Tag Archives: Nathan Bransford

Book Trailer. Friend or Fiend?

Book Trailers.  What do you think of them?  Are they valuable?  Is this the next best way to use the wonderful free media  outlets out there to help promote yourself, or is this the next best way to shoot yourself in the foot?

Which camp are you in?

My answer (Surprise!  I have an opinion!) is that it can really go both ways.  As in any marketing idea, it depends on what you put into it.  The best book trailer I have ever seen is actually a FAKE one put together by Nathan Bransford to show how easy it was to make one.  Unfortunately, I searched through his site, and I cannot find it.  Anyone have it?

Here is a great one I can link up to.  It is a little long for my tastes.  They probably could have edited it down under two minutes, especially without music —  but WOW does it pack a punch.  Take a look.  This is definitely one of the five best I’ve seen, despite the length.

Here’s another live-action one, with voice-over.  This one I think is pretty good too.  And it’s short enough that it does not annoy you out of buying the book.

The worst one I have seen?  Hmmmm.  Out of the 30 Book Trailers I have watched preparing for this article, you actually want me to pick the worst out of the 27 that were just horrible?

I think the numbers make my point without picking on any one person.  I don’t want to embarrass anyone.

This is the thing.  You are going to get out of it what you put into it.  Let’s take a look at another one that I think is pretty good.  This one does not have expensive live-action.  It’s just pictures, graphics and swipes, and a really good soundtrack.  The pictures are perfect, and it doesn’t look thrown together.

Wow.  Good, huh?  Even if you don’t like the genre, you are tempted… aren’t you?  So what made this so much better than the other 28?  I will take a wild guess and say PRICE.  I don’t know if it was professionally done or not, but the person who did it knew what they were doing, and took their time to make sure it was RIGHT.

The other 28?  Well, they look like they were thrown together on someone’s home computer.

What does this say about your work?

As a consumer looking at a book trailer… this is what goes through my head when I see a bad book trailer.

“Is the book as lame as that trailer was?”

“Is that the best they could do?”

“Is the book going to be as bad as that trailer?”

These are all normal, honest reactions.  On the flip side, for the really good trailer… something professionally done means someone believed in the work enough that they spent the time, and maybe money, to produce a quality product.  If they took the time to do this, the book must have been worth it.

Is a bad book trailer going to make you pass over the book?  In my eyes… YES.  Others may have a different opinion, but for the reasons I listed above… yes.

My Opinion?  If you are going to do it at all… do it right.  Get a professional to do it.  If you are going to get a bunch of stock photography that is mismatched and does not flow together, and glue it together with a cheesy free soundtrack in the background you are not doing your novel any justice.

You are better off not having a book trailer at all.

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Are you going to send out queries during Christmas break?

I’ve spoken to a lot of people who are finishing up their novels (some of them from Nano) and are going to query their brains out during their Christmas vacations.

Me?  Nope!  No Way!

First of all, even though I am done, I want to get one more round of good solid beta reads in.  But there is another reason.

I remember reading something a long time ago that made a ton of sence, and it really stuck with me.  Oddly enough, I came across the article by accident the other day.  (The link is below) Re-reading it again made me feel even better about my timeline skipping right over Christmas and starting to query in a few months.

Nathan made some really good points in this article.  For those of you who aren’t familiar with Nathan Bransford, he used to be an agent, but recently left the agenting business and is now an author.

Nathan said there are not any good or bad times to query, with two exceptions.  You can read the full article below, but for those of you who are terrified of little links, here it is in a nutshell:

Don’t query if you know the agent is out of the office. Also don’t query around major holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas, Hanukkah, etc.

The reason is that many people have off, and a lot of them are using their time to send out queries… to agents that are not there because they are on vacation, or are leaving for vacation.  This means the agents are rushing through their submissions so they can finish before they leave, or they are just coming back to a pile of work that they have to RACE THROUGH to get caught up.

As Nathan said “take it from me — you don’t want to be part of a massive query pile when an agent is feeling a time crunch.”

“Ideally, sure, we’d give all queries equal time, consider every one similarly, whether we’re reading a pile of 10 or a pile of 500.  Ideally. 

“Reality: human nature is human nature.  When faced with a mountain that feels like it won’t move, you start moving a little quicker, take fewer chances, etc. etc.  I really aspire to keep a constant pace regardless of my workload, but it’s hard not to adjust how many partials you’re requesting based on how much work awaits.”

“Just don’t do it.  Avoid the weeks around major holidays.  It’s better to be part of a trickle than a flood. “

I think these are sound words of advice, especially since he wrote this when he was still an agent.

So, are you querying now?  Are you planning on querying next week?   Please, by all means do!  (She grins and giggles with her evil witch laugh)

I will be more than happy to tip-toe over you lightly in a few months if you are sitting in the slush pile.

Please check out Nathan Bransford’s site, and his first novel, Jacob Wonderbar.

Nathan Brandsford:  Is there a best time to Query?

Is your novel safe? The Copyright Question.

As many of you know, I am about to send my novel out for the final polishing round of beta-reads.  A few people have asked me, “Is that safe?” or “Are you going to copyright it first?”

