Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Adventures in Self-Publishing: Book Trailers


Today I'm going to talk about the 2012 RWA National Workshop, Deciphering Book Trailers.

The speaker was Jeannie Ruesch

In addition to being an author, she also owns a design firm called Will Design For Chocolate (which makes me hungry just looking at it!).

I went to this workshop knowing nothing about book trailers. I'd never even watched one!  After the workshop, I really think it's something fun and interesting to do for your book promotion.

It can get expensive, though, so I haven't done it yet, and am not going to spend a bunch of money for a professional to create one for me. I will have to invest time to make one myself, so for now it's on the back burner for me.

Here are some of the book trailers she showed at the workshop:

Death of a Cure (notice not too many details/cryptic)

Jonathan Fields (incredibly powerful)


It's hard to summarize the workshop, since she went through each video, showing what worked and what didn't, but here are some general tips:

•create an emotional response in viewer. Push their buttons. Make them feel.

•set up expectation/anticipation

•You have 10 seconds at most to hook them.

•don't try to squeeze in a whole synopsis! It's not a query letter. You're setting mood, expectations. Trust the reader to fill in the gaps.

•"You have to respect the fact that imaginations are deeply private."--Peter Mendelsund, Knopf book jacket designer

•Don't tell the story! Create an emotional connection, pull them in, make them want to find out what happened. Leave them wanting more.

•Short sentences--none longer than 5 words. A power word in every sentence.

•Use the images. Don't just have an image of kissing to illustrate the word kissing. Don't be so literal. Use an unexpected twist. An example was a video for a suspense book that first showed a woman tied up to convey, duh, a woman held captive. But when the image was changed to images of a dark, scary place/a hand coming out of the darkness/shadows, it was actually more effective than a literal image of kidnapping. Look for that compelling image, not the most obvious one.

A final word, not from the workshop, about all this marketing jazz: http://youtu.be/OFki2O8-28s

So, have you made a book trailer? Do you want to? Have you ever seen one? If you have seen some book trailers, which ones have you liked/found effective?

Next time, on November 14th, I'll either be talking about Christmas books (if I have mine done!), or non-Kindle publishing outlets.

Until then, happy writing, everyone. :-)

Barb
author of the Pajaro Bay romantic mystery series

Monday, October 29, 2012

Weekly Progress Check-In

Welcome!  This is the Mid-Willamette Valley RWA chapter's weekly progress check-in.

Did you meet your writing goals last week?  What do you plan to accomplish this week?

(The best prize is achieving your writing goals, but as an extra incentive, we will award gift cards from Powell's bookstore to the chapter member and the non-member who check in for the most weeks in 2012.)

Thursday, October 25, 2012

FLEXING YOUR FLEXIBILITY

Current Project: Book #7 of Halo Legacy Series
Status: Almost finished!
Posted by: Genie Gabriel




I've come to think one of the most useful traits for a writer is flexibility. Why? Let's consider:

--Most writers also have a "day job," at least when they start writing. So you write when you can.

--Most writers also have other commitments and roles (spouse, mother, daughter, aunt, friend, pets, volunteer, etc.--you can add to this list). So you juggle your many different roles and hope everything doesn't come crashing down.

--When polishing a story, a critique partner might not like a particular part of your story or, heaven forbid, one of your main characters. Do you revise or feel strongly enough to leave it alone?

--When trying to get published, an agent or editor might not like a particular part of your story and ask for revisions, with still no guarantee of a sale. So do you revise or submit somewhere else?

--After you've sold a manuscript, an editor might request revisions. Do you revise or risk losing the contract? 

--Your cover sucks. Do you request something different or make the best of it?

--Sales are so-so or almost nonexistent. Do you hide in your cave or come up with a different marketing plan?

Yes, it's been a week or so of needing flexibility for me. How about? Are there other instances for you where flexibility has been your friend?

Monday, October 22, 2012

Weekly Progress Check-In

Welcome!  This is the Mid-Willamette Valley RWA chapter's weekly progress check-in.

Did you meet your writing goals last week?  What do you plan to accomplish this week?

(The best prize is achieving your writing goals, but as an extra incentive, we will award gift cards from Powell's bookstore to the chapter member and the non-member who check in for the most weeks in 2012.)

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Adventures in Self-Publishing: Building Reader Loyalty Workshop Highlights


Today I'll be talking about my impressions of this workshop from the 2012 RWA National Conference:

Speakers: Nancy Berland, Sheila English, James Rollins, Barbara Vey, Rebecca York

The speakers were:

Nancy Berland of Nancy Berland Public Relations (bestselling clients like Debbie Macomber)

Sheila English of Circle of Seven Productions (she popularized the book trailer) 

James Rollins, author of bestselling thrillers 

Barbara Vey, book blogger at Publishers Weekly 

Rebecca York, NYT betselling author 

What a line-up! This workshop was packed with information on connecting with readers. I'll try to highlight some of the discussion, but I highly recommend getting the workshop audio on this one as well.

