Thursday, August 02, 2012

Two More Tools You Can Use

Pinterest and Everything: A pair of my customers, Nancy Diehl and Kathi Kemper (authors of Art-Based Curriculum) turned me on to Pinterest. Okay, I'm still a little short of turned on, but I'm looking at it with, uh, interest. Some publishing consultants and a ton of small-business consultants are saying, "You gotta be there." Pinterest is another one of those social-networking sites that seem to spring up overnight. This one allows you to "pin" items into various self-determined groups (categories) that entangle with other folks pins and groups and supposedly do you good. I have barely stuck my toe in the water, and I'm still trying to figure out how to keep my business interests separate from my personal interests, which would seem to muddy the waters. On that score, I found this post by Social Media blogger Betsy Kent, who seems to enjoy the game and have it figured out. Still, the whole concept seems a little chaotic, like the rush of consumers into Walmart on Black Friday. Still, it pays to pay attention.

My second find came about because I was working on a project with hundreds of images and no file or folder naming conventions. Much of my time was spent on searching for the customer's photos. And then the search mechanism on my Windows Explorer broke. Great. I went online looking for clues on how to fix it. When I got nowhere with that, I looked for an alternative. I found a free program called Everything. Well, that about covers it. I don't expect much from freeware, but Everything is a beauty. It's fast. Really fast. Like instant. It makes Microsoft's search look like a dinosaur. It's a little cumbersome to adjust your search parameters, but I'm finding little need to do that. I downloaded mine at CNet. Saved my bacon. The Publishing Pro.

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Book Trailers: Are They Worth It?

Maybe if they're free: Book trailers—similar to movie trailers—have become de rigueur in some quarters, mainly in the quarters of those in the business of making them. The argument is that you need this medium in an age where attention spans are getting shorter. I buy part of the argument. Attention spans are getting shorter. I'm a reader, and I can't watch a book trailer for more than a minute. I can hardly wait out the fifteen second ad that precedes the minute-long video I might be willing to look at. As it turns out, many experts suggest a minute as the upper limit for a book trailer. Some even suggest thirty seconds, but I'm seeing many trailers that are two or three minutes. You must be kidding. If a book trailer is that tiresome, think about the book. The trouble with trailers—and why do they call them "trailers" if they precede the movie or book—is that they take time and they crawl. If I'm looking for information, plain words—I can read 700 words a minute—are better. If you let me hyperlink, I can absorb an encyclopedia by the time the average trailer is done.

On the other hand, book trailers are a thing. If you google "book trailers," you'll get a list of websites where you can post your book trailer. Many of the websites— is an exception—seem to be devoted exclusively to book trailers. I'm not sure how this works. I have trouble imagining that people go to websites expecting to browse book trailers. I can imagine having a book trailer on my website or sending people a link to the trailer and inviting people to view it. 

In any case, I'm not at a point where I'll pay someone to create a book trailer for me. On the other hand, it appears to be relatively easy to create one myself using free tools like Microsoft Movie Maker combined with Apache OpenOffice Presentation (a free competitor to Microsoft Powerpoint). Such a book trailer would be simple: a combination of text, images, and music. A good writer should be able to put together a decent trailer. I can see that once I get past the learning curve, I'll  spend most of my time searching for images and music, especially ones I can use at little or no cost. I figure: If I can make my book trailer for nothing, it could be worth every cent I put into it. I'll give it a try.—The Publishing Pro, LLC