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Hey Everyone!

I thought I’d take just a few minutes to give you some tips on making a book trailer. For me making book trailers is so much fun. Check out my trailers for Priscilla the Great and Secrets of Eden. I’ve even offered to make one for one of my author buddies. But some people don’t know where to start. So here’s a little quick start guide.

1. Go to YouTube and type in Book Trailers. View as many trailers in your genre as you can. Take notes on what you like and don’t like.

2. Write a short script for the trailer. What do you want it to say? And I emphasize short. I personally believe that trailers should not be longer than a minute and a half. Anything more and people get bored with it.

3. Gather pictures that represent themes in your book or the script you’ve created. Collect them all into one folder on your computer so that you know where they are. For my Priscilla the Great trailer, I used all free images from Microsoft Word. For Secrets of Eden, I bought a few pictures for really cheap at iStockphoto and Fotolia. I don’t regret spending a few dollars here because I really like the way it turned out. I also ended up using one of the images for my book cover.

4. Find some free music. For my Priscilla the Great trailer, a friend composed the music for me for free. For Secrets of Eden, I found some great royalty free music at Incompetech. Once again, if you end up having to pay for music, it may be worth it if you really like it. But there is a lot of free music out there so check that out first.

5.If you’re a PC, open Windows Movie Maker and import all the pictures and music from your folder. Click and drag them down to the video bar in the order you want them. Then drag the music down to the audio bar.
There is also something called Photo Story 3 for Windows and I’m sure that’s pretty effective as well. The movie making capabilities for macs are limitless. You can do a lot with a mac, I’m just not familiar with the program.

6. Add transitions and effects, but don’t go overboard. The really cheesy book trailers are the ones that have way too many effects. Personally, I just stick with ease in, ease out, and fade to black. But try out some different things and see what works.

7. Show your trailer to as many people as possible and get opinions. Be open to suggestions as you want your trailer to appeal to as many people as possible.

8. Promote that trailer! While I was looking for places to promote my book trailer for Secrets of Eden, I got an idea. I think I figured out a way to increase traffic to my website as well as help fellow authors and promote my book trailer. On my website, I have the perfect place to display book trailers. I thought I could get 14 or 15 authors each month to send me their trailer. Then I could post it on the site and have a competition for the best trailer each month. I may even be able to give out prizes.

So if you’re interested, go ahead and send your book trailer to me at sybilnelson@hotmail.com.

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Writing a memoir is awfully hard. If you’re a celebrity, it’s a piece of cake. You don’t have to know how to write. In fact you don’t even have to write the book yourself. Agents and publishers  will quiver with desire to sign you on. That’s why Paris Hilton is a best-selling author.  It’s called having a platform, a ready audience just dying to know everything about you from brushing your teeth to how you wipe your derriere.  

If you are an ordinary person with no ready-made platform, you can build one by writing articles for magazines and other publications. The truth is if you’re a writer, someone who has to write or die, chances are you’ve already been doing that and have a modest platform. Good for you.  Even so, your chances of being published are slim unless you treat the memoir as a work of art.

 With memoirs, you’re not writing an autobiography. Rather, you’re writing about a period of your life or a specific incident. The first thing to ask is “Why do I want to write this?” If you’re just seeking emotional catharsis for a traumatic experience, it may be worth your while to visit a therapist  or write for friends and family.  You see, the writing counts. It bears repeating: the writing counts. The protagonist must have a goal, a conflict, an engine that drives the story forward so the reader wants to keep turning the page.

Treat the protagonist as a third person, which is not the same as writing in the third person. Not that a writer can’t choose any point of view he or she likes. Looking at yourself as a third person allows for objectivity and gives your story balance. This is especially important when you have villains. Is the protagonist guilt-free? Is he or she fair? Do the villains have reasons for acting the way they did? Do they have redeeming qualities?

A memoir must have a bigger message that resonates beyond the experience of the individual. This ties in with the reasons for writing. Some form of social commentary woven artfully into the story is essential. Of course, the author’s feelings about events must be included. Readers want to know. However, one must avoid over-indulging in one’s emotions.

Cut out extraneous material. Think of yourself as an artist sculpting an image. However amusing or fascinating, any incident with no bearing to the narrative arc must be trimmed, sand-papered off.

It is okay to use approximate dialogue, but it’s vital to be true to the spirit of the dialogue.  While memories differ from person to person, a writer must be truthful. There’s nothing more upsetting than to fall in love with a memoir only to find the writer made up that story about living with wolves or some such thing. It also hurts future writers who may face skeptical readers and even publishers who don’t want to deal with lawsuits.

