...This is a novel processing programme designed for writers that has legions of fans all over. Check out the post for why she thinks writing your novel on this programme takes the hard work out of writing....

If you want to know more about the dynamo behind The Creative Penn website check out an interview with Joanna on Ollin Morales Courage 2 Create blog.

Catherine Ryan Howard has been asking opinions on grammar especially which and when we should use American English and British English and Irish English and...This is an interesting post with diagrams and comments from her survey. It is especially interesting if you have characters and setting from different countries...what trips you up in the reading? If your biggest audience is in America should you write the whole book using American English?

The Great Jane Friedman has a cautionary post on blogging your book. Should you do it...well yes...and no... it all depends....

Janice Hardy has a neat post on leaving breadcrumbs behind you.... This is the Craft Tip Of The Week. Asking the right story questions...Read It!

Writers Fun Zone has an interesting post on pitching. How do you define the log lines and memorable answers to the question... What’s the book about? Ezra also has a great post up today about creating a metadata file...That’s the file that has all your different bio’s headshots links etc etc....

Today is the first gorgeous day here for a while in the not-summer-as-it used-to-be southern hemisphere.... Bring back those long hot days where you biked to the river and threw yourself in to cool off ...Hot Dead Grass and ice creams you had to lick fast because they’d melt in under a minute. Ahh Time Travel....


Thursday, February 2, 2012

Book Trailers - It's All Marketing

Part 3 of The Craic project: Book Trailers.
The part where Maureen becomes a movie producer....

Book trailers are the visual commercial for your book.
They have their detractors...why bother to film a commercial for the book, people will just want the movie.
They can cost mega mega dollars... if you want a good one you have to hire a proper movie producer and actors etc etc.
They have to be art forms eg Maggie Stiefvaters book trailers (all created by Maggie) and how many of us can do that?

In my talks with school librarians they tell me that if a book has a book trailer it instantly makes it marketable to kids. Librarians use the book trailer on the library website... and kids being visual beings...well you know the rest.
Start by having a look at other book trailers to see what others have done and to get some ideas. Some book trailers are all static images, some have short snippets of video...some are animated...Some are the pictures from the book itself with audio sound bites.

A book trailer does not and should not condense the whole book to 2 minutes of visuals. 
It does not need to be acted out...or filmed in a big budget way.
Entice people... Entice...Think of how you get an editor interested in your project.

Look at your back cover blurb and loglines...this is a handy start to storyboarding your book trailer. Define the images you need to convey the message you want, atmosphere, main characters, compelling plot point. But don’t tell the whole story you want to entice the reader....Repeat after me... entice... entice.

For my storyboard, I turned three pages on their side drew up a grid pattern and worked through the images and the text I wanted. I started with a little bit about character motivation...and the opening conflict point...then I added images which represented different factors...the rock stars... the security and I finished on an image that was a running gag through the story. So hopefully the book trailer would still be relevant after the reader had finished the story.
Then I imagined the finished project as if I had lots of money and I was in a darkened theatre.

I realised that I liked the image of words appearing on a screen as that fit with the whole fake online identity of one of my characters. My teen then pointed out that our computer could record text as it is written in power point. So all I had to do was type reasonably fast with no mistakes. (yeah right!)

Now you have your list of must haves and your story board sheets, it’s time to check out photo stock libraries.
This is where it costs. Can you find a cheaper image that conveys the same message? Is it a must have image?

After you have selected your images. Download them to your movie making software and play around to get the whole thing looking just right. Check the length of time you want each frame to stay on screen and how you transition from frame to frame. My movie making software took my text recordings as short videos. Don’t forget to have images of your book in the trailer, as well as where you can find out how to buy it. After all that’s why you are doing this...

Music is an important part of the book trailer. It conveys atmosphere and tension and brings a whole professional edge to the project. Finding the right music is important.
Warning! Listening to royalty free music sites is a tremendous time suck! (but oh so enjoyable... I thought about writing books to soundtracks...dubfunkreggaesoul book anyone?)
I was looking for some hard driving rock (because of the rock band motif...) but with a soft beginning...
I checked out the wonderful Kevin MacLeods Incompetech site but found the music that fit the project the best at 300 Monks. They aren’t a donation site but $27 for the perfect track isn’t too much to pay I thought.

I arranged the images and text videos and dropped the music track on to it. Then I checked the highpoints in the music track were matching the right images. (This is fairly easy to do with Apple iMovie, however I had a teen sitting next to me fixing up any mistakes I made. Tip: Have a handy teen around if you aren't familiar with the software.) 
I sorted out a credits end shot, tweaked a little, uploaded it on to YouTube and voila! It was done.

If you click on the Craic book site at the top of the sidebar you can go straight to the Craic website and view the trailer ... or skip on down to the bottom of the link roundup and have a look there...

Ah the Link Round Up...the reason I spend so much time on social media...hehehe.

This week has been the jump on Franzen week for making us all feel bad about having an ebook. Monkeysee puts the gripes into perspective.

Compelling Characters...Do you have one? Or are you kidding yourself? Check out this post from the writepractice to see if you need to up the ante. 
And what kind of hero are they? There are three to choose from now.

Character do you choose the right one. Here is a great post on naming characters or yourself if you need to.

Now that you have the name and the character arc... Are you falling into a stereotype? Fantasyfiction has a great article on Alpha’s, Beta’s and Losers and wonders if the upsurge in Beta’s is because of the upsurge in woman editors...(Do women want Alpha males anymore?)

Last week I gave you a link to Bryan Thomas Schmidt’s Sell Sheet. Brian has part two up. What to do with one after you have made it...This is good solid information. (Thanks Brian)

Kristen talks about R.E.S.P.E.C.T. and the word Free as part of your marketing bag of tricks.

This is expanded on in a huge way by Author Media with 89 ways to market your book.

Yup it’s all about the marketing!

So check out this book trailer for this great book! You can even go to the website and read the first chapter...(2.99 on Amazon and Smashwords.)

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