Are Book Trailers the Next Big Thing?

When people think of books, rarely do the words “visually compelling” cross their minds. Writing is certainly visual in its own imaginative sort of way, but besides the act of reading itself, viewing the images described in a novel are usually put off until the book is translated onto the big screen.

Lately, however, advertisers have found a way to put books on the little screen: book trailers. Now, I definitely claim to be one of those people who quite enjoys watching movie trailers – after all, they’re supposed to get you pumped up for the actual film. But I’ve never really thought of making a little preview like that for a book. After watching some of the following trailers, I’m absolutely sold on this concept.

Here are a few of my favorites that I found while exploring the trailer-sphere:

“Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children”


This trailer was clearly not made by an amateur, and the effect (though starting off a little Princess Bride-like) was the same as any movie trailer – it made me want to know more.

“The Night Circus”


This one wasn’t as comparable to a film trailer, but the elements it did have (soundtrack, some background visual interest) allowed it some extra bonus points. This type of trailer is more akin to something anyone could make (self-publishers, hm?) because of its relatively low technical complexities. The words forced the viewer to pay a bit more attention to reading, which I don’t think entirely kills the watching experience, simply because the viewers are probably avid readers in the first place.

“City of Lost Souls”


Wow, okay. That might as well have been a movie trailer. Clearly this one was done by professionals (and considering it was uploaded by Simon & Schuster, it was probably one of theirs) and is a very well-made book trailer for an already popular book series. But the question remains – did watching this make you want to read the book?

“The Great Gatsby”


Alright, I was just seeing if you were paying attention. This trailer is actually a real movie preview for the latest adaptation of The Great Gatsby. I am a fan of Baz Luhrmann’s, so I’ll be interested to see what he does with this excellent novel.

What do you think? Were the book trailers at all similar to the film trailer? Whether they are as good as movie trailers is arguable, but I think making them in the first place is an excellent advertising tactic and I hope to see more of these produced in the near future.

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Why Inspiration is Holding You Back

greek god

Feel inspired yet?

It’s happened again. I can’t think of a single thing to write.

Even now, when I’ve somehow formulated a kind of lesson to be learned from all this nothingness, I question whether or not this makeshift thought is even a good idea for a post.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve got a whole mess of topics jotted down on random napkins. I’ve even collected them together and made a nice digital list of them all. When the Inspiration God whispers in my ear, I listen.

He must be running a little late today, that’s all.

All deities aside, I really do have lots of ideas for posts written down. The problem is I don’t feel like writing about any of them today. I’m just not feelin’ ‘em. And I have to wonder (because this seems to happen a lot), why do I have such a hard time getting inspired?

Well, the answer is: that’s not the right question. This isn’t a matter of lack of inspiration, but in fact a matter of not accepting what inspiration I get. So I suppose I lied a little bit earlier when I said I listened every time the Creative Powers That Be give me a suggestion, because I don’t.

And I think this problem arises out of everyone else claiming all the good ideas first. Take last night’s Oscars* for instance. Half of the major winning films were adapted screenplays (they even get their own award), which means that those movies were already based on other people’s ideas. Recent years have shown a rise in the remake, which hints at the possibility that all the original ideas have been used up.

What if this is what’s been holding me and countless others back for so long? No one is willing to make a move for fear of being compared to a previous success. This hesitation doesn’t just plague writers either. Anyone who is attempting to put their thoughts out there fears a backlash of “it’s been done before.”

Has someone already written a book like this? Doesn’t my painting look a bit like Starry, Starry Night? What if someone already discovered this new breed of genetically dominant hippo? Will I just end up looking like a copy-cat?

These are all rational questions, but I can’t help but think that we should be less zeroed-in on “has it been done before?” and more focused on “is it the right time for reminding?” **

I’m starting to believe that ideas aren’t really original in the first place, just recycled into society and then repurposed into exactly what we need them to be. Those ideas are the best ones. Don’t crumple up your thoughts if they don’t seem creative enough.  We have thoughts for a reason – maybe it’s the perfect time to share them.

Idea

One idea…

*Yes, I had to get my little Oscars nod in there too. I really enjoy movies and I think it’s horrible that so many people are negatively focusing on “rich people giving other rich people awards.” Do writers not give other writers awards too? Sure, our ceremonies may not be nearly as elaborate, but the film industry is much higher grossing and can afford the frills. Film is art too. This concludes my Oscar rant for the day.

**This even applies to the hippo. There should be more publicity about hippos.

(This post is in the Think section because I talk about fear holding us back. I apologize if it seems more Write-ish.)

Your Writing, Your Social Life, and You

Let’s be honest here. Nobody understands us writers better than each other.

So I want to talk to my fellow writers out there about something that most people just don’t seem to get about us.

It is very difficult for writers to have a social life.

And trust me, I know there’s going to be at least one exception to this rule. There are probably a few writers out there who have mastered the art of balancing life and are actually able to make appearances at regular social functions, but most of us have not.

Maybe this issue becomes easier over time (please let me know in the comments if you have any insight), but as of right now, I see no light to the end of this busy tunnel.

