Sunday, December 23, 2012

My Guest: C. N. James


My Guest this week is writer C. N. James. When C.N. isn't to be found crouching behind oversized coffee mugs, teaching Writing at College or plucking guitar strings, he can be found producing sterling Sci-Fi. Today he brings us a fresh look at the current state of the publishing world:


C.N. James

Are Independent Authors the New Publishing Paradigm?

In music and movies, it’s always hipper to be indie. It means you have met success without a corporate blessing. It’s the spirit of individualism made manifest. Being indie allows us the freedom to explore, to push boundaries, to not have to worry about whether or not we are addressing a wide enough, all-encompassing audience.  Being indie means that in order to succeed you have to be original, innovative, cutting edge, and at times, controversial.

And finally, that same reputation is moving into the world of publishing. Sadly, this new reputation is still too new to cause massive sales, but indie books are finally gaining respect. With people like Amanda Hocking, Amy Joy, Blake Northcott, and E. L. James seeing respectable sales figures, the old-school publishing industry is taking notice. The independent and self-publishing worlds are now seen as a proving ground, not competition.  We are the minor leagues of publishing; some of us will be called up to majors, but not all. But the question is: do we want to?

The publishing companies do next to nothing to market your book; it’s still up to you. The books stores only have so much shelf space, so if you aren’t an immediate success, it doesn’t matter how awesome your book is, its shelf-life is about as long as fresh fruit. And let’s not forget how long it takes for them to release your work. You may be waiting years to see your book finally hit the shelves and an even longer time before you see any money from it.

Despite this, do we still need that validation, that corporate blessing? I think that it really depends on your goals. Everyone wants validation or appreciation for what they do. No one wants to be seen as unimportant.  Because of this, I’d imagine most indie authors would jump at the chance to sign a contract with a major publishing company. And yet, you really have to ask yourself: is it really in your best interest? If you are already a best-seller, how much more validation do you need?

What if indie became the new publishing paradigm? After all, it allows us to find our audience, publish when the book is ready, and make it available to anyone with internet access. Along with that, the indie reputation is going to continue to improve. Unfortunately, there will always be, as one author put it: “karaoke of literature,” but time will help filter out those who don’t live up to the indie label. Those that get frustrated will give up, leaving the most dedicated, the most creative, the most passionate left to push the publishing industry into a new golden age.





Bio:

CN James is the co-founder of The Indie Writer’s Network and author of the thriller 'Bone Machine', a second round finalist for the 2012 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award, and several short stories including The Dark Room, which won honorable mention in the 78th Annual Writer’s Digest Writing Competition for genre short story. 

He holds a Master’s Degree in English Education and a Bachelor’s Degree in Music (Jazz Guitar) and is currently at work on his second novel, The Armageddon Factor and a guitar method book, both of which will be available in early 2013.


Saturday, December 22, 2012

The story behind 'the CULL' book trailer


Finally it's here!

Although the novel has been out in the wild for a couple of weeks now, as every writer knows, there's a huge list of ‘other stuff’ that suddenly acquires PRIORITY status as soon as the last words of the tale are written.

One of these is the promotional video book trailer.

I had decided to go about this in a far more professional manner this time. I searched high and low looking for someone who would generate a great, no, outstanding trailer for this novel. Surprisingly, despite visiting hundreds of trailer-producer webs, I wasn’t getting anywhere. When you come away from viewing trailers with the feeling you could have done better yourself, that’s not a good sign. Then there were to Over-The-Top efforts that looked more like Hollywood s/fx extravaganzas than promo trailers.

I knew what I wanted…

The professional feel of the Hollywood Blockbuster without the message being lost in the special effects. Remember, the objective of a good trailer is to help sell books, not drive you to the movies.

I don’t believe in coincidences!

Never have.

What unseen power may be at work behind the scenes, helping us resolve our problems at critical moments, I honestly do not know.

What I do know is that if we spent more time being aware of our surroundings, then answers abound. They are there – if you just take the time to listen and observe.

The production of the trailer was no exception.

