Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Final Thoughts on Book Videos

Last one, I promise:

So, how effective are these things, anyway? I honestly don’t know. I personally can’t imagine buying a book simply on the basis of a book video, but I have seen some that were so boring I’ve thought, “Jeez, if the author bores me this badly in two minute, I’d be in tears after fifty pages.” (Which is probably unfair, because writing a book and creating a video advertisement are two very different talents.) So I suspect the first rule of book video production should be, Try not to bore your reader.

How? KEEP IT SHORT! The ones I just did are 40 seconds and probably would have been better at 30 seconds. Book videos are inherently boring, and it’s important to remember that we live in the MTV/Sesame Street Age. The most you can hope for is to convey to your viewer/potential book buyer a feeling for what your book is about. And I use the word “feeling” deliberately; you want to capture the overriding emotional impact of your story. Forget trying to cram in all of your characters’ motivations and problems. Forget showcasing all your clever plot twists and turns. Give me a taste, tease me, and then get out.

And even if you have all the money in the world, think twice about getting actors—even very, very good ones—to dramatize a scene from your book. Almost all the ones I’ve watched came off as just plain silly. Think about movie trailers: they don’t show us an entire scene. Hollywood tempts us with choice snippets—great visuals, clever lines—taken here and there from the movie, all presented in a fast format. I’ve seen authors who made dramatized book videos gush about how wonderful it was to see a scene from their book brought to life by actors. Great for the author, maybe; a bit of a yawn for everyone else. (The only exception to this I’ve seen is the book video for Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters, which—since the title cues you in to expect something—is funny. But I personally would have cut it more; until the final payoff, it gets boring.)

If you don’t feel up to doing your own (although believe me, at this level it’s easy), there are companies that do book videos, probably the best-known being Circle of Seven Productions. They jumped into the business early and actually managed to trademark the term “book trailer.” I kicked around their website before sitting down to write this and I must say their videos are much better than they were when I looked at them three years ago. You can get an el cheapo version similar to my Sebastian videos for $350, which isn’t bad since it also includes limited distribution. Prices escalate rapidly from there, with actors flown in from LA, a production crew coming to your house to interview you, etc. et$$$. They also will distribute author-made videos for a price starting at something like $150, with their highest distribution package at $850 (this highest level is even an extra $800 for their own clients).

If you do your own, remember to respect copyright. When I sent my trailers to NAL, they sent me a legal release form. Obviously they’ve had trouble with authors including copyrighted photos or music in their book videos. No one sues faster than the music industry.

So what do you do with your video once it’s made? Mine are up on Facebook, on my website (eventually), here on my blog, on my publishers’ websites, and I’ll be sending them to any online sites that interview me (one coming soon). I notice that CSP sends their book trailers to libraries via “Overdrive”, whatever that is. One could undoubtedly be more aggressive in distributing them, but I have a book to write! Which as far as I’m concerned is the major problem with all this self-promotion crap: it takes authors away from what they do best. Writing.


Beth said...

March 2011? I have to wait until next March to read this? Gnawing of toenails, how? :-)


Barbara said...

Excellent video! You captured the suspense and the drama of the story, and increased my suspense for the book's release - giving me chills at the same time. You definitely have me chomping at the bit. Amazing what 39 seconds can do.

Barbara Martin said...

Well done, Candy. I'm ready to read the book now, though I can wait patiently for it to be released. It's the creepy music that sold me.

Anonymous said...

Well done, indeed! Well, that gives me something to look forward to next year. (Wistfully) Wish it were sooner, though.

Steve Malley said...

I'll be glad to get back to some writing this weekend. I hope. :)

orannia said...

Thank you Candy - I'll watch it tonight (when I'm on a computer that can cope with video :)

March is...*GULP* 7 months and some change away :( I can do it!

Actually, the funniest non-book video trailer I've ever seen is called Jane Austen's Fight Club. As a rule I stay away from the classic mixes (e.g. Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters, etc.) but this...cracked me up!

cs harris said...

Beth, Sorry! It's a long time, I know. Does it help if I tell you that you probably won't need to wait an entire year after that for #7 ?

