April 19, 2011

Video Book Trailers

I entered an alternate version of my pitch on Disgruntled Bear's blog, and while I was on the site, I noticed the video book trailers  on the side bar and thought making a video book trailer would be a fun thing to try. 

For $1300-$2300, Amazon will create a marketing "Video Book Trailer" for you. (See createspace.com for details.)

I'm not willing to spend that kind of money on my unpublished novel, so here's my attempt to make one myself. 

Hours creating slides: 4
Hours editing: 4
Total Cost: $1.29 (Itunes)

It's not perfect, but I can't beat the price

As for the contest... I'm not going to pretend this is anything but a popularity contest, so I would love it if anyone feels like stopping by and voting for my entry:

One of the twin brothers wants to keep her safe, and the other wants her dead—too bad she has no idea how to tell them apart. (The Solomon Twins) *


*This novel is alternately titled "Note to Self."

April 11, 2011

The Princess Bride, Part II

As promised: Quotes from the classic movie and how they apply to publishing.
Is this a kissing book? Know what genre your book is, and if your book doesn’t seem to fit in any established genre, ask yourself if you are trying too hard to sub-categorize your book. Books are generally divided into two categories, fiction and non-fiction. From there you have genres like Romance, Fantasy, Science Fiction, Memoir, Self-Help. Lumping your book into one of these should be simple enough. I think when we try to narrow that too much we run into trouble.
For example: “I can’t decide between Urban Fantasy and Paranormal Romance because the setting is a dystopian world, but there’s romance in it since the girl falls in love with the guy...”
Your agents will know what’s hot in the market right now and the best way to pitch this to publishers. Ultimately, your publisher will decide which category they want to put your book in. So if you’re really not sure, you won't be misrepresenting it by calling it "fantasy"and letting the query tell the agent if it’s paranormal or urban.
Always look at other books that you think are like yours, and plan accordingly.
You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.
If you were looking for an alternate word and you decide to select another one from Word’s built in thesaurus... chances are you’re using the wrong word. And your readers who are familiar with that word and its proper meaning is going to laugh at your awkward use of it.
You've been chasing me your entire life, only to fail now. I think that's the worst thing I've ever heard; how marvelous.
No, agents aren’t the villains and they are not happy to reject your book. They want the next query they read to be the book they’ve been anxiously waiting for as much as you want them to like it.

Then I can clearly not choose the wine in front of me.
This quote comes from the scene where the characters are having a battle of wits. The villain is trying to think his way through with logic, even though he is actually playing a rigged game. Now, publishing is not rigged, but the important value is to think things through with logic, not emotion. If you jump at the first agent who offers representation without doing your research, you might later realize your agent doesn’t have the connections they need to best place your book.
Let me 'splain. No, there is too much, let me sum up. The need to summarize your book in a query, synopsis, or logline frustrates a lot of writers. I suggest not to think of them as describing the book (since you can’t describe a whole book in a line or a few sentences) but to pick a few elements from the book to pique the reader's interest.  You might not get to mention there’s romance in your fantasy novel in just your logline or query. Your psychological thriller might have a touching arc in regards to the relationship between a father and a son—but if it’s not the best selling point of the book, don’t try to cram the info in the query.
If you have ever gone shopping for bookcases or storage space furniture, you’ve seen how true this marketing element is. A bookcase cluttered with books and knickknacks does not sell as well as one advertising negative space and a few choice items.
The reader is your bookcase shopper, they want things to look simple and clean even though when they get the furniture home, they know that bookcase is going to be overflowing with all their clutter. The reader doesn't want a vague promise “just read it, I swear it’s good.” You must be able to explain your story in a sentence. You must be able to sum it up. Buttercup is marry Humperdinck a little less 'a half a' hour. Period.
Don't rush me sonny. You rush a miracle man, you get rotten miracles.
If you keep nudging the agents you’ve queried to the extent that you're bothering them, they’ll likely get back to you really quickly...with a rejection!

Bow to the Queen of Slime, the Queen of Filth, the Queen of Putrescence. Boo. Boo. Rubbish. Filth. Slime. Muck. Boo. Boo. Boo. Someone isn’t going to love or even like your book. If you aren't prepared for negative reviews, publishing isn’t for you.

Life is pain, highness. Anyone who says differently is selling something.  There is no easy path to publication. Anyone who says differently might be a vanity press. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

No one would surrender to the Dread Pirate Westley.  Established authors usually have two things a debut author does not: a reputation and an established reading base.  Social Networking is really important for debut authors to help establish their “brand” and to help market their book. Confidence is attractive, arrogance is not. Self-promotion should be humble and avoid the appearance of spamming.
Ashamedly, I couldn’t think of a similarity for the film’s most famous quote. If you have one, or want to have fun with another line from the movie,  leave it in the comments!

"My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die."

April 4, 2011

The Princess Bride, Part I

William Goldman, author of The Princess Bride, 1973, famously said "Nobody knows anything." This quote is often mistaken to mean Hollywood executives are stupid, but Goldman actually meant to imply that Hollywood has no real idea how well a film will do before it’s released.
As writers we often receive rejections from agents whom we were sure would love our novel and find ourselves thinking, “Nobody knows anything.” I have sent queries to agents I was certain would be offering representation, and to agents I didn’t think would give me the decency of a rejection letter. In the end, I got a form rejection from my hopeful agent, and a request to read more from the agent I didn’t think would be interested.
In the end, I guess the moral is: I don’t know anything. Query broadly, polish, polish, polish, and keep writing.
No one knows which books are going to be a hit, no one knows what type of marketing dollars pay off, and no one knows exactly where the publishing industry is headed.

EX: Disney spent an estimated $170,000,000 on "Tron:Legacy" and even went as far as to repaint one of Disneyworld's monorails to help market the release of the film. In the end, the movie received mixed reviews from critics and viewers.
In contrast, "Tangled" (which actually had a higher budget due to shortfalls in the animation process) was received by audiences with a much higher approval rating even though the film was given far less promotional attention.
In the fashion industry I've discovered that one of the most common misconceptionsis about designers is that they decide what the next styles will be. Fashion designers have some hand in determining what the next “black” will be, but actually, it’s the consumer who steers the direction of the market.
Sick of the cigarette pants/skinny jeans? Well tough, until people quit buying them, they’re not going away. Same thing with mod clothing and bulky jewelry. Designers can introduce new styles, but what sells in stores is what the clothing buyers demand more of and so that’s what designers will work on giving them.
Several years back there was the “peasant blouse” revolution. Although the clothing designers were sick of trying to reinvent ways to make the bohemian look, they had to because no one would buy anything else for a period and that's how they make money. 

Unfortunately, novel writing has a slower production turn around time than clothing. As writers, we need to write the book we think is going to seem “fresh” 2-3 years from now. Thankfully, novels don’t go out of fashion as quickly as that parka from your winter wardrobe when spring rolls in.
A quick tip I’d suggest is to check out what movies are in line for production in 2012 and 2013. If you’ve got a good marketable eye, you can spot the next Alice in Wonderland or Inception and then have a better chance of being the start of a new trend with your next book.
Coming up: The Princess Bride, Part II— quotes from the classic movie and how they apply to publishing.

April 1, 2011


Epic Follower/Blogfest Contest

My Twitter Pitch:

When Gracie Heart finds threatening notes in her circus costume, she doesn’t realize she’s the one trying to warn herself: she’s next.