QueryTracker Blog

Helping Authors Find Literary Agents

Friday, January 31, 2014

The Publishing Pulse: Jan 31, 2014

Success Story

Congrats goes out to Sarah Ahiers for signing with an agent this week. 

Around the Internet

Agent Janet Reid talked about querying your self-published novel. She also had a brilliant post on book promotion via Twitter.

Nathan Bransford shared some tips on choosing an ebook cover.

Since last year, when it was discover that a self-published author had stolen paragraphs from the works of authors Tammara Webber and Jamie McGuire, it’s become a growing concern that some “authors” have been stealing the words of other authors and passing it off as their own. Agent Rachelle Gardner discussed what to do if you’re worried about this happening to you. She also discusses piracy.

Writer’s Digest had a post on the five differences between professional and amateur novelists.

The history of the ebook via infographic.

What kind of reader species are you? (via infographic)

Have a great weekend!

Stina Lindenblatt @StinaLL writes Young Adult and New Adult novels. In her spare time, she’s a photographer and can be found at her blog/website. She is represented by Marisa Corvisiero, and finds it weird talking about herself in third person. Her debut New Adult contemporary romance TELL ME WHEN (Carina Press, HQN) is now available.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Know Your Genre: Contemporary YA

This is the second in the Know Your Genre series. Last week we took a look at Gothic romance. Today the topic is Contemporary YA.

Last year I read 40 recently published contemporary YA titles, because I wanted to really understand where the market was headed. And a great many themes and conventions revealed themselves to me. Now, rules are made to be broken, right? However, a unique, groundbreaking book would still probably tick off a few of these observations, while deviating in some fascinating way on one or two points.

So here goes:

1. First person, baby

More than 90% of the books I read last year were in either first person past tense or first person present tense. To my ear, the first person present tense has a breathless quality which feels younger and slightly less literary than past tense. But both forms have a personal, confessional tone which works well for teen voices.

Exceptions to this rule tended to be extraordinary. David Levithan's "Greek chorus" voice for Two Boys Kissing broke my heart from page one. And Rainbow Rowell's (very close) third person for FanGirl was mindblowingly skillful.

I only found a couple of titles with alternating first person points of view, and always in romance titles. Katie McGarry's Pushing the Limits series and books by Simone Elkeles did this.

2. MCs Between 15 and 18. Mostly.

It's possible to write YA about younger characters, but the stakes have to be pretty high for a teen to read about a person younger than themselves. (Patricia McCormick's SOLD is one brilliant example. The 13yo main character is sold into sex slavery.)

In the other direction, there is a definite trend toward YA books which follow their narrators into the summer after high school graduation, or off to college. Sarah Dessen, Gayle Forman, Rainbow Rowell, Sara Zarr and Lauren Myracle all recently published books with off-to-college narrators.

3. Not Too Short, Not Too Long

While fantasy novels, with all that world building, can be really fat, contemporary YA has historically topped out before 80,000 words. But if I were to pick a trend, I'd say the trend is toward more variation. I read 55,000 word books and 107,000 word books last year. Using www.arbookfind.com, I averaged all the ones I'd read which appeared in their database. My (not very) scientific result was a 77,000 mean.

4. Girl Power

Although I read some great boy voices, (Living With Jackie Chan, The Beginning of Everything, Reality Boy) girls are still the most frequent YA narrators. This is probably because girls are the biggest demographic reading YA novels.

5. No Topic Too Taboo

There is almost no subject matter which is wholly inappropriate for YA. I read books about rape, AIDS, drugs, oppression, sex, pregnancy, mental illness, abuse and sociopathic family members. And death. Lots of death.

So it's all on the table, and usually each difficult topic is handled with the weight it deserves. In fact, I read some moving, redemptive books about difficult subjects this past year, the sort that made me want to push them into the hands of everyone I knew. Colleen Clayton's What Happens Next counters a nasty rape with compassion and triumph. The gorgeous Personal Effects by E.M. Kokie is about death, abuse, war, loyalty and bigotry.

That said, I read a few titles where the handling of taboos felt a bit uneven, and left me scratching my head. One book had its characters smoking pot all the way through the book, from page one, but was much less comfortable addressing the sex its characters were probably having. And one book took on a dysfunctional family with grace and power, but didn't remark at all as its 16yo main character had an overtly sexual relationship with her 22yo boyfriend.

In fact, of all the taboos these books covered, sex and drinking were the two which authors and editors seemed to feel most fickle about. Sometimes they were handled with grace and gravity. Sometimes they were the entire subject of the book. But in other titles, they were excepted as normal and inevitable teenage behavior.

Of course, all fiction chooses its battles. But in a YA book, meant to be read by minors, uneven treatments jump out at me more frequently.

