Category Archives: Author Promotion

Portions of Today’s Programming Are Reproduced By Means of Electrical Transcriptions or Tape Recordings…

I had intended to take the week off from blogging. Well, that isn’t entirely true. I had something I wanted to write about and post, but all of yesterday got eaten up with accounting and then today got eaten up by all the stuff I wanted to do yesterday as well as a bunch of stuff I had never planned on doing. So around 4 pm when I was finally sitting down to lunch, I decided to let posting go for this week. But as always, something came up. Something always comes up. For months now I’ve been considering taking an extended break from blogging – perhaps a month or two – but I always put if off. Let me just do this one last post, and then I’ll stop for a while. I suppose we all tell ourselves those pretty white lies.

This is going to be a quickie, however. More of an inquiry than a statement, actually. You see, I’ve decided to launch a BlogTalkRadio show, towards the end of the month, after tax season. I’ve mentioned this to a couple of other authors with whom I happen to be engaged in interviews and it occurred to me that this would be a good time to start gathering info on parties who might be interested in appearing on the show.

I’m calling it “Short Subjects I Feel Like Talking About” and, like my blog, it will be a somewhat random assortment of issues I want to discuss as well as samples of my own work. In fact, I intend to begin the program with a series of readings, which I think will give me a low-pressure opportunity to become accustomed to being on the air. But eventually I’d like to start doing individual author interviews as well as panel shows on a variety of writing-related subjects.

Although the shows will be archived, my intention is to vary the times of the broadcasts in order to make it feasible for residents of other countries to participate. There’s no way to know, of course, how many people might listen in in any given week – if any – but I’m hopeful that it will give all of us a unique opportunity to reach out to readers and the writing community.

So here’s my question – who wants in? Who among you is bold or foolish enough to enter these untested waters and emerge, spluttering and shaken but hopefully not permanently damaged? Comment below, tweet me @LoriLSchafer or email me at lorilschafer(at)outlook(dot)com and let me know what you think. What kinds of programs would you like to hear? Would you be interested in appearing on one? Solo or in a group? What might you want to talk about?

I’m all ears!

Assembling a Book Trailer – Part I

As some of you saw, last week I posted my first book trailer for On Hearing of My Mother’s Death Six Years After It Happened (I’ve included it again at the end of this post if you missed it). After I posted it, I got a request from one of my followers to explain how I went about making it. Terrific idea, I thought – I’m totally stealing it!

Let me start off by saying that I did not want to do a typical book trailer. Most of the ones that I’ve seen I think are too long or too dull, spending image after image detailing plot points or posing questions the book purports to answer. At the other extreme, you also see Hollywood-style trailers, which are usually very well-done cinematically, but often make me want to see the movie rather than read the book!

The second most influential factor for me was the realization that trailers, like other forms of visual marketing, are very expensive to have made. It’s not the kind of thing a writer will generally want to do for him or herself because it simply isn’t in their realm of expertise. In my case, however, cash proved to be king. I wanted a trailer and I wanted one now – later on, I reasoned, if it seemed worth the expense, I could have one professionally done.

However, given that my knowledge in this area is severely limited, and my experience with digital media slight, I cast aside some of the early daydreams I had had of gorgeous cinematography, professional graphics, and a custom soundtrack to fit the action. Over-shooting my own skill level, I feared, would only result in an inferior product. I might mess up a sausage soufflé – and why attempt one when I know I can make a mean breakfast burrito? It would be better to make a trailer that was technically simpler, but hopefully equally as meaningful.

The second problem was this – I had no idea what the trailer was going to be about. I wanted a trailer that would evoke the mood of my story without attempting to tell it, which meant emphasizing feel over plotline. I also wanted it to be short, yet the moments from my book that I had considered utilizing required camera work that I just wasn’t sure I could effectively accomplish. I began ruminating over the idea of maybe including some images from my hometown – the problem being, of course, that I don’t have any. So I contacted those few high school friends with whom I’ve stayed loosely in touch and asked around to see if anyone had any pictures or videos that might be suitable for me.

My hopes in this quest were very, very low. First there was the issue of quality, because naturally pictures from twenty-some odd years ago were generally not in digital format. Secondly, unless the images were of me specifically – which, in my mind, was not necessarily a selling point! – I would be unable to use any that contained recognizable people because I wouldn’t have model releases for them.