Barbara, thank you. I'm glad to hear it works!

Barbara M, ah, someone with patience. I'm catching so much grief for the delay!

Diane, thanks. And I know it seems like it's forever away.

Steve, you have been a very busy bee lately.

Orannia, I'll be interested to hear what you think. A friend recently sent me the Jane Austen Flight Club video. I kept thinking it was a book trailer. I wouldn't be surprised if they make the movie, given how popular it's become.

Firefly said...

A light at the end of the tunnel!!!! Candy, I can't wait for this book. Well done.

orannia said...

Just watched it and I really liked it. Loved the dramatic music and the comments on both the mystery and the 'personal choices' Sebastian faces :)

And I could so see Jane Austen's Fight Club becoming a video. Whoever thought it up was genius :)

Charles Gramlich said...

One day I will do one just to see if I can. One more thing to learn.

Anonymous said...

Loved it - music really builds the drama. I'm relieved to hear #7 won't be far behind, as this waiting longer than a year has been killing me. By the way, thanks for letting us fans lurk on your blog - it is like getting our "fix" while we wait for books. Sabena

Pax Deux said...

What is this about Sebastian facing the consequences of a painful decision?

À coeur vaillant rien d'impossible!

(Well, can you tell I got a bit stuck on that statement... The video is clearly effective)

Anonymous said...

History or legends or folklores or whathaveyou have told us many things, including circumstances where men were confronted with painful decisions to make.

In the case of Sebastian and what possible choices he will be facing in Where Shadows Dance, we have the first five books to refer to, with many hints placed here and there (well, Candy, you did say in another blogpost that you have slipped in lots of little hints in the earlier books! ;) Of course, we will encounter more in Shadows.

BTW, I would also like to take this opportunity to thank you for a series that has engaged me both cerebrally and emotionally. I love your romance books too; re-read them recently and couldn't help smiling when I noticed bits of Sebastian, Kat and Gibson 'lurked' in few of the characters (others may not agree with me though ;). And can't wait to meet Tobie and Jax again (this upcoming November, isn't it)

Anja said...

I really love the St.Cyr books (I'm on team Hero) and can't wait for this next one to appear (I will get the hardcover as I don't have the patience to wait even longer for the paperback).
That said, I completely fail to see the point of book videos (I didn't know they excisted until I visited your site and, frankly, could have lived a happy and fulfilled life in blissful ignorance of them). It looks cheap, the music is awful (AWFUL) and it would not persuade me to buy the book if I was new to the series. But I must admit I am the kind of oldfashioned reader that likes to browse in bookshops and decides which books to buy based on the cover, text on the back and reading the first page to see if the author's voice grabs me.
Sorry to sound so harsh, but it's my honest opinion.

Pax Deux said...

I too noticed hints from other romance books -- well, the one that I read completely, whose title I forget, but whose heroine I will not

India McNight -- the past and future Hero? ;-)

cs harris said...

Firefly, again, sorry for the delay!

Orannia, glad to hear you liked it.

Charles, I for one am looking forward to watching it.

Sabena, good to hear it helps.

Pax Deux, hmmm, I didn't realize that part of the copy was that sensational.

Anon, I'd be interested to hear which characters from the romances you thought were echoed in Kat and Sebastian. I hadn't thought about it myself, but in pondering it, I'm thinking maybe the hero in Midnight Confessions is the closest to Sebastian. Or perhaps The Last Knight?

Anja, I'm not a fan of book videos myself. Their main purpose is to enable my editor to sit in the editorial meetings and support me in house by saying, "Look how much she's doing to promote the books! She even made a book video!" Sigh. That's the kind of stuff that rings New York's bells.

Pax Deux, oh, I hadn't thought about Hero and India, but you are so right! That was Beyond Sunrise. I'm not surprised you can't remember the title. Seriously, that one had me going, Huh?

Firefly said...

Now that book video really whetts the appetite!!! I will be travelling on long long flights soon after your book is released & hope to have a copy with me. It really is a waiting game now. Thankyou