Tag Archives: digital storytelling

Making a Statement Without Saying a Word: One Very Awesome Book Trailer By Jessica McCann

Novelist and nonfiction writer Jessica McCann

Jessica McCann has written for the magazine I edit at my day job. She’s interviewed me for an article on the college and university magazine market. I’ve interviewed her about writing fiction and nonfiction on this blog.

But the reason I’m posting today is to introduce you to the book trailer that Jessica developed for her novel, “All Kinds of Free.”  Book trailers are increasingly becoming an integral part of selling a book, whether it be fiction or nonfiction. The trailer for “All Different Kinds of Free” is an incredible demonstration of how to repurpose compelling material from print into a multimedia format and create a persuasive video to sell a historical novel.

Even more inspiring to me is the fact that Jessica made this trailer almost entirely by herself. In an interview on the Wolf and Redhood Media blog, Jessica revealed that she made the trailer herself, using Windows MovieMaker and photos and music from istockphoto.com.

Here’s what she had to say about how she crafted the trailer:

“The text for the trailer came from a variety of materials that had been written over the past couple of years – from my original pitch letter to my agent all the way down the line to the current back-cover copy. Writing and editing those types of materials helps you hone down to the key points in a small amount of space.

“For the trailer, I just whittled it down a bit more, while still hitting the highlights with fewer words. Then, once I had all the pieces in place in MovieMaker, it was a matter of tweaking the timing. I’d watch the trailer and take notes about which slides seemed to linger too long, which ones flashed by too quickly, if they seemed too copy heavy or took too long to read. I’d watch, then fine-tune, watch again, and fine-tune some more. Then I had a test audience (my husband and two teenage children!) watch and give me the same type of feedback, which led to still more fine-tuning.”

Writers of every genre can learn something by watching Jessica’s book trailer. And there is a bonus to going and watching the trailer on YouTube: If you leave a comment, you may win a copy of the book! The publisher will begin giving away one copy of the book to a random commenter when the page reaches 500 views and the book give-away will continue with one book given away for every 500 views until the trailer reaches 10,000 views or Dec. 31, 2011, whichever happens sooner. You can review all the details of this give-away on Jessica’s blog.

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Write This Way, Condensed: Top Writing and Editing Links for February 26, 2010

Photo courtesy of Patryk Buchcik via SXC.

Audience Development: Critical to Every Writer’s Future
From Writer Unboxed blog. An informative post on why fiction writers must concern themselves with developing and audience for their work. Lots of relevance for nonfiction writers, too.

Access of Mobile News Rises 500%
A brief tidbit from Editor & Publisher about new statistics that indicate a huge year-over-year increase in the number of people accessing news from their mobile device–almost 8 million people total. Local news and national headline stories are the most popular items.

Stop The Presses: Writing Careers are Difficult
An interesting short post about the publishing industry’s participation in the make-it-big-or-go-home mentality, and the writers who buy into this idea. From BREVITY’s Creative Nonfiction Blog.

Five Perspectives on Storytelling in Social Media
Kathy Hansen of A Storied Career blog provides a nice roundup of links related to how modern storytelling (of all sorts) is being impacted by social media.

Why the Blackberry Kindle App May Be More Important Than the Kindle 3
Kit Eaton writing in Fast Company’s Technomix column. The decision to create an app for BlackBerry devices may create a perfect storm for the e-reader.

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Write This Way, Condensed: Top Writing and Editing Links for February 19, 2010

Image courtesy Zsuzsanna Kilian via SXC.

How Alfred Hitchcock can make you a better storyteller

Awesome how-to post, complete with embedded film clips, from the very cool 10,000 Words blog.

10 Pathways to Inspired Writing | Copyblogger

Power blogger Matthew Cheuvront offers 10 somewhat surprising tips on how to perk up your blog posts. He makes such heretical suggestions as reading actual (paper) books and listening to entire music albums from beginning to end!

Writing skill is no longer enough to sustain journalists

Robert Niles writing on the Online Journalism Review. He argues that more people are writing and sharing information than ever before and that journalists will have to bring something extra to the table to get people to pay for what they write.

People Share News Online That Inspires Awe, Researchers Find

John Tierney writing for the New York Times about a University of Pennsylvania study that indicates that people prefer e-mailing articles with positive rather than negative themes, and they like to send long articles on intellectually challenging topics.

Did You Show Up For Your Job Today?

James Chartrand, posting on Fuel Your Writing, discusses an excellent talk by “Eat, Pray, Love” author Elizabeth Gilbert, who, Chartrand says, reinforces one very important point: “You are separate from your inspiration,” so it pays to show up and write even when you’re not feeling inspired.

