Sunday, June 8, 2008

Book Videos

After my last post, gdtownshende left an "off-topic" comment on book videos, with a link to a video on Fox news about the many authors that are creating them. Authors or publishers create a short video about their upcoming book and upload it to YouTube. According to the news spot, as many as one-fourth of all writers are doing this. Harper Collins has just opened an in-house studio to record author interviews to upload: "We'd like to record 500 interviews as quickly as possible." Some of the clips, like those I watched for vampire-best-seller Stephanie Meyers, are professionally produced.

I didn't know anything about this. Well, no surprise there -- nobody ever accused me of being on the cutting edge of any technology whatsoever. But I'm intrigued. If I wanted to do this for DOGS, due out next month, could I? Certainly Tachyon, a small press, doesn't have the resources to help. What resources are needed? My father, a pretty good amateur photographer, has a camcorder, plus equipment to create montages from various media; he created a DVD for each of my children's lives when they graduated from high school. Would that be sufficient? On the other hand, would an amateur-looking video do more harm than good, suggesting a vanity press or amateur author?

I have no idea. And I've never been good at drumming up publicity for my books. When I first started publishing, I did TV and radio spots and sent out press releases for each new book, but I quickly decided I didn't like that stuff and dropped it. What I do now is the stuff I do like: convention appearances, this blog, and the occasional keynote speech at writing festivals. Maybe that's not enough.

The world used to be simpler.

A promotional video for DOGS. I could use that footage of my sister's collie...and my poodle...and...

13 comments:

kendall said...

I could get a friend at work to loan you her chihuahua.... ;-)

I don't understand video ads for books. If you can get someone to click a link to see info about a book, a description (with a picture of the cover) is much more useful and much less gimmicky.

Waiting while a video chugs along, just to read or hear the description at the video-maker's pace, is very tedious! It's a silly gimmick--everything is on Youtube, so books ads must be too?! A video ad for something that has no pictures or video just seems goofy to me.

Interviews can be interesting--but although Fox (bastion of jounalistic excellence, I'm sure) may conflate the two, IMHO there's a world of difference between a real interview (note: not just an author reading the same description!) and the cheesy "ads" I've seen with bad animation and voiceover and/or textover simply describing the book.

Just my two cents. ;-)

Tim of Angle said...

Okay - Look at Jerry Pournelle's site, http://www.jerrypournelle.com/view/2008/Q2/view521.html -- people are reading what is essentially just a diary about what he does every day -- and they're sending him money for the privilege. Surely you have many fans who would just like to know how you're doing. Holly Lisle does the same thing with her newsletter. It doesn't matter how "professionally produced" it is, just let the fans feel more connected. We would love it, I assure you.

Mike Flynn said...

And there you have it. No and Yes.

YouTube is a junkdrawer full of treasures (Sharon Kam playing Mozart's Clarinet Concerto on a basset clarinet) to incredibly inept and amateurish self-indulgence.

My take: an amateurish video may deceive the viewer into thinking this is one more self-published vanity. (Your existing fans will know otherwise; but you're trying to attract new blood.)

A video of text - which is what interviews and readings and descriptions are - can be boring. (Can be; need not be.)

Is there a local theater group in Rochester? A dramatic reading, or enactment of a scene? Hmm. At least your dogs aren't in outer space. That would pose some problems video-wise.

There are, in fact, already two Nancy Kress videos on YouTube, one from Dortmund, one from China(?):
http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=Nancy+Kress&search_type=
(Just enter Nancy Kress for the search string.)

Nancy Kress said...

But, Mike, I don't want to be IN my book video...I just want it to be about the book. I hate the way I photograph.

Tim -- I thought this blog is already about what I do every day! Surely you don't mean stuff other than about fiction: walking the dog, doing the laundry, seeing friends...

kendall said...

Mike: "Video of text"--good description! I feel a good interviewer and a dynamic interviewee can transcend that, however. It might be my attention span, but reading interviews gets tedious for me; a good podcast interview keeps me interested. Okay, granted: I listen to the latter during my dull commute. ;-)

Tim of Angle said...

