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Making a video about your book

September 21st, 2010

Charles King and publisher W. W. Norton created a wonderful video that brings us into the world of his new book.  Here is what he writes about it:


I had never heard of a “book trailer” until a few months ago, when my agent mentioned I should think about doing one for ODESSA. I went on YouTube and looked up some examples. Most of what I found were videos from the young adult fiction world– lots of unrequited vampire love. But I found a few really great videos by serious writers and historians–Dan Philbrick and Simon Montefiore, for example, not to mention a hilarious one by Gary Shteyngart–and I thought I could probably manage to do something similar.

It was pretty easy. I had all the images from the book already in hand. I put those into a PowerPoint and roughed out the sequencing and timing. (PowerPoint allows you to add a “Ken Burns” effect, so that you can pan and scan across still images–a great way of bringing photos to life.) I wrote a script and selected some music from the public domain and from a very nice klezmer band that allowed me to use one of their recordings. Finally, I got some great help from CNDLS at Georgetown (thanks to Daryl Nardick, Danny Gonzalez, and Ryan Walter) in reworking my rough-cut PowerPoint as a .mov file that could be uploaded to YouTube.

I wanted this to be informative and engaging, but I also wanted it to be about the book rather than about the author — to represent, in an accessible way, the fruits of serious archival research, which is the basis for the new book. It was also part of a “professionalization” of my web presence…I’ve now got the video on my new website at www.charles-king.net.

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GUEST BLOGGER: What Google Books Can Mean For You

February 27th, 2010

Lewis Levenberg, a graduate student in Georgetown’s Communication, Culture and Technology program, works with Booklab from time time, giving us fresh ideas for using the internet and various social media to promote authors and books.  I invited him to guest-post some of his thoughts about digital books online:

What Google Books Can Mean For You

A lot of confusion and controversy surrounds the ongoing saga of the Author’s Guild and Association of American Publishers‘  legal action against Google. Since 2005, these two book-world powers have been locked in protracted argument with the search giant’s books division over copyright and payment issues. This complex, long-term negotiation seems to be drawing to a close, with Google honing in on the rights to expand what they hope will become the largest-ever “digital library.” However, the fact that this vast database of scanned texts is well on its way to becoming the primary reading and retail source for books on the web does NOT mean that authors are left high and dry, only to watch as their work becomes available to view (at least in part) online.

Read more…

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Have you heard of Filedby?

January 29th, 2010

FiledBy_Logo-RPublishers often encourage authors to have a web presence, which is smart in theory.   In practice, however, it can lead to sites that are either overly slick (making an academic author’s scholarly output seem like a series of breathless beach reads), or amateurish, such as the awful one the son of a well-selling friend of mine set up.  None of us had the nerve to tell her the truth… until she discovered blogging and moved to a template (relief).

Enter Filedby, an interesting hybrid between author information you’d find on Amazon, editable content you’d find on Wikipedia, and a personal author site.  It is all of these and more than them… it can exist independently of the author, quietly gathering web data and displaying it, or the author can decide to play a more active role, and have more control.  The technical term is “social cataloging website,” a phrase that brings in its various elements.

To get a sense of how Filedby works, have a look at the site for Georgetown’s Provost, James J. O’Donnell.  He will soon be a Filedby featured author.