Honestly, nothing would make me happier than just focusing all my time on my writing. Taking a day, having a cup of tea, sitting at a bookstore or somewhere productive to just relax and write…that sounds like a great day.

But that doesn’t happen in normal life. Normal life is full of dentist appointments, actual money-making part-time jobs, and social obligations. Yes, eventually our friends would like to spend some time with us.  And after all, we do need to get out in the sun once and awhile and refresh. But who has time for that when writing is such a time-consuming passion?

Is this what you want to do with your life?

All writers are different. We have different techniques, styles, and ways of procrastinating. I happen to be one of those slow writers who can sometimes take an entire Saturday to write a short poem. There’s nothing wrong with writing slowly, it just cuts into my time for other activities. So, I try to plan time with friends accordingly.

If you want to be a writer, you really do have to make a choice. Writing is a seriously demanding job with very little thanks, and when every ounce of creative juice has been sucked from our brains, the last thing we want to do is go to a social gathering (witty writer…not so witty at parties).

There are definitely ways to try to balance writing with having a social life. I try to schedule time for writing, specific times during the day when I’ll write my blog posts and other assignments, that way I’ll have some sort of free time later. Sometimes life does get in the way though, and the writing has to be put off until later. Other times, writing needs to be the top priority.

There really is no right or wrong way to do this. It is your life, and that means you get to decide how you spend your time. I guess all we as writers can do is decide what matters most, and understand that our lives might be a little bit different from the rest. When you want to write, that’s just how it is.

Goodreads: Holy Crap, Where Have You Been All My Life?

Books behind the bed

Now I know I’m probably way behind on getting a Goodreads, but I just wanted to take today and feature this amazing tool because I’m pretty stoked about it and I’m sure there are still some people out there who haven’t heard of it yet.

I do realize that WordPress has a Goodreads widget available for us bloggers to use (and I have one now, look to the side for that), but I never had the time to sit down and see what “Goodreads” really was until just now.

Basically, Goodreads is a website where people can rate books they’ve read, receive recommendations based on those ratings, and keep a wishlist of all the books they want to read in the future. Nowadays, most of the chain bookstores offer these features on their websites once a person has made an account with them.

But there are a few things for me that really make Goodreads stand out compared to maybe just having a Barnes & Noble account.

  • I was browsing through the Explore tab and, I kid you not, they give out free books. Apparently publishers will give them copies of books that haven’t been released yet, and Goodreads will put them up on their website and users can enter to win one of the books. The nice part is, there’s more than one copy of the book. Plus, they tell you how many copies are left and how many people are signed up to win it, so you can weigh your odds a little bit before diving in. 100 copies with 900 people signed up? I like my chances.
  • Goodreads gives you a huge list of author interviews, their favorite books, and even live chats with certain authors on their website. Barnes & Noble does have a similar feature, but they tend to only showcase one author at a time. The Goodreads format allows you to pick from many different authors of various genres and find out more about them and what they like to read.
  • Goodreads offers short articles on organizations and people that are interested in literature and helping improve literacy around the world. I myself quite enjoy reading about charities that promote reading, especially since I feel that the popularity of reading has plummeted so much within the past few decades. Not only do they write about these organizations though, but Goodreads offers links and contact information so that you can learn how to get involved.
  • Listed under the “community” section, they have a creative writing page. This page gives you a list of genres and tags to point you toward users who have uploaded their own writing pieces. This section is pretty similar to what I did with the whole Paige’s Pages thing, and what many more WordPress users blog about daily. It’s a wonderful place for people without blogs or websites to get their work noticed.
  • There’s a section for upcoming events around the world, like author appearances, book swaps, book clubs, etc. Not only does Goodreads let you search through already established events, but you can even add your own. It’s a great way to become connected with more readers in your area.

That being said, I’m probably going to spend a few hours playing around on this site. If you don’t have time to sit at home all day, they do have a free mobile app as well. Don’t forget to check out my new Goodreads widget off to the side of this article, and if you have a WordPress blog, please check out the widget for yourself!

Moderately Meditated: A Quick Thought on Labels

Categorize yourself in one word.

Go.

…Done?

Chances are, you just had a hard time coming up with one word that could summarize the entirety of you. It’s difficult to describe the complexities of a person in a single word, and in much the same way, one single word can have many different associations. Labels, then, can tend to be a little vague.

Labels are, in essence, little descriptions of objects made to categorize and create an order. In the mess of diversity and chaos in our world, we seek to create this order within humanity. To do this, we must label ourselves.

But what do we really gain by doing this? Centuries of oppression for being labeled “black.” No equality under God for “gay.” Far too many make-me-a-sandwich jokes for “woman.” Certain labels like these require a kind of strength and confidence in order to wear. These are labels you cannot change and must come to terms with in the end.

With other labels, you get a lot more input. People choose how they wish to be identified, whether it is by the clothes they wear or the activities they’re involved in. My new “geek” shirt, for example, is certainly a testament to my academic accomplishments, but does “geek” really encompass all of Lee Paige? Does it mention my affinity for animals, my taste in music, or how I like to watch old reruns of Whose Line Is It Anyway?  Is one simple word really enough? I honestly don’t think so, but if it really is human nature to stamp a label on things, at least choose your stamp.