5 Ways to Manage Distractions for Increased Productivity

Seth Simonds writing for FreelanceSwitch. A list of very sensible ways to handle common distractions in the multimedia, social media, hyper-connected world that is many freelancers’ lot.

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Write This Way: Top Writing and Editing Links for November 1, 2009

Photo courtesy SXC.

The fall madness known as National Novel Writing Month, known as NaNoWriMo to insiders, starts today. The goal for this annual exercise in fictional speed-writing is to finish a 50,000 word (175 page) novel by midnight on Nov. 30.

Although I’m not a fiction writer myself, I like the challenge aspect to the event for several reasons:
• It gives writer-participants a near-term goal for completing a major work.
• It forces them to write consistently—probably every day—for an extended period.
• The consistency and goal pressure may actually relieve some writers’ perfectionist tendencies. The goal is to finish the novel—not write a great one! Writing what Anne Lamott would call a “shitty first draft” is definitely encouraged.

In 2008, NaNoWriMo had over 120,000 participants, more than 20,000 of whom crossed the 50k finish line. One variation of this event that might be of interest to writers in a variety of genres is NaBloPoMo, National Blog Posting Month. The contest (and its website) is more of a social network for daily bloggers, or those looking to improve their blog through marathon posting, and the challenge can be started at the beginning of any calendar month.

The Reconstruction of American Journalism
This link takes you to a watershed report by two esteemed professors at the Columbia University School of Journalism discussing the monumental changes in print journalism these days and proposes action steps to support and maintain quality public affairs reporting.
I haven’t read the PDF version of the report yet, or a shorter synopsis article written by the report’s authors that is posted on Columbia’s popular journal on the state of media, the Columbia Journalism Review. However, I do plan to read these documents, as well as the robust section of responses to the report that’s also on CJR’s website, and post my own take here at Write Livelihood.

For now, here’s beginning of the CJR synopsis version of the report, which lays out the stakes of the questions being asked and offers a hint as to the direction that the authors’ answers will go…

“Newspapers and television news are not going to vanish in the foreseeable future, despite frequent predictions of their imminent extinction. But they will play diminished roles in an emerging and still rapidly changing world of digital journalism, in which the means of news reporting are being re-invented, the character of news is being reconstructed, and reporting is being distributed across a greater number and variety of news organizations, new and old.

The questions that this transformation raises are simple enough: What is going to take the place of what is being lost, and can the new array of news media report on our nation and our communities as well as—or better than—journalism has until now? More importantly—and the issue central to this report—what should be done to shape this new landscape, to help assure that the essential elements of independent, original, and credible news reporting are preserved? We believe that choices made now and in the near future will not only have far-reaching effects but, if the choices are sound, significantly beneficial ones.”

Which Type of Digital Journalist Are You?
After you’ve taken time to read the Columbia University report on the future of journalism, you’ll want to read this post from Michelle V. Rafter’s WordCount blog.
Rafter links to a survey conducted by Northwestern University that explores the current online and social media habits of 3,800 journalists working in 79 newsrooms. (You can download the PDF of the report’s findings.)

The report places journalists who participated in the survey into one of six categories, based upon their desire for digital change …

Digitals: Spend the majority of their time online, perhaps have never worked for a print-only operation, feel comfortable at events hosted by the Online News Association.
Major shifters: Spend a lot of time online outside of work, wonder why they’re not being asked to spend more time exploring online potential for their content when they are at work.
Status Quos: Comfortable with the modest amount of time (average: 30 percent) that they spend producing online content.
Turn Back the Clocks: Only 6 percent of survey respondents fit this category. These folks hope the Internet somehow implodes and print will once again rule.
Moderately Mores: Wouldn’t mind dividing their work time evenly between print and digital content production.
Leaders: According to Rafter, this group is comprised of high-level publishers and editors who typically spend more time focused on print but would like to shift more of their attention to online operations.
Obviously, between the Columbia report and this one, there’s a lot of introspection being done on what journalism means in a blogging, socially networked world, and what it will take for today’s journalists (especially the veterans) to function successfully in a transformed industry landscape. (And if you’re wondering where I fit in the six groups mentioned above, I’d say somewhere between a Moderately More and a Major Shifter, with my tilt being toward a Major Shifter mindset.)

Bonus Links!!

Keeping a project alive
David Hewson, author of the popular Nic Costa novel series, has provided a great set of tips for keeping your writing projects on track, even when you’re not at the keyboard working on them.

People Watching for Character Development
From Shelby Rachel, guest blogging on the If You Give A Girl A Pen blog. Great thoughts on how to use observation in your fiction development.

Viral Loop Chronicles Part 1: Forget Everything You’ve Heard About Book Publishing
From the The Penenberg Post on Fast Company.com. The first in a series about how to get a book published in the social media age.

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