Here are some of their tips, in no particular order:

•First, last, and everything in between: be respectful, kind and interested in all your interactions with readers. Treat readers well and they will be loyal.

•subscribe to Barbara Vey's twitter feed--she's one of the top 10 book bloggers 

•the core of reader loyalty is forming a relationship. Ways to do that: answer your own email; provide a contact button on your web site; make interaction with you easy and fun.

•social media takes time from writing. You have to balance it. You must get the writing done first. The book is most important.

•Rebecca York: only put up positive stuff on social media; make people feel excited about you. Do not engage with negativity. Don't respond to bad reviews or negative people. Stay positive. People are attracted by positive personalities.

•Be consistent in your writing (consistent with your book brand, in other words). Tone, genre should be in keeping with your writing style. Don't write dark and gloomy posts if your books are humorous. Don't get into off-topic areas that clash with your brand.

•Off-topic areas that are consistent with your brand are great, though. For example, if you write cozy mysteries, topics like cooking, gardening, or travel might be of great interest to your readers. Just keep with the same type of topics that your readers will be interested in.

•You have to care about your readers. Connect with them. Don't just push books at them, but talk about common interests and find ways to get them involved. Talk about them, too, not just about yourself. See things through their eyes and ask them questions.

•Consistency builds trust; be consistent in your books and in your social media.

•Readers want to believe you are a wonderful person; don't betray that trust.

•Some people hire assistants to tweet or post for them. No one on this panel liked that idea. It's a kind of lie to the reader, to imply they are getting to know you but you're not even there. It feels forced and false, and betrays that trust you want to build with them.

•Maintain a privacy wall. Don't reveal personal things you want to keep private. Don't talk about your kids or your location in detail if you want that private. Choose your topics wisely. Sharing a recipe is great. Sharing your child's school location is not.

•Remember that if a reader contacts you, they are trying to engage. Welcome them and make them feel happy about that connection. Ask them about themselves; don't always talk about yourself. Ask questions.

•Reader appreciation luncheons (like Debbie Macomber does) are wonderful. Any in-person event is golden. Book festivals, signings.

•Pick some venues. You can't do everything. Website is the basic starting point. (Look at James Rollins' website--apparently it's very well done.) They recommend also doing something more immediate than a website--Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest. Something immediate with a lot of interaction.

•Give gifts and prizes. Digital giveaways are good, like a short story or first 3 chapters of a book. Enter to win a book dedication; enter to win a mention in the book (make sure they sign a disclaimer so they don't sue if they hate their namesake character!); enter to name the pet of the hero, etc. These are really fun for readers.

•James Rollins sends bookplates overseas--see his website to see how he does it.

•Asking for volunteers or ambassadors or street teams (whatever you choose to call them) is a great thing for readers. Many love to feel they are helping you succeed. Send them periodic thank yous/excerpts/bookmarks. They are glad to talk up your book, like it on facebook, retweet for you, write reviews, etc. Be appreciative; let them know how much they are helping you.

•Reward loyalty. Make the reader feel special.

Whew. Like I said, I recommend this workshop if you're getting involved with promotion, because it focuses on what's important: connecting with readers and making them feel involved.

Next time, I'll be posting a summary of the book video workshop I attended. Unfortunately that one wasn't taped (probably because it had so many visuals), but it was fabulous and I'll try to gather some coherent thoughts from my notes to share here on October 31st.

Happy writing, everyone!

Barb

Monday, October 15, 2012

Weekly Progress Check-In

Welcome!  This is the Mid-Willamette Valley RWA chapter's weekly progress check-in.

Did you meet your writing goals last week?  What do you plan to accomplish this week?

(The best prize is achieving your writing goals, but as an extra incentive, we will award gift cards from Powell's bookstore to the chapter member and the non-member who check in for the most weeks in 2012.)

Thursday, October 11, 2012

WRITE FASTER!

Current Project: Halo Legacy Series
Status: writing book #7



Because I'm in deadline mania, writing faster is much on my mind. What helps me write faster? Here are some suggestions:


1. Deadline panic! I'm past my deadline and my publisher is being soooo nice.
2. BICHOK--the old "butt in chair, hands on keyboard" really does work for me. When writing moves to the top of my priority list--well, except for doggies and eating--I produce words.
3. Write every day. This kinda goes along with BICHOK. When the story is fresh in my mind, jumping back into it is much easier.
4. Make sure the research is done. When I have to stop in the middle of a book to do research, it really slows me down. I enjoy research and can become sidetracked easily. That can be very time-consuming.
5. Detailed plotting. I can hear pantsters moaning, but if I know where I'm headed, I get there faster. 
6. Know the craft of writing. Much of what slowed me down in the early years of my writing was I didn't have an intuitive feel for the structure of a novel. Well, that "intuitive feel" was a learned skill for me. I had to write a lot (some say at least a million words) before I knew when I should be introducing new issues and when it's time to wrap up subplots because the black moment is fast approaching.
7. Don't be afraid to "slash and burn." There comes a point in my editing when deleting is my friend. Notes to myself, phrases that make me go "huh?", scenes I love but don't move the story forward--all gotta go!