The answers to those questions are:  Yes, it is safe, and No, I will not be copyrighting it first.  Let me explain…

I had the same hesitation when I first started sending to Beta Partners a little over a year ago.  I read a few articles that said not to worry about it.  The one I trusted the most was Nathan Bransford, who said there is too much of an electronic trail for anyone to be able to easily steal your work.

Recently, when I had the opportunity to discuss the topic with Best Selling Author Jonathan Mayberry.  He said that many publishers will not even deal with you if you have already copyrighted the work.  (Although Danielle Ackley McPhail admitted to getting her first novel copyrighted first and not having any problem.)

When I was a kid, before the World Wide Web was in everyone’s homes (Wow, did I just date myself)  The way to “Protect Yourself” without actually copyrighting your novel was to get a printed copy, seal it in an envelope, and mail it to yourself.  Then don’t break the seal when you get it.  This way there is an official post mark on it.  This would probably work today.  However, there are easier ways in this new Cyber-Era.  And I am guessing a lot of you don’t know it, but you are already protected.

Jonathan Mayberry pointed out that YOUR HARD DRIVE is admissible as evidence.  Where is your novel stored and date-tagged?  On your hard drive?  Well, lookey there!

You can also simply email your novel to yourself, and then save the email.  Boom!  There’s your date stamp.

Are you worried about your Beta Readers stealing it?  Did you just email it to them?  Guess what?  That email is evidence that it was yours first.  There are just too many electronic data trails out there today to make it easy to steal someone else’s work.

I’ve also protected myself unintentionally by getting my novel printed on-line so my sister could read it. (Just a copy, it was not published)  It was cheaper than going to Kinko’s or using up my toner.  So there is a permanent record on file with that company.

These are all ways you can protect yourself.  You can, of course go for the copyright, but after hearing Jonathan’s comment that some publishers will not look at you if you are copyrighted, I’d be cautious (maybe check the requirements of some publishers, first)

If you do copyright, be prepared that you will have to “re-copyright” once your actual final draft is approved by your publisher.  Anyone who thinks their novel is so perfect that there will be no changes at all is just being foolish.

Note:  You might want to be careful if the publisher copyrights for you, to make sure that you still own the copyright.  If you will not, make sure you and your lawyers are comfortable with that agreement.

If you are self-publishing, you need to make a choice.  I think I’d copyright before I self-published.  It’s easy to do, and doesn’t really cost that much.  You also don’t have to wait to hear back from them.  You are good to go as soon as you hit the submit button.

Disclaimer:  I am not a lawyer, and I am in no way qualified to give legal advice.  These are just my opinions based off what professionals I have met (or read) have offered as advice.  If you have any real concerns, talk to your agent or lawyer.

Hope you find this helpful!

Lesson Six from the Gold Mine Manuscript Red Line: Watch that Voice!

For an intro into where these tips are coming from, please see my post: A Full Manuscript Rejection, or a Gold Mine?

When you are writing, especially if you are writing YA or middle grade, watch the voice. In the Gold Mine Manuscript, I know I mentioned the voice when I was beta reading, but my BP said her teenager read it and said it was okay, so I figured maybe I was just behind the times.

In this novel, the Main Character is supposed to be 15, but my brain just made him 17 (no matter what the novel was telling me).  Do you know why?  I believe it was the voice.  I mentioned it, but my BP seemed comfortable with it, so we moved on.

I was also having the same struggle in my own novel, and was on an up and down roller coaster with my own young character’s voice, so I know how hard a young boy’s voice can be, so I knew I was no expert.

You know what the publisher marked up over and over again in the gold mine manuscript?  THE VOICE.

They mentioned that teenagers answer in quips and half-completed sentences.  I have to admit, my middle graders do the same thing. No perfect grammar for them.  Simplicity is the key.  “Yeah” instead of “yes” is more realistic than a full sentence.

I’m wondering about my own novel on this one.  My kid is from another planet, and grows up under the tutelage of a King.  I don’t want him saying “yeah”, but I don’t want a publisher calling me on it, either.  Maybe a few of the other characters can slip on their grammar a little.  Hmmmm…

My suggestion:  If you are writing for teens, get several teens to read it and ask them to be honest.  Same goes for Middle Grade.  This publisher actually had a teenager read the manuscript to make sure of the voice, and the teen said it didn’t sound real and they didn’t get the words she was using.  Yikes.

Moral of the blog:

If anyone reads your manuscript and tells you that there are possible problems with the voice, I’d take them seriously… ask a few more people to read it.  Drop it on a web site (I like Nathan Bransford’s site).  Get as many opinions as you can.
In the end, you still might not end up okay.  (To be honest, my five-year old drops bonus S.A.T. words all the time, so if I wrote his voice for-real, this publisher would red-line it—so who knows?)

There are a lot of things I’ve not changed about my manuscript that people have mentioned, but voice is one that I have always paid attention to.  If one person mentions something, I may tweak just a little, but if a few people mention it, I tweak a lot.  There is still a possibility that my MC may age a few years in the opening scene, just because of voice issues.

Don’t fall in love with your characters so much that you cannot recognize that their voice is all-wrong.