6. Drama!

It probably goes without saying, but there are no quiet, dainty little YA novels. And maybe that's why I like them so well. They are never, ever dull. To all that drama and teen angst, I say, "bring it!"

Sarah Pinneo
is a novelist and food writer. Her most recent book is Julia’s Child. Follow her on twitter at @SarahPinneo.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Publishing Pulse: Friday, January 24, 2014

This Week at Query Tracker

The profiles of several agents were updated this week. Please make sure you double-check every agent's website or Publisher's Marketplace page before querying.
Ready to write your own success story?

Remember--you'll reach success when you find the agent who is perfect for your work. Be sure to read each agent's profile carefully and visit other links such as company websites and blogs. Follow them on social media sites and get a feeling for what they really want. The better you know the agent, the better you will know if they are the right representative for your work. Blindly querying agents without regard for their guidelines or repped genres only delay the process--not only for you but for other writers.

Using QueryTracker.net will help you become a well-informed querying writer. Use the resources to your advantage and seek the fastest, straightest path to finding your ideal agent today.

This Week In Publishing

Forbes posted this article on the slew of recent publishing mergers…and the changes are still rolling through. This once-stable industry is now in a constant state of flux--and it’s not just the big houses that are surviving the shifts in publishing trends.

Now that digital publishing is more accessible than ever, perhaps it’s time for us to ask a question. Why are we writing our books—for the art or for the income? The Guardian takes a look at what the new ease of publishing should mean to a writer’s intentions.

Joanna Penn at The Creative Penn provides a look at international markets and foreign rights sales.

The devil is in the details…especially when it comes to filing taxes. This article describes a change in US tax law regarding your home office.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Ash Krafton is a speculative fiction writer who, despite having a Time Turner under her couch and three different sonic screwdrivers in her purse, still encounters difficulty with time management. Visit Ash at www.ashkrafton.com for news on her urban fantasy series The Books of the Demimonde (Pink Narcissus Press) or stop by the Demimonde Blog at www.ash-krafton.blogspot.com .

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Know Your Genre: Gothic

Over the past year, I've had to think hard about the meaning of genre and subgenre in commercial fiction. Whether you're traditionally or self-published, understanding how your book fits onto the shelf is a really important component to success. And sometimes, the best way to really understand genre is to listen to someone who knows it inside out. So I've asked author Barbara J. Hancock to share her thoughts with us about the gothic romance genre and what it means to her. Take it away, Barbara! --S.P.

By Barbara J. Hancock

I love to play in the shadows…

Though I’ve written in several genres, there are threads throughout all the books I’ve created that tie them together. I love atmosphere and angst. And larger-than-life characters who are tortured and maybe even scarred by their past experiences. But more than that, I especially love a heroine who somehow saves the day. She may not always carry a sword or wear a uniform, but my heroines are warriors at heart no matter how vulnerable, no matter how tempest tossed.

And this is why I was immediately drawn to the call for modern gothics by the Harlequin Digital First line.

When we think of gothics, our minds conjure the iconic young girl dwarfed by the gloomy manor and intimidated by the mysterious man who may or may not be friend or foe. I read Jane Eyre when I was thirteen and I fell in love with it. I read it at twenty-two and… loved it less. Rochester was kind of pervy, wasn’t he? I read it again in my late thirties and loved it enough to have made it a yearly read. Yes. Rochester is far from perfect, but it makes me crave him even more.

Because the gothic heroine is vulnerable and even intimidated, but, in the end, she’s made of stern stuff. She faces her fears. She solves mysteries. She takes on the most complex and complicated heroes and, often on the very precipice of tragedy and failure, she saves him and herself.

Gothic romances are about the healing power of love and they’re also about characters who find and embrace their strengths when they come up against dire situations. They’re about finding beauty hidden in darkness and doubt. They’re about grabbing happily ever after even when surrounded by danger and haunted shadows. In the most determined heroine and the darkest alpha hero there are hidden places of vulnerability that are drawn to each other. The modern gothic hones in on moments that illuminate those vulnerabilities and, in the end, in spite of the ambiguity of the hero, modern gothic romances become stories that bring hero & heroine together as a team to overcome each story’s black moment.

There are some things to keep in mind when you seek to create a modern gothic romance:

Motivation: Your heroine has to have a very good reason for braving whatever it is she has to face. Think about how angry you get when you’re watching a horror movie and a character goes outside or upstairs or down to the basement. Too Stupid To Live, right? But give her a sibling or beloved pet to save and suddenly we’re torn. She’s not TSTL. She’s a devoted sister. She’s protecting the innocent. Jane Eyre was an orphan with no way of supporting herself. She had to become a governess. Even when she faced danger and the forbidden attraction to her enigmatic employer, she couldn’t easily walk away. Make sure your modern gothic heroine has reasons she can’t simply walk…or run…away.