I received an unexpected phone call from a friend I’d not seen in a few years. He used to be in upper management at a Casino and we became friends when he asked me to provide some personal defence training for himself and a select group of his colleagues as a contingency measure. He knew I take a very pragmatic approach to what I teach and was so astounded at the results, he asked me to train him in more advanced stuff (such as the use of everyday objects – ice cube, newspaper, car seatbelts and a long etc, you know, the usual stuff – as defensive weapons when shove came to push!). His job then took him away from the area and our contact was limited to occasional phone calls and even more sporadic meetings for coffee.

The call was for one of the latter – yes, girls, you aren’t the only ones who meet to catch up with your friends – SPOILER AHEAD  - we Rambo types do it as well; except, if we tell you about about it, we have to kill you!

We chatted for a while: him about his projects using Intelligence analysis techniques applied to tourism; me about the latest novel (these things are all consuming, as any writer will tell you). I helped him with a few pointers from bygone days, and he in turn put me in touch with doopfilms.

My first encounter was charged with enthusiasm. Although the people at doopfilms.com are only just starting with Book Trailers, they have a twenty-year plus backstory with professional video and film productions. Their determination to set a standard in book trailer production was evidenced, first, by the fact they had created a separate company dedicated to this (doopfilms.com) and then by the boundless passion I heard from the CEO about their future plans and interest in producing a trailer for ‘the CULL’. As an example of their ‘can-do’ attitude, they asked me for a couple of copies of the paperback to use in the video, but Amazon hadn’t come through yet; they’re still in the (Christmas) post somewhere. No problem, they said, we’ll make one!

Please don't laugh - I'm a writer not a graphic designer!
They will handle requests in all sorts of formats. In my case, as I am a non-starter as a graphic designer, I told them, during a long phone call, what I was thinking regarding the concept of the trailer for this novel. That weekend I dug out, and dusted off, my state-of-the-art graphic design program (Photodraw 2000) and whipped up a (sort of) storyboard. I sent this to them and heard by return mail that they had already been filming stuff to try out the ideas I had told them earlier – what sounds good verbally, may not be as visual as you need. They emailed me some scenes and I was hooked!

A couple of days later, a text message – we have finished the filming! Next day, I receive a link and a password to check out the ‘draft’ trailer on Vimeo. I thought it was perfect – they still wanted to do more work.

They had my book even before I did!
Next morning, a new version – their attention to detail is amazing – they had modified, retouched, re-synced a load of things I hadn’t even spotted in the ‘draft’. The resultant file was large – over 60 Mb – but thanks to the Cloud, I soon had it sitting on my computer. From there it went to YouTube and my blog, as well as a few other select destinations.

They tell me they had so much fun doing this (must have been all that fake blood – at least I hope it was fake – they didn’t emulate one of my vampires from ‘the CULL’, did they?) they are in the process of producing a ‘Making of’ video to place on their web when it goes public in a few days.

Incidentally, now everyone can SEE why I insist in writing 'the CULL' as I do... it's a primitive syringe!

My conclusion and a recommendation: if you are a writer who only wants the best for your promo materials, send them an e-mail (hello@doopfilms.com) and tell them what you are thinking.

Coordinating the soundtrack with the blood drops
I will be using them again, in fact, we have already spoken about my next project, ‘Leaving Shadows’, to give them time to figure out how to recreate lightning visually in the studio.

The photos in this post are screenshots from their ‘Making of’ which they have kindly supplied. Looking forward to seeing the whole video shortly.

I'm really please with having added doopfilms to my support professionals. With others, such as SiteGround.com whose superb service has given me 100% uptime for my web this year, they take away a major portion of the ancilliary worries, leaving me to get on with what I like to do best: write thriller novels.

Season's Greetings to you all.

May the New Year bring you all you wish for!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

The NEW book trailer video for 'the CULL'

video

This is the awesome book trailer that www.doopfilms.com have produced for my latest novel.

Check it out!

In my next post, I'll tell you how this video came to be and the fantastic experience I had working with these professionals of the digital arts.

Season's Greetings to all,

Eric @ www.ericjgates.com