This is soooo much different than when I first started writing. It took fourteen years from the start of my first book until it was published. Granted, the first book was completely rewritten six or eight times. Also, I drafted several other books while I submitted the first one to publishers. However, this is still a long time. 



There are more ways I use to speed up my writing, but how about you? Do you have techniques that help you write faster?

Monday, October 08, 2012

Weekly Progress Check-In

Welcome!  This is the Mid-Willamette Valley RWA chapter's weekly progress check-in.

Did you meet your writing goals last week?  What do you plan to accomplish this week?

(The best prize is achieving your writing goals, but as an extra incentive, we will award gift cards from Powell's bookstore to the chapter member and the non-member who check in for the most weeks in 2012.)

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Adventures in Self-Publishing: Audiobooks Part 2


In my July 25th blog, I discussed creating audiobooks through acx.com, which helps you find narrators who can produce a finished audiobook for you. The audiobooks are then distributed to Audible.com, iTunes and Amazon. 

I dipped my toes in the audiobook water with my first project, Cat's Blood, a vampire short story. In the three months since its release, the audiobook for this short story has earned back only about the cost of producing it. So it's not exactly a barnburner, but it broke even, and I own the audio rights for seven more years, so it might in the end be a bit profitable.

I decided to do a second project, just to see how a full-length book would work.

For this project, The Honeymoon Cottage, the first book in my Pajaro Bay series, I wanted a young woman's voice to match the age and personality of the heroine.

I ending up working with a narrator named Elizabeth Siedt, a younger actress (in fact, I think this may have been her first audiobook project). I went with a newer narrator because the price was a lot more reasonable than the very experienced actor I had hired for my short story. Since you pay by the finished hour, I was able to produce the entire full-length book for about the same cost as the short story.

So, did I learn anything from this second project? 

First, if your book contains any regional terms or foreign words, you'll need to tell your narrator how to pronounce them (think of how someone from outside of Oregon might pronounce Willamette for a good example!). I had several Spanish phrases in my book, and of course the title of the series itself contains a Spanish word, Pajaro (the Spanish word for bird). Many of the auditioning narrators didn't pronounce the words correctly, and I realized how, because of my own background, I hadn't considered the variation in accents and pronunciation in other parts of the country. So I ended up creating a pronunciation guide for narrators. I was able to find a vocabulary lesson online that provided audio of Spanish words, and linked to that. If you are using something more unusual (say, you created a new language for your fantasy world), you might need to record yourself reading those words and upload it. Funny how we don't think about things like that until we hear our own work read aloud.

With that little issue solved, I narrowed down the auditions to a couple of potential narrators. One was an experienced actress from San Francisco. She had a wonderful delivery, but had a bit more mature and soothing voice that wasn't quite what I was looking for. The other was the one I picked. I had several people listen to the samples, and the decision was unanimous to go with Elizabeth Siedt. She captured the tone of the story well, and read in a really appealing way that seemed to fit the young heroine.

The audiobook was released September 19. Surprisingly, it immediately jumped into the top 40 in audible.com's romantic suspense category. It's been selling steadily since release, though I haven't done any real promotion for it. I noticed the majority of buyers were audible.com regulars who used their membership credits to buy the book, so I think they were just stumbling across it.

This project has already, in twelve days, earned back more than its production cost, and appears on its way to becoming quite profitable. I'm now scrambling to get another one produced ASAP, and would love to have my Christmas book available in audiobook form by holiday time.

My second attempt at producing an audiobook appears to have been more successful. It's hard to tell at this point, but I understand some listeners like to read along in the text while they listen, so that may account for a bit of a spike in e-book sales for this title that happened around the same time.

So, as I asked in the first blog, is it worth the bother to produce an audiobook version of your self-published work? In this case it clearly seems to be. I'm already making money on the book, and two of the reviews specifically mentioned wanting more in the series to listen to. So I think this could be a good supplement to my writing income.

Now I just have to scramble to finish my Christmas story and see if I can get it produced before this year's Christmas trees end up in the recycling pile....

Happy writing, everyone!

Barb
Hear a free sample of The Honeymoon Cottage

Monday, October 01, 2012

Weekly Progress Check-In

Welcome!  This is the Mid-Willamette Valley RWA chapter's weekly progress check-in.

Did you meet your writing goals last week?  What do you plan to accomplish this week?

(The best prize is achieving your writing goals, but as an extra incentive, we will award gift cards from Powell's bookstore to the chapter member and the non-member who check in for the most weeks in 2012.)