Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Book Trailers: Making the Suckers Part 2

Making a trailer is pretty easy in theory. First you pick your video editing software of choice (as stated above, mine is Windows Media Player, free and easy to use). Then you storyboard and script your trailer on a piece of paper (you can use any technique, whether it be elaborate sketches or stick figures). Now, unless you can draw and have the patience for it, the tricky part lies in finding material to put with your text script. Your storyboard should be a general concept of what you want, try keeping it to vague pictures, unless you have some pro bono actors and a decent video camera on hand so you can film scenes yourself.

Then the searching starts. Expect this to be the longest, most boring part of the process. If you're just making it for you, Google is a great resource for everything under the sun. If you actually want to air it on Youtube, however, you have to watch the license of the pictures. If it's royalty free, creative commons, noncommercial, stock photos, then you can use it without guilt. Shutterstock.com is good if you're willing to pay a little. If, like me, you'd rather not, resources like Wikimedia Commons and Photobucket are great. If you want some quality art/photography by some really good amateur and professional artists, Deviantart is a great resource. A lot of people will let you use their pictures for free, just as long as you ask permission ahead of time or credit them somehow.

Now, good trailers have some kind of audio, whether it be voice-overs, sound effects, music, or all of the above. The same licencing rule that goes for pictures applies to music/sounds. And like the pictures, there are some really good resources out there who simply ask you cite them if you use their stuff. My favorite cite for royalty-free music is Kevin Macleod's Incompetech.com. He has some great pieces on there for just about every occasion, and it's free if you provide credits according to his site's rules. Another music resource I found recently is Danosongs.com. He has a similar scheme to Kevin Macleod, with the same requirement that you credit the song if you use it.

Once you have your music, pictures/videos (and potentially permissions) you can import your photos, arrange them with your text, slap on some good audio, play with it a bit and voila! You have yourself a book trailer. Make sure to keep it between 30 seconds and 1.5 minutes. If it drags on too long, the audience will get bored, and if it goes too short they'll be confused. Optimally, if you can get just enough info in less than 30 seconds to keep your audience interested, you're golden!

All these insights are from my own experience, so take them with a grain of salt. I don't know the ins and outs of copyright laws, but so far these techniques have worked with no repercussions, and the worst that can happen is your video is taken down by Youtube unless you claim to have drawn and made all the resources yourself when you really didn't. The end goal is to have fun, do some good marketing, and try not to step on anyone's toes.

Now it's your turn! Have you ever tried making a book trailer for yours or someone else's work? How did your experience go? Any tips you or corrections you can add to what I've already said?

Monday, April 11, 2011

Book Trailers and Summaries Part 1

So, this past weekend I discovered a really good writing exercise...using Windows Media Player.

The title of the post pretty much gives it away, but I'll say it anyways: Book Trailers. I'm sure we've all seen those big name, movie-like book trailers made by the major publishing houses using fancy software and video editing. It makes the book come alive on a whole new level and intrigues readers with a more visual medium. So it's pretty good for marketing.

Not only that, though, but if you've ever tried making one, you know it's frustrating. No only is it difficult compiling what exactly will go into the trailer, but organizing it to be visually appealing AND concise? Impossible! It doesn't stop people from trying, though.

Something that's also a pain in the butt is condensing entire 70,000+ word novels into 2-3 pages (double spaced at that!), or even worse, a paragraph! Making a synopsis and a query pitch/summary are both crucial if someone wants to get their work published, though. After all, agents and editors are busy people, they need to know if the overall content of the book is worth the writing, and the shorter the better. But cramming all that information into such a small space makes my brain hurt just thinking about it. First, you have to organize it into what's important and what's not, then the second guessing when every little detail goes into one subplot or another that all tie into the main story arc somehow. Everything is supposed to be important, right?

Enter the book trailer! Try making one of these babies and cram all that info into less than a minute, 30 seconds even!

My point, making a trailer makes you hone in on what exactly your story is about to the most finite detail. Make one of these, and a synopsis or query seems easy in comparison (at least it makes you grateful you have more space than a few tiny slides). On top of that, they're fun to play with, whether you go fishing for low cost, creative commons media until your eyes bleed so you can use it for marketing, or you privately Google some images and show it to all your friends for kicks. All it takes is some imagination and a few hours of hard patience as you scour the internet for resources and reevaluate everything about you're book...easy, right?

Tomorrow, a Part 2 of this mini-series on book trailers: how exactly to make the suckers.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Not Dead and Joy Jumping!

Wow, what a hiatus. Sorry for the blogcation, guys. So many things piled up at once and...well none of it was really post worthy. Now, big news! I'm so excited it's not even funny, despite all the business suddenly consuming my end of semester life.

For a few months now, I've been submitting my novel "Faerie Games" to agents and publishers alike. At first I tried TOR Fantasy...on my first letter. Yeah, a very polite rejection with some blue ink showed up in my mailbox. By then, I knew I'd shot too big. Then I tried some small presses and agents. Enter more glorious rejections (surprisingly, I actually like them). One of the publishers did ask for a partial though, then a full, then...

They made an offer!

I'm not going to give too many details until any hypothetical ink is dry, but I had to squeal something since it's my first. Eeeeee! It's my favorite email of the year so far, I swear.

In other news, I got some really nifty Half-Blood swag in the mail from J.L. Armentrout along with the book I won in one of her wonderful monthly "Got Titanium?" contests (seriously, free new release, the swag includes a guitar pick, and she's one of the nicest/funniest people you'll ever meet. You can't beat checking this lady out).

T.K. Richardson also sent me an amazing hand-made book mark because of her "Pay It Forward" post. It's all red and shiny with the cutest charms. Her blog always has great insights into the writing life and weekly resources I've used on more than one occasion. She's a joy to read every time, believe me.

I'd put up pictures of this awesome -- it's all so pretty!-- but my webcam is on the fritz and I still haven't figured out how to import pictures from my phone to my computer without the little cord... I hope you guys are enjoying the heck out of your weeks/weekends/days/mornings/lives! I sure am with mine right now.