The point is: Whatever you feel comfortable with. I firmly maintain that more is better than less.

YouTube can be an excellent marketing tool. I have in mind the interviews that Neal Gaiman and John Scalzi did out at Google, which I still replay every now and then because they're just interesting people, and it gives me a way to introduce them to friends who aren't familiar with the genre. However badly you may think you photograph, there are few people less photogenic than John Scalzi.

kendall said...

Scalzi's Google thing was great; he's a dynamic speaker (and not unphotogenic, IMHO ;-).

Nick said...

My wife and I both work in silicon valley. I will have a discussion with her this week (she is in marketing) about ideas on how to position _Dogs..._ to an expanded/new readership. One idea might be approaching SPCA and pitching a banner ad on the book, where you donate some/all the proceeds of the sales from that link, to the SPCA.

Here's a dog story. In 1996 my wife worked at Autodesk, which at the time was reportedly the largest public company to have a formal HR policy for dogs (essentially you could bring your dog to work as long as a) it had a company photo ID on its collar; b) was well behaved). On a typical day, 75 dogs were at the corporate offices. Our dog was a kind of 'poster child' for any media requests for a story on the 'dog HR policy.' We still have a copy of USA Today, where our dog was in 5 color-photo spread on 'taking your dog to work' human interest story.

Nancy Kress said...

Nick-- I seriously doubt the SPCA will approve of DOGS. In it, pet dogs are found to be carrying a deadly mutated virus. Like rabies, it attacks the brain, turning previously sweet Fido into a killer. The government needs to round up dogs that are, or very well, could be infected, to contain the epidemic. It strikes (not by accident, BTY) in a small town on the Maryland-West Virginia border. Many folk in that part of the woods are armed, and they do not like surrendering their pets.
By the way, your wonderful "dog story" illustrates why at least four publishers turned this book down. Those four explicitly said that the content would be too upsetting to dog lovers (I saw the rejection slips). Americans love their pets.

Nick said...

You are right. The SSPA was a brainless concept. However, there should be a tie-in somewhere that would appeal to a broader readership...

Nick said...

(SPCA, not SSPA)

gdtownshende said...

Man! I can't believe what I missed in the few days I've been away. Fly to Atlanta to pick up my boys so they can come visit me for a month this summer, and I find that my "off topic" comment spurred a bit of a conversation.

I've seen several book videos, by Stephenie Meyers, as well as by M J Rose, and others, and while a few have spurred my interest in a book, I can't say that I've actually purchased a book simply because of a book video. More often than not, my purchasing decisions are made in a bookstore, as well as online (at either Amazon or Barnes & Noble). Even when friends recommend a book to me, the decision to buy is always preceeded by a visit to a bookstore or one of the aforementioned websites. (I purchased Meyers's book, for example, because of a recommendation Amazon's web site made, based on my purchasing habits at that site, as well as based on the items found in my wish list there.)

Although I find the concept intriguing, I doubt very seriously that such videos on YouTube will do much for book sales (but that's just my opinion). Meyers did have her video included on the page where her book, THE HOST, appears at Amazon, and that strikes me as probably the best use of such an item if one is to venture into that form of promotion.

Regarding Holly Lisle's web site, I've been a visitor there on and off since at least 1999, and have purchased some non-fiction books based on her recommendations.

Although I've yet to have any fiction published (if G. Scithers would just buy something of mine instead of sending me the handwritten notes he's sent me in the past, it would help! LOL), I'm of the opinion that a writer is better off with just a blog, or a blog and web site. In addition to your own blog, Nancy, I also visit and read the blogs/sites for (in no particular order) Neil Gaiman, Robert J. Sawyer, K. Bannerman, J. A. Konrath, M J Rose, Holly Lisle, James A. Ritchie, Tess Gerritsen, and others. That gives a good glimpse into my own habits on this subject.

marcinko said...

Nancy, I came across this on Writer Unboxed -- might be of some help...?

http://writerunboxed.com/2008/06/18/creating-a-book-trailer/#more-949