Musings

Weekly Musing: In A World…Of Sequels…

 

Comes another one whether you asked for it or not. Back in February I waxed on about book trailers and my thoughts on them. My initial post contained a section of which trailers I watched that either worked for me or didn’t. Ultimately I cut it realizing it made more sense as a standalone post. Thus you are now being subjected to the sequel however, unlike most sequels this won’t be a retread of the first post.

Book Trailers I Liked

I’m grouping together the three trailers for a YA series by Katie Alender as each of the trailers for Bad Girls Don’t Die, From Bad to Cursed, and As Dead As It Gets had numerous great qualities.

Each trailer was well-produced and well-acted and each gives the potential reader a glimpse into the kind of people the main characters are. All three clearly define for the reader what the setting is. The music used was appropriate for each character and worked in conjunction to establish a tone that feels appropriate for each of the books. All of these components worked to pique my curiosity as well as raise plenty of questions I normally have as a reader when inspecting a book to see if I want to pick it up or not. The fact each trailer elicited the same response I get reading the back of a book cover tells me these were great book trailers. More so because these are in a genre I almost never read yet I feel very inclined to pick up the first book.

Blood’s a Rover by James Ellroy

Like most of the book trailers I watched, this one is constructed like a movie trailer. This is both a good and bad thing in my opinion, but that’s not the point of this post. What I enjoyed about this trailer is besides the fact it is walking that fine line between historical fiction and contemporary, it gives the potential reader a great idea of the setting as well as a glimpse into the characters. Like the trailers for Ms. Alender’s books, this one uses both visual and auditory elements to capture the tone and setting of the book. And while the production values are a little bit on the cheesy side, it still gets me interested in the book enough to want to pick it up.

Book Trailers That Were Meh

These were ones I found not to be necessarily bad or good or pretentious, but were just sorta…there.

The Selection series by Kiera Cass including trailers for The Selection, The One, The Heir, and The Crown. Oddly enough the second book, The Elite, doesn’t have one other than a fan made video done with Barbie dolls.

What left me feeling indifferent about these is how repetitive they all were. The music is similar in each as are most of the shots. It’s all glitz and glam with only The Heir differing from the others. If it wasn’t for the character voiceover as a potential reader I would have no idea what these books are about. Strip that away and all you have are a group of young adults in deluxe prom gowns/wedding dresses looking at stuff. Whereas the trailers I enjoyed left me with the kind of questions which would prompt me to pick up the book, these left me with the kind of questions which make me NOT want to pick up the book.

Sherrilyn Kenyon‘s YouTube channel which features several book trailers.

Like the trailers for Ms. Cass’ books these were all pretty much the same. None of them what the books are about or give me much about what kind of people the characters are beyond type of creature. Who are these people really? At least it is clearly made clear what genre the books are as the trailers all invoke a dark fantasy/supernatural/paranormal vibe. The cheesy special effects and actors giving their best fierce look into the camera aren’t as effective to me. Also the music comes close to overshadowing the visuals.

 The Miriam Black series by Chuck Wendig

At first the raspy voiceover and words from the actual book was something different from what I’d seen so far. However, the device quickly bored me. If I wanted to read the first chapter from a book to see if I like it, I can. The voice also grated on me and if I were to pick up the book (the concept does sound like something I’d read), I can’t help but think that guy’s voice will be permanently tattooed in the auditory part of my brain. What also didn’t work for me was the inventive ways in which the text was placed onto the screen. Call me weird but I kinda needed punctuation once in a while.

Pretentious Book Trailers

The Flame Alphabet by Ben Marcus

Let me say I appreciate it was unique something you’ll notice each of the book trailers in this section share. Now for what bugged me. At first I thought this was a graphic novel since it’s animated. It wasn’t until I did some research I discovered no, this is indeed a novel. This makes the trailer even more confusing. The fact it’s not clear whether The Flame Alphabet is a graphic novel or a standard novel could change a potential reader’s mind. Another flaw is it is not until the end of the trailer do we find out what the book is about. And it’s just plain freaky and not in the kind of way which I might be drawn to.

Theory of Remainders by Scott Dominic Carpenter

My initial reaction was “What the hell is this book about?” After watching it a couple more times, I still don’t know. If the point of a book trailer is to tease the audience into at least considering your book, then I sorta need to know what the book is about. Crazy, I know. Yet all we are given is some agonized middle age guy in a tiny room while operatic music plays. Maybe he looks pained because of the music. Who knows and who cares. Just screams pretentious.

The Women by T.C. Boyle

This is gorgeously shot and I am a little interested in this book because it looks like it’s historical fiction. Why I feel this fits the pretentious category is the numerous close-ups of the actors’. The music selected is annoying and doesn’t fit the time period. I feel like whoever created the trailer was trying to convey just how serious the book is. Instead I get the impression the book maybe overwrought. At least I have a clearer idea what The Women is about.

Straight Up Bad Book Trailers

Preoccupation by Jave Kavfi

I feel odd putting this on my list because the author herself posted how bad this was. In her defense she admitted making it herself and had numerous technical issues while creating it. I admire her for doing it herself and as bad and weird as it is, it’s still better than what I could ever hope to put together.

What makes it bad are the weird effects on still pictures and close-ups of crazy looking eyes. It also doesn’t really tell me what the book is about. Is it some kind of trippy historical fiction romp because of all the old timey photos? Is about time travel? But while I have these questions, I was turned off by the trailer and don’t want to look up the book.