Publishers want best-sellers, but they’re even more particular when it comes to memoirs, which does seem unfair. So it’s important to use your best writing skills, write the truth as honestly as you remember it and, unless you go the self-publishing route, pray that some agent falls in love with your work.  Hopefully, your story will inspire, inform and/or entertain.

Best of luck!

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There ought to be a moratorium on that ugly word, submissions! I’m not talking about submissions to agents. I’m talking about when you’ve landed your dream agent, when you’ve revised your manuscript, when he has compiled a list of editors and –yikes—sent the manuscript to them, especially to that lovely editor from the Big House who loved it and suggested changes.

You whoop, you see dollars grow to an impossible mound in your bank account. You start to write a dedication page: To my sweetheart, thanks for putting up with shut doors. To all my fellow-sufferers at TheNextBigWriter, I say:  don’t give up, yadayadayada.

You dream about long lines at your book signings. And henceforth, you’ll fly business class, be one of those annoying people who board the plane first and sit sipping tea and reading the paper while others gawk with envy as they struggle through with their hand luggage.  You’ll even buy an island and dwell on it. In fact, you’ll buy your own plane.

Not so fast! There is that waiting period when you need a constant supply of Imodium AD, when the responses start trickling in and your stomach churns. When you check your email fifty times a day, when you can’t sleep. And even if your manuscript is bought, who says you’ll make mucho dinero?

Forget that manuscript. Sit cross-legged and chant: Hummmm I won’t worrywon’tworrywon’tworrywon’tworry. Pretend that manuscript never existed.  Pick yourself off the floor, forget about chocolates, and begin work on another project. Above all, leave your agent alone to do his or her work.

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Discipline.

Sacrifice.

Not words I like, but they must form part of my writing life going forward.

Most writers write every day.  I don’t.  I can go for weeks without putting down any words, but during those times, I’m likely editing a manuscript.  I’m not sure how one can go from prolific to barely scratching out 2,500 words at the end of a week, but that describes me perfectly.

My novel writing career started at the end of 2004 and the last book I completed was just before NaNo 2009. Currently, I have seven completed projects, two of which have release dates for 2010.  The third is waiting to be picked up from an editing queue.

On the back-burner are three incomplete novels and one for which I’m gathering research material.  My most important work-in-progress (which has no business on the back-burner) is a stand-alone sequel for the novel being released next month. I had set myself a completion date of February 28, but as of today, I’m only halfway done.  Yeah, I have an emergency on my hands, since this has to be edited and sent to the publisher in a timely manner.  Being late with it is not an option.

Somewhere, I slacked off big time, and yet my days are busier than ever.  I now work longer hours, which means I’m putting in less creative time.  I’m trying to figure out exactly what I do when I sit behind the computer in the evenings after work.

My son’s computer is on the blink, so sometimes, when I get home, he’s in my seat playing 3D games, which are guaranteed to slow my pc to the consistency of molasses going uphill.  D’you understand why I need a laptop?

By the time I pry him out of my chair, rather than going straight to my most important tasks, I read mail and see what’s happening on the networking scene.  These activities are important, but since I do check in at some point during the day, they add up to redundancy.

There’s nothing like having a novel published to make you pay attention to how you use time.  It’s been an eye-opener for me.  My day—the parts of it that don’t belong to my employer— is now reduced to counting minutes.

Here are the chief ways I goof off and how I plan to fight back.

Chief Time Squanderers:-

~Facebook – Considering that the notifications are listed, I don’t need to check in more than twice per day. Anything more is addiction.  Yeah, I’m close to that point.

~Twitter – I check for updates maybe once per day. I should use this networking tool more, not that I can spare any more time.

~Tweetdeck – This is a great tool I discovered recently, which helps me waste time on Facebook and Twitter without leaving my desktop.  The updates are distracting, but yeah I could set this up so I pass through in one stopover to check what everybody else is doing.

~Thenextbigwriter.com – My chief writing hangout, where I don’t get to spend a lot of time anymore. Fact is, to get my work critiqued, I need to put in some reviews for other writers.  This is something else that eats up chunks of time, however, the feedback I get there is worth a lot to me.

Time Savers:-

~Facebook & Twitter are activities I use to procrastinate.  I check both networks and then decide to write, but before I do, I check the networks and my mail one more time.  Inevitably, I get sidetracked and before I know it, 11:00 p.m. is staring me in the eyes and I haven’t written one word.

I’m going to allow myself 20 minutes to socialize each night and that’s it.

~Here’s where a bit of sacrificial activity comes into play.  I now get up at 5:45 each morning to get my son ready for school. I figure if I get up at 5:00 a.m. I’ll pen a lot more words than I do now. I just have to remember not to check any mail at that time.