My friend John Lin responded with a handful of photos from his graduation, which was the year before mine. Most of them were, as I suspected, unusable, as they were mostly of him and his family, and the quality, too, left much to be desired. And in any case, I still didn’t know what I would do with them. They weren’t even my pictures. This was not my graduation.

And that’s when it hit me – this was not my graduation.

I have almost no memories of my high school graduation. Most of what I remember about that day was the thrill of knowing that I would be free once it was over. My happiness over unexpectedly meeting my boyfriend after the ceremony, who had graduated a year ahead of me and whom I hadn’t expected to see again before I left for good. The tension of knowing that the car I had bought without my mother knowing was waiting for me on the street behind our house, waiting for me to pack up and leave. I don’t remember anything like what John no doubt remembers – receiving his diploma, being with his friends and family, throwing his cap in the air. Those things were utterly irrelevant to me. Same type of day, entirely different experience.

I flipped through his photos again, saddened somehow by what they had revealed. There was one in particular that showed students streaming down the lawn from our high school building down to the field with a TV crew filming. The photo was blurry – but how perfect for me, because you couldn’t make out any of the students’ faces. It was someone else’s high school graduation. But in another life, it might have been mine.

I went to freestockphotos.biz and began searching for photos. I wanted typical things, people and objects of which most kids would keep pictures. Their homes, their friends, their pets – maybe even their parents.

It took maybe two hours. Again, there was the issue of model releases, which prevented me from using some of the images I might have liked for me and my mother. And since I preferred free photos over paid ones, I had to dig a little deeper into my well of creativity, as I simply couldn’t find suitable photos for some of my initial ideas.

Once I had assembled the photos, the text was easy. And once I found a site that features royalty-free music, the soundtrack was easy, too. I won’t cover the technical aspects of assembling the project here, as this post is long enough already, but I am going to put together a video that will walk those of you who are interested through the whole process from start to finish. The technicalities of this type of sequence aren’t terribly difficult to master, although there are certainly some tricks that can make it easier.

But the big thing for me was coming up with the idea. Once I had the idea, the rest of it fell into place. So if you’re considering making your own trailer, my advice is to ask yourself these three questions:

1) What do you want to express in the trailer? A story, a mood, a character, a state of mind, an event?

2) What style do you want for your trailer? Will that style effectively convey whatever you said you wanted to achieve in your answer to Question 1?

3) Are you technically capable of achieving your vision for your trailer? Does it need to be flashy, or will simple suit you better? Will your fancy trailer look stupid if you can’t pull it off, or will your plain trailer be too dull even if you assemble it well?

One last important thing to consider is where you will be promoting your trailer. For me, my main outlets are WordPress and Twitter, both of which consist of audiences that are fairly forgiving. There’s a certain amount of leniency people are willing to grant if your ceramic ashtray is homemade – and for some that may even increase its charm. But if you’re looking to win competitions or be featured on fancy promotional websites, then you might want to consider making an investment in a professional product. Don’t, however, get stuck on the idea that many writers seem to, which is thinking that you can only have one trailer. For the amount of time and money they take to put together, you can make as many as you like, of whatever styles and lengths you like. You are limited only by the size of your own imagination.

Life Raft – Guest Post by Elena (Mrs. Bipolar)

My cell phone rings. It’s 2:30 a.m., but it hasn’t woken me. Sleep has abandoned me for weeks, to be replaced by worry and thoughts of rearranging my future. I do not need to look; I know that it’s him.

“Hello?”

“I need you.” Quietly and softly. A tone of voice I haven’t heard in months.

Instinctively I pick up my keys and go to the car. Thoughts begin to race through my mind as I drive. He left you. He says it’s over. After all his illness has put you through, why are you going to go to feed the mania? But something in his voice had the whisper of my husband. A faint hint of the reason why I fight so hard and forgive so easily.

As I pull up to the hotel and get out of the car, the cold snap of the wind slaps me in the face as if it’s trying to remind me why he’s here. He can’t live in our home anymore. The laughter and conversation has been replaced by anger, aggressiveness and arguments. The illness is winning. It wasn’t so much that he left me as that I let him go. I’m exhausted. So tired from the battle. A battle that seems to be so entrenched in him right now that no amount of medication can halt the forces.