City of Glass by Cassandra Clare

This one surprised me by how bad and amateurish this trailer is considering it’s for the third book in a popular YA series. While the trailer came out in 2009, its production values scream 1990s. The production values are so bad it makes me think I could make a better one. All it consists of are still photos while overly dramatic music plays. It doesn’t tell me what the book is about. Doesn’t matter it’s the third in a series, at least give a hint so a reader might want to pick up the other books. It feels as if it was produced more to elicit hype more than anything which is why it includes more than one recommendation from Stephanie Meyer.

Rules of Attraction by Simone Elkeles

Oh, boy. Someone spent money, but apparently not on the actors. Not only does this feature questionable acting from everyone and the vibe of an afterschool special from back in the day, it honestly left me despising the book. If what is in the trailer is the actual plot of the book I can’t. Simply cannot. While we get glimpses into the characters, everyone comes across as stereotypes with nothing to tell me there may be something different.

 

Like the quality of books, the quality of book trailers is all over the place. Production values and good acting alone aren’t enough to ensure one has a solid book trailer. What it all comes down to for me as a reader is “Do I want to at least consider picking up this book?” If you leave things too vague or too confusing, you’ve lost a reader. If you care more about hyping the book then actually informing the reader of what’s in store for them, you’ve lost a reader. If everything looks and sounds the same, you’ve lost a reader. Keep it simple. Give us enough to hook us but wanting more.

Musings

Weekly Musing: Useful Bloggery

Partially inspired by Writers’ Digest’s annual 101 Best Websites and to celebrate my blog’s 3rd anniversary, I thought I’d briefly talk about a few of the blogs I personally enjoy. When I first took writing seriously, I followed several blog in an attempt to absorb any and all information I could get my hands on. After a while my inbox became overrun with notifications of the latest blog postings and when I didn’t get to them right away, I got behind. Soon it became too overwhelming so I pared down what I subscribed to only those blogs I actually read. There truly can be too much of a good thing.

Below is a list I’ve narrowed down to my top three blogs I enjoy and find to be the most useful.

Anne R. Allen – I’ve probably been following this blog the longest having first heard about it via Writer’s Digest. This blog is almost always on that list and for good reason. With authors Anne R. Allen and Ruth Harris at the helm, this site posts once a week a topic relevant to the publishing industry. While they and their guest bloggers are all seasoned, professional writers, I find many of their posts offer great advice for of all levels. What I like best is they don’t offer the typical advice given to writers, but rather more realistic advice. Not only do they offer advice on the craft but also touch upon all areas of writing and publishing. They keep up with the fact that the industry as a whole is always changing so they strive not to offer advice which may have been valid years ago before the rise of digital books.

What I really respond to the most with this blog is not only the humorous and down-to-earth writing style, but also how honest they are. It’s a perfect balance between encouragement and realism. Often Anne R. Allen’s blog has inspired blog posts of my own because I find them that thought-provoking especially on topics I thought I was in the minority in believing.

Chuck Wendig – This one is a recent discovery as I stumbled upon via a friend sharing one of his posts on Facebook. I’m glad I found it as Wendig’s blog is funny (the humor being NSFW which admittedly is up my alley) and honest. In the short amount of time I’ve been following Wendig’s blog, I’ve learned quite a bit as he has spoken upon a variety of topics ranging from conventions to publishing to life in general. He even posts writing challenges each week by incorporating a love of photography using his own photos to help inspire a flash fiction story.

Usually posting 2 to 3 a week, he somehow manages to stay consistent with the humor. Hell, even his guest bloggers are pretty adept at matching the tone and style while still sounding like their own person. Like the other blogs I follow, he brings realism and honesty to what he talks about and is the first person to admit that what his experiences aren’t the only way to go about being successful in publishing. His, like others, are just one example of one path to success.

Jami Gold – Another recent discovery, I quickly became a fan of hers because not only is she down-to-earth, she readily admits she’s a perfectionist. Recently this became a major problem as she talked about writers must take care of themselves. From her own experiences she tells her audience that she was running herself so ragged some serious health issues arose. But she kept pushing those aside due to numerous deadlines and to keep up with the expectations modern writers are told they must do in order to be successful. Eventually this caught up with her as she could no longer put off seeing the doctor as her vision became impaired.

But beyond her tales of running her body on empty for too long, I like she admits she’s a perfectionist. Being a perfectionist is a really bad thing if you are a writer. Nothing you write will ever be good enough, no matter who tells you otherwise. It’s nice reading about a fellow perfectionist writer to see how she handles it. Also, while her recent health matters may seem extreme, it nevertheless serves as a cautionary tale about listening to every single piece of advice on how to become a “successful” writer.

 

In addition to the above mentioned blogs, I also enjoy Unusual Historicals (great for those who appreciate the underappreciated people and places of history), Writer Beware (which is more of a website, in my opinion, rather than a blog), Romance University (great advice for a writer of any genre), English Historical Fiction Authors (good source for inspiration), and Writers in the Storm (another great place for general advice).

With so much information out there it’s important to me to find those blogs which won’t waste my time. It’s also important to me to find the kind of information which will be helpful to me not only in this still early stage in my career, but as I continue to grow. And I hope that my little corner of the internet has mirrored my own growth as a writer over the past few years.