~To be able to think creatively at that hour of the morning means I’ll have to get some rest.  So, bedtime has to be earlier.  I’m looking at a cut-off point of 10:30.  This shouldn’t be a hardship, since I have no reason to be up until 11:00 p.m.

~I’m going to write during my lunch break, like I used to.  These days, I eat at the desk and catch up with the blogs I follow.

I’d like to think I can cut out NCIS and Law and Order, but that’s not gonna happen.  Good thing I’ve seen some episodes several times already, so I’m only staring at the television with my jaw hanging loose once in a while.

~I bought a diary on Saturday. It’s late in the year, I know, but each day I’ll list all I need to get done and ensure I do them.  This method will also keep me organized and ready to roll for the next round of book promotion.

~I do my reading and plotting en route to office and/or home, which saves some precious time.

Can you think of any other ways to nix timewasters?  I’d really like to hear them.

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For the past month, I’ve been busy with matters to do with my upcoming book release.

I completed the edits and then moved on to what I call the peripherals – editing the introductory chapter for the next book, which will be inserted at the back of this one, writing the acknowledgment, jotting the dedication, completing and sending off the synopsis for the follow-up novel.

The reality is now hitting me that writing a book is merely a first step.
The work only intensifies after that.

What amazes me is that I was so caught up in trying to find a publisher, that I never gave a thought to the actual marketing and promotion of the book. In a perfect life, I’d have had a contract with a major publishing house with an unrestricted budget to spend on my book. However, the reality is this book will be as successful as the amount of work I put into promotion.

So, yesterday I went and had the book markers done. I was going to do a one sided marker with the book covers for the novels to be published in April and October. However, when I got back to office, I got an email from the other publisher with whom I have a contract.

That book is still in the editing queue, so I thought it wise not to include that cover on the bookmark since I hadn’t heard from them. Since then, I’ve decided to go two sided on the markers. I’m going to shut my eyes real tight, spend more money and use a soft laminate so these souvenirs will have a longer lifespan.

Today, I’ve been busy checking out bookstores and the procedure to get them to sell my book. Again, I had some kind of pipe dream where this is concerned. For books written by overseas writers, I’m sure there is some kind of online catalogue where Jamaican book distributors make their selections.

Not so for local small-fry. I’ll have to send some of the stores a copy of the book for them to review and decide whether they want to stock it. After that, they take the books from me on consignment and they get a commission on the ones they sell.

We don’t have a lot of writers in Jamaica, so I’m hoping the book will do well simply from the ‘home-grown writer’ angle.

I’ve set myself a target of Friday February 13, to start sending out the press release. I’ve also done up an Excel worksheet with all the information I’ve collected from the bookstores. I now need to do the same for the media houses.

After that, I’ll look at magazines where I can place ads at reasonable prices, and on the net, I’ll be looking at banner ads.

Something else I’m coming to realize…there’s going to be a significant monetary outlay, so I’ll have to pace myself to do this again in October for Dissolution and once more for Hardware.

Am I still satisfied that I’m a writer who has leapt the publication hurdle?

You betcha.

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Hurry Up and Wait!

How to survive the publishing industry’s waiting game.

                There’s a lot of waiting involved when you’re a first time author.

After you write the book, you have to wait while friends and fellow authors read it for editing purposes. After it’s edited to death and back again, you have to send out queries to agents and then wait for responses. After you get an agent, you then have to sit back and wait as he/she sends off queries to publishers. Then, when an editor shows interest, you have to wait for them to actually read it and pass it along to their colleagues. And for people who read books for a living, they sure do take forever to read your stuff. Take it from me. I’ve been there before with several publishers. Then, after your book is accepted for publication, I’ve read that it can take anywhere from six to twelve months before it appears in print.

Anyway, I think I just found the trick to surviving all this waiting without going crazy with impatience and self doubt while I’m waiting two, three, or four months for them to read a 200 page book.

The trick?

Planning ahead. No matter what stage you’re at, start researching and planning for the next stage as if it’s definitely going to happen. If you’re waiting for someone to edit your book, start researching agents. If you’ve sent your queries and are waiting for responses, then start researching agent contracts and what questions to ask your prospective agent before you sign.

Personally, I’m waiting to hear back from publishers so I’m planning the next phase. I’m researching what happens when a book gets accepted for publication and how I do my part for marketing. I’m building a website, coming up with a marketing plan, and writing my next book. I’ve found that planning ahead for the next stage is helping me to stay positive.

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Thanks for stopping by at our blog. We wanted to lend voice to a collaboration of writers who are at different stages in their careers, from published down to those penning or editing their first novels. So wherever you’re at in your writing, here’s a place to stop and refuel, find information and get retrofitted with new ideas.

Be passionate. Be bold. Pick up a pen. Find your journey in ink.

Write us at inkiesrus@yahoo.com

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