I enter the room and he’s standing there, waiting for me. His eyes look at me with such longing. A longing that says come and find me, I’m still here. I see the man I married. He strips me of my clothes and takes away all of my insecurities as easily and naturally as a caterpillar sheds its cocoon. I step into the light, naked both emotionally and physically. I’m not the tall, tanned, slender girl I once was. The years and the illness have taken their toll.

He inhales as if catching his breath. “You’re beautiful.”

I’m not sure if he is reminding himself or reassuring me. I let him take over, and explore my body. His touch is slow and gentle, comforting in its familiarity. And yet at the same time, it is filled with a newness, a rediscovery. His hands and mouth cover me as if to memorize my body. My skin burns from his breath, his lips, his kiss. I press myself to him, urging him to move faster, but he’s lost in the pleasure of my excitement. Only after he feels my body shudder and go still does he climb on top of me. I feel the animal instinct that is driving him. He makes love to me with such passion and need that it spills forth in a crescendo that leaves us both gasping. We lay intertwined, in body and soul. Each of us holding tight to the other as if we were life rafts; as if we were saving one another from drowning .

Reality begins to sneak back in like smoke beneath the door of a burning building. My emotions take control. I can’t let him see me cry. I know that the illness will soon return and it will use any weakness I exhibit to wedge its way between us. I have to get out.

He asks me to stay, but I get dressed and leave. The door slams behind me, locking the moment behind it. The sun is rising. In a few hours we will be back at the hospital, seeing psychiatrists, therapists and doctors. I am overcome with the feeling that this is the beginning of the end. What end, I do not know.

* * *

Elena left her retail corporate job over a year ago and began a journey to mold the next chapter of her life by her own rules. She loves to keep a journal and write short stories so it was an easy transition for her to enter the world of blogging. Though it has been an ongoing learning curve, she has jumped in with both feet. Now on the precipice of 50, she has begun a blog to share her humor and bits of wisdom as a woman entering into the prime of her life. You can join her on her quest for serenity at www.livingwithbatman.wordpress.com.

On a personal note, Elena was a divorced, professionally educated woman raising two children alone when she met her second husband. After a whirlwind romance, they married and blended their families. Together they have four wonderful children, three dogs, two cats and one very busy, noisy house!

Elena’s current husband was diagnosed with Bipolar Type 1 very soon after they were married. To raise awareness for mental illnesses, she shares her personal experiences as the spouse of a bipolar person on her second blog, thebipolarmaniac.com, which she co-authors with another blogger living with bipolar, giving a twin perspective on the disorder. This blog has recently been nominated for Best In Show and Rookie of the Year in the Wego Health Activist Awards. Please visit and endorse her nomination here: https://awards.wegohealth.com/nominees/10251.

elenaspic

Help an Indie Author in Her Bid to Reach #1 in Amazon’s Kindle Store!

And no, it isn’t me. I’m afraid I’d need a truly massive amount of help to make that happen!

But Lilo Abernathy certainly has a shot. Her urban fantasy/paranormal romance/mystery The Light Who Shines (Bluebell Kildare Series Book 1) currently stands at about #6,800 in the Kindle Store – which as those of you who have released books on Amazon know, is pretty dang high. Well, Lilo’s book has performed so well in the ten months since its release that Amazon has selected it as a Kindle Daily Deal and will be offering at the reduced price of $1.99 this Thursday, November 20th, for one day only.

Now Lilo has it on good authority that it is possible for a Kindle Daily Deal to result in up to 3,000 downloads in a day – and that it may take as few as 3,500 copies sold in a day to reach that precious #1 spot. So she’s enlisting the aid of all of her author friends in a cooperative attempt to make that happen.

“Great!” I hear you thinking. “What can I do to help?”

Thanks for asking! The simple answer – share, share, share! Like me, Lilo is very active on Twitter (@Lilo_Abernathy) and also on Facebook (she’s created an events page here), so on Thursday, if you could share her tweets or her posts in the venue of your choice, that would be tremendously helpful. She will also be updating her Blogger blog with a post to share if you prefer to do that instead. And if you’re really feeling ambitious, you can start a couple of days ahead of time and recruit others to help out, too – hence this post! As Lilo is not on WordPress, feel free to re-blog my post if you like – whatever it takes to get the word out.

Not much of a social sharer? No problem! Click the image below to check out her book – for only $1.99, you might just want to buy it! ;)