It fits...in more ways than one.

It fits…in more ways than one.

Choose a label that you feel depicts you best. Perhaps I’ll be a “geek” today and a “writer” tomorrow. No matter what I choose, however, I can take comfort in knowing the sign I’ll be wearing is an extension of me, whether it’s all of me or not. Knowing who you are (“black,” “gay,” “woman,” “geek”) and feeling comfortable enough to display it to the world…that’s “courageous.”

What do you think of labels? What do you want to be defined as?

Haters Gonna Hate: Learning to Handle Negative Criticism for Your Writing

Have you ever had your soul crushed?Depressed

You’d know if you have. Your heart drops to the deepest pit of your stomach and that slow motion smile-to-frown movement that you see in all the movies soon plays on your own face. It’s like someone grabs ahold of your soul, like a towel, and twists it, squeezing it tightly until every ounce of your being has dripped off.

I think we can all agree that receiving negative feedback on your writing feels much like that. You poured your soul out into that piece after all.

I got some of that feedback recently.

The poem I posted last week is the second draft of a poem I also submitted to one of my writing workshops at school. Many were confused by it and it was difficult to hear after I had been expecting a more positive outcome. But the worst kind of criticism is when someone actually dislikes your piece so much that they make fun of it.

I was sitting in class, waiting for it to start, and two people from my workshop were sitting behind me, clearly not able to see me sitting in front of them. They talked about miscellaneous things until they came to the subject of the poems we had worked on. When mine was mentioned, they bashed it for being too strange and obscure. I could have turned around to defend my poem, to explain that maybe they simply didn’t get it, but I just sat there and pretended I hadn’t been eavesdropping the whole time.

My soul felt crushed. I had basically put an entire weekend’s worth of work into that poem and they managed to tear it down in a manner of seconds. It’s a difficult experience to go through.

But the fact of the matter is, there are going to be plenty of people who think your writing stinks. They might despise your writing to the extent that they keep reading it just to tell other readers exactly how much they hate it. There will always be those people.

And they aren’t necessarily a reflection on your writing abilities, either. Maybe your genre isn’t their taste; maybe your writing style is a little different from what they prefer. We all have favorite authors, don’t we? There’s always going to be a book you just can’t get through no matter how many hours you put into it.

There’s always something for everyone. And that means that on this tiny speck of dust in this vast universe there are bound to be people who appreciate your writing just as much as you do. It may just take a few rounds to find them.

As for the haters, try not to take the negative comments so personally. I know it’s difficult not to, especially because writers are artists, and our work reflects a deeper part of us, of our souls. Take that criticism and use it to make your work better. Really consider what’s been said about your piece. Though some people tend to phrase their dislike in not-so-helpful terms, they might be on the right track to giving you some really good constructive feedback. Don’t ignore the hate, just don’t let it destroy you.

Writers have to build a tough skin in order to survive in the literary world. Even the most successful authors had their fair share of rejection letters. The key is not to give up. Don’t become discouraged after a few nasty comments. Let the haters hate. You know your piece is good.

Daily Prompt: Shoulda Woulda Coulda – Enticements

I’m guilty. Yep. There, I said it. I’m guilty.

I let the advertisers get me.

That’s right. I just bought a shirt that I didn’t really need (nor can really afford on my poor college student budget) all because I received an email with a 10% off coupon.

I know. 10% isn’t even that much. Was that purchase even worth it? Heck, the shipping costs were more than the discount itself. But hey, I’m about to have a really cool shirt conveniently shipped right to me (The shirt is for an academic honor society that I’m a part of and says “geek” on the front. Yeah. I had to have it.).

There’s just something about visualizing that little minus sign in my head that entices me to buy things I don’t really need. I’ve been hoarding coupon books and gift cards since I got to college. I tend to be very frugal with my money, though. I can usually tell when something is too expensive and not really worth my time, but show me that same product at a discounted price and I’m all over it. I think it’s a disease.

I know companies have figured this out about people, too. They target us. I can’t tell you how many emails I get throughout the day claiming this sale is seriously the final chance to buy their product at a lower rate, emails from websites I didn’t even know I had accounts with.

Sometimes I can delete the emails right away (New checks? Eh, I don’t need those). But other times (like with the bookstore email claiming 75% off all books. Oh God.), it takes a lot more will power not to drop what I’m doing and buy everything I like. You can see how this might be problematic.

I told you it would be problematic...

I told you it would be bad…

One thing I’ve never given into, though, is Black Friday. I’m not about to be trampled to death by housewives that have sat in line all night waiting for the coveted Victoria’s Secret sale when all they do is jack the prices up to make them seem discounted in the first place. Not my thing.

No, my new guilty pleasure is Groupon. Oh yes, I’ve signed up for deals in two different cities now. And every day, when I get loads of emails about fitness deals and $200 earrings marked down to $20 (seriously?!), I have to genuinely force myself to hit the Trash button. There goes my deal (Not really, I could just log into my account. But I try to take this moment as one of victory).

What’s something I know I should do, but don’t? For the sake of my tiny, tiny bank account, I’ve got to stay away from the discounts.