When packaging kills plot points

April 3, 2012 § 8 Comments

Possibly my greatest fear about getting a book published is that a story that I’ve worked for months or years on will get saddled with a cover like this. Now I understand that there are marketing folks at publishing companies that try their darnedest to sell your book and if they choose a cover like this it’s (hopefully) because they think that cover will convince more people to read that book than one with cover art that I might choose. But it’s not a cover that would make a book leap of the shelf into my hands, and I’d be a little self-conscious recommending it to friends and family. I understand that everyone has different tastes and maybe bare-chested heroes (with shaved armpits) on the covers of books appeal to some people, even if they don’t to me. That said, there is one kind of book cover that drives me bananas:

When the packaging or promotion materials ruin plot points of a book (or movie, or story of any kind).

I’m the kind of guy who avoids reading the backs of books and won’t watch trailers for movies that I’m excited to see. I go out of my way to avoid knowing anything about the stories I’m about to read, watch, or otherwise experience, so I find it rather frustrating when my efforts are thwarted by the people at publishing companies. « Read the rest of this entry »


2 things the Hunger Games film reminds us about the book industry

March 23, 2012 § 9 Comments

It’s not a big secret that I’m pretty conflicted about books that are made into movies, even (and sometimes especially) if the movies turn out good. That said, it’s been incredibly encouraging to see all the hubbub created by the release of the first Hunger Games movie. I’ve talked to dozens of people who would never have heard of the book if it weren’t for the movie, many of them who were reading it to see what the commotion is all about. Even better–“something better than getting people reading?!” you ask–yes, even better is that it’s getting people talking about the themes of the book, like privileged people taking what they have for granted and turning a blind eye to the suffering of others, and being used by non-profits as an opportunity to raise awareness about world hunger.

And I have to admit that it would be dishonest of me to say that I haven’t been stoked to see it.

So rather than get down about the fact that many times more people are going to see the movie than will ever read the book, I’m looking at the positive. « Read the rest of this entry »

Book trailers from a video professional’s perspective

January 13, 2012 § 8 Comments

I’ve been meaning to talk about book trailers for a while, but it was an overwhelming subject to tackle. Then, during the Tuesday night episode of Jersey Shore (I didn’t watch. I just heard. Don’t hate me) there was a book trailer for The Clockwork Prince by Cassandra Clare, which precipitated this post. (Note: for anyone not up to speed on book advertising, book trailers are basically a video hook to try and entice readers to buy your book, much like a movie trailer.)

I have something of a unique perspective on book trailers because, in addition to spending my free time writing and reading, I work full time as video producer and editor « Read the rest of this entry »

Never tell me the odds

November 22, 2011 § 1 Comment

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, everyone and their brother wants to write a book. The more seriously I’ve taken writing, the more aware I’ve become of this fact. If you don’t believe me, just follow #amwriting on Twitter for a day. The Twitter-verse is absolutely lousy with people who are working on their first novel, memoir, poetry book, whatever. If you have any doubts about this, follow #amwriting for an hour and allow your comfortable ignorance to be washed away in a sea of tweets.

Or for another example: I love to follow literary agent Jennifer Jackson’s blog out of some sort of masochism in this regard. Jennifer Jackson does something she calls “Query Wars” wherein she reports the statistics for queries she’s received and the number of manuscripts she’s requested. (For anyone not up to speed on how the publishing world works, once a fiction author has a completed manuscript, they “query” agents with a one page synopsis of what the story is about and who they are.) For example, last week « Read the rest of this entry »

The ink bottle is half full

November 15, 2011 § 1 Comment

It’s the holiday season and whatnot, a time of year that lends itself to thinking of life’s blessings, family, and obscene amounts of delicious food. Over the past weekend my wife and I had two dozen friends over to our little house to celebrate what we have dubbed “Fakesgiving.” Every year all our friends go home to family for the real holiday and we wanted an opportunity to celebrate with all of them, even if it wasn’t on the ‘real’ day (and let’s be honest, who would object to turkey and mashed potatoes twice in November instead of once).

I also reached (or at least half-reached) two significant writing milestones this weekend. For the past several months I’d been eagerly awaiting Friday, November 11 as the day that my first short story would be released. Unfortunately, Friday came and went, then Saturday did the same and still my short story hasn’t been made available to order online and there’s been nary a peep out of the publishing house or staff. Naturally my mind has run off in all manner of depressing and borderline psychotic tangents, (but none of these fears are nearly as bad as the cover art panic from last week). In all likelihood, the magazine, being run by volunteers, is just running a little behind and they haven’t had the time to get the information up on the website yet, but after looking forward to it for three months, I’ve been a little down in the dumps about it.

The second authorial milestone I’ve reached « Read the rest of this entry »

A moment of publishing panic

November 9, 2011 § 3 Comments

I had a big, heart-racing, prepare-yourself-for-embarrassment moment of panic yesterday. First, a bit of background: I started submitting short stories to science fiction and fantasy magazine a little less than a year ago. I started out with two making the rounds of the various big name magazines in sci-fi and fantasy short stories and quickly became frustrated. I had only gathered about six rejections before I was feeling like submitting was a big waste of time (for reference, many stories are rejected a dozen times or more before they find a home).  It wasn’t an “I should burn everything I’ve ever written and never touch a pen again” kind of frustration, more the “My work is clearly not ready to submit” variety. I was ready to pull both stories and buckle down to improve my craft when « Read the rest of this entry »

A little e-reader evangelism

October 19, 2011 § 10 Comments

I don’t own an e-reader. Yet. I love buying books in bookstores, I love having books on the bookshelves in my house, and I love the smell of the paper, so I held out.  But here’s the thing: the smell of the paper is not my favorite thing about books.  My favorite thing about books is the opportunity they provide to experience the world (or different worlds) through the eyes of someone else and an e-reader can do that just as well as paper and ink.

The world of music changed with the creation of iTunes, Netflix changed movie rentals, and now the world of books is changing too, but change isn’t always a bad thing. Interestingly enough, there are lots of indications that e-readers are actually increasing readership.  « Read the rest of this entry »

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