Thursday, May 9, 2013

I might be in denial, but the view is pretty from here.

By Gayle Carline
Author of Humorous Mysteries and Mysterious Humor

I'm sort of re-cycling a post I did on my own little blog a while ago, not because I'm lazy, but because I'm in the middle of writing my newest mystery and my characters are pretty anxious to get this party started. I've got to kill someone in about a chapter and a half, so you see I'm pressed for time.

I want to talk about book trailers. I keep puzzling over them, noodling if you will, because in theory, I think they should be part of a book's basic pitch to the masses, one of the things we include with a media release. In practice, most of them end up in the YouTube Black Hole, where no one can find them and no one is looking for them.

Kind of like playing tag with your mean cousin.

Actually, I should refer to them as "book videos." Believe it or not, the term "book trailers" is a registered trademark and its owner can take you to task (or to court) for using it. Hand to God, it's true. See here, under the question "What is a book trailer?"

I know some authors eschew them. They rightly point to the fact that most book videos get lost in space and tell you it's time/money wasted. Well, except for James Patterson who gets his videos on prime time TV (usually during Castle), and he's got more money than God, so seriously, why is he bothering to advertise at all?

But I remember the day that MTV went live and changed the music landscape (I remember the first video, too). Now musicians had to either photograph well or hire clever folks to build music videos that didn't include pictures of them. I haven't watched MTV in quite a while, but every time I look up a song or band on the internet, it looks like videos are still being made.

Now I'm looking at the changing face of the book. It seems to me that ebooks, if they haven't started already, will soon be including links to places and people that are mentioned in them, or videos of events, etc. The reader is not only using their imagination as we take them on our fictional journey; they can be immersed completely in our world. I can envision everything from soundtracks when I read, to the ability to create my own idea of the main character and role play as the story goes.

And no, I'm not a gamer. I'm just a reformed engineer.

What I think this means is that we haven't been pushing the book video envelope far enough. It's not enough to throw your vid on your website and YouTube and hope for the best. That and five bucks will get you a latte. We need an outlet for ALL book videos to get air time in front of readers.

Some of my ideas are:

- A Book Video Channel. On TV and the internet, like MTV in its early days. Maybe split up some of the book videos with author interviews, book signing events, readers' picks, book reviews, etc. It could sell advertising space to the people who support writers, like computer makers and sellers, bookstores, Amazon... and James Patterson.

- A weekly/monthly feature of book videos on other programs that feature book reviews.

- Access to videos by bookstores (either brick and mortar or online) that allows them to display them on a monitor in the store or in a corner of their website.

Got any other ideas? Let your imagination run wild. Mine is.

In the meantime, here are my videos for my three mysteries. Yes, I made them myself. No, I'm no Martin Scorsese. I'm just a gal with a weird sense of humor and a son who has a killer voice and writes music.




For bonus points, and a free e-copy of my latest, The Hot Mess, what was the first music video shown on MTV? (Shame on  you if you Googled it!)


  1. Just what the world needs! More advertisement for the 15 trillion books out there. :) Kidding.

    But I admire your creativity, Gayle. I haven't done a video since my first book, except some corny author messages...that I plan to take down. And redo some day.

  2. Creating a video for my first book was kind of fun, and I think it turned out well. And there is a link to it in an anthology I was part of. What a kick to see my little movie on my Kindle Fire.

    Your videos are cute and spunky (gosh, where did they get that from?) but so many are boring enough that there's no way I want to read the book they represent.

    Has anyone begun an award program for Best Video?

  3. You're so cutting edge, Gayle! Good for you! All those seem like great ideas to hook in reluctant readers and the new generations of bored-fast, entertain-me readers. I admire your spunk and creativity, Gayle! You go, girl!

  4. I LOVE the FREEZER BURN video. I LoLd. Really.

    I don't know if I'm eligible or not, but the first music video on MTV was "Video Killed The Radio Star" by the Buggles.

  5. I LOVE the FREEZER BURN video. I LoLd. Really.

    I don't know if I'm eligible or not, but the first music video on MTV was "Video Killed The Radio Star" by the Buggles.

  6. Of course you're eligible, Marlyn. You're right, too, although you look way too young to have actually watched it when it happened.

    If you don't have The Hot Mess yet, I'd be happy to send it to you in whatever e-format you'd like. Otherwise, I could send you Snoopy's book, or even the one I'm working on now, except you have to wait for that one. I've only just killed the guy!

  7. I have one trailer for my first book, but I didn't make one for the others. I'll admit, I never watch book trailers and I rarely go on YouTube. I'm too ADD to sit still through them. Of course, I'm going to have a peek at yours now, Gayle....

  8. The Freezer Burn video was LOL.
    Interactive books - which is what you're suggesting via hyperlinks, etc. - aren't the same as prose. I do agree we will have hybrid forms of narrative. A friend of mine, a writer, editor and publisher in the comics field, was telling me about motion comics - which are a crossover of movies and comics.
    But those aren't the same as book videos, which are promotional/marketing tools. I think the question is therefore a marketing one: prior to the ebook revolution, authors fought for limited shelf space and shelf time. Once on the shelf, though, the marketing was in place, more or less. Now the shelf space is unlimited, and the marketing niche more constricted. (Your point about the YouTube black hole - this vs. TV or cable, etc.)
    So your ideas, I think, will move forward the book video as a promotional/marketing tool. It will be a blurb of its own.
    By the way, Gayle, how do you kill someone in a chapter-and-a-half? I've read stories where people are killed in refrigerators, in airplanes, in all sorts of place. But how do you get a character into a chapter-and-a-half, anyway? I've gotten characters half-baked. Is it similar to that?
    Another point. You said: "And no, I'm not a gamer. I'm just a reformed engineer." I thought all gamers were reformed engineers. And all engineers frustrated gamers. Or mystery writers.
    btw, I am planning on doing a book video for my next novel (almost done the first draft), so I hope you revisit the topic soon.
    As always, thanks, good folk.

  9. David - how do I kill a character in a chapter-and-a-half? Paper cuts, dude. It's brutal.

  10. A Video Hall of Fame, located in Placentia, Ca?

    Sadly, I'm old enough to remember the first MTV video, and not young enough to ask Google: What Marlyn said.

  11. Drew, you know I'd totes do that. You want an e-copy of one of my books? Say the word.

  12. Aw, you're so sweet. I'll have to check and see which ones I haven't already bought. I know I have a few on my Kindle .


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.