Chills: Gothic Romance has elements of romance and mystery, but it also has elements of horror and suspense. My imagination takes me old school…Edgar Allen Poe, Oscar Wilde, Robert Louis Stevenson. Creepy, but in a gorgeous way, steeped in lush sentiment and a hint of the macabre.

Setting and Atmosphere: These should be given the importance of a character in your story. Your readers should be transported from their safe, mundane apartment to another world. While technically, these are contemporary or historical stories, they should have an element of fantasy and escapism. I’m not saying you can’t create a gothic romance with an apartment building setting. I’m just saying that maybe the apartment building should be a crumbling art deco masterpiece with few inhabits and a shadowy stranger with secrets who lives in the penthouse suite.

And that brings us to the hero…

A gothic hero is my favorite type of romance hero. He is challenge, mystery, danger, threat, allure, intrigue, and a pure sensual torture to the heroine. And that’s just in the first meeting. He will be the most complicated, dynamic and compelling person she’s ever met and whether or not that’s going to damn her or save her should definitely be buzzing in the reader’s mind from page one. An author has to walk a fine line between giving him motivation and keeping his secrets, maintaining his mystery and making it believable that the smart heroine would fall in love with him in the midst of whatever high stakes situation she faces.

Barbara J. Hancock's brand new full-length book is available as part of the Shivers Box Set by Harlequin-e. There is also a free online read on www.Harlequin.com to give readers a chance to try the line. It's called Lost in Me.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Me, Myself, and My Characters

My thirteen-year-old niece recently read my book for a school assignment and sent me an adorable note about it. Her mother, my sister-in-law, told me that when Nina was reading, she was “hearing” me through my first person narrator. Then my sister-in-law confessed that she’d had the same response when she read it.

When my mother read my very first novel, a romantic comedy with a first person narrator, she persisted in believing that my narrator—a thirtyish redhead given to snappy repartee—was really her daughter in disguise. At a certain point in her reading, she turned to my father in triumph. “Hah!” she said, “She’s killed you off and given me a rich boyfriend.” No matter that my narrator’s mom is in fact my own age—young enough to be my mother’s daughter

When my sons read my work, they tell me it takes a good fifty pages before they stop hearing my voice and start hearing the voice of my narrator. But it’s more than the voice. It’s the character’s quirks they recognize, too. Springsteen fan? Check.  A fondness for beach glass, anisette, old movies, and a good Bolognese sauce? Check, check, check, and check.

“You’re on every page,” Son #3 told me. “There’s no escaping you.”

Why this belief that our characters are really their creators in another form?  With first person narration, I suppose it’s a natural assumption from the people who know us best because they spot the clues—a joke they’ve heard us make shows up in dialogue. Or a preference we have for a given food or a certain romantic type appears in the narrative. All this has gotten me thinking about the qualities with which we invest our characters, and how much of their personalities are our own.

In my current series, my main character, like me, is a mystery writer who loves the Jersey shore. And like me, she’s afraid of boardwalk rides, loves rustic Italian food, and has a weakness for tall guys with dark hair. Though she is also young, single, famous, and any number of things I am not, we certainly share some personality traits.

So I ask myself: is imbuing my character with pieces of myself a form of vanity? Laziness?  An unconscious part of the process of creation? Or perhaps all of the above? And sometimes the voice of doubt tells me that I’m not yet the writer I should be, that a real writer would create characters from whole cloth, instead of from a patchwork of traits.

In any case, I now have a stock answer for when friends and family members ask the inevitable question—Is the character of Victoria really you? 

“No,” I always tell them. “She has much better legs than I do.

A Jersey girl born and bred, Rosie Genova left her heart at the shore, which serves as the setting for much of her work. Her new series, the Italian Kitchen Mysteries, is informed by her deep appreciation for good food, her pride in her heritage, and her love of classic mysteries, from Nancy Drew to Miss Marple. Her debut novel, Murder and Marinara, was released October 1. An English teacher by day and novelist by night, Rosie also writes women’s fiction as Rosemary DiBattista. She lives fifty miles from the nearest ocean  in central New Jersey, with her husband and two younger sons.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Publishing Pulse for Friday January 17th, 2014

From around the web:

From author Beverley Kendall come some must-read survey results. Ms. Kendall is a romance author who wanted to explore the question of whether self-published authors were making a living wage, or whether the only successes belonged to a few much written-about lottery winners. Her results are thorough and fascinating!

Holiday sales slid 60% for the Nook unit of Barnes and Noble. Ouch.

They say "write what you know," and he did. It was revealed this week that the winner of a prestigious crime writing contest--and a publishing contract--was actually serving time for murder in prison.

If you write marketing blurbs for your work, you should read these statistics that BookBub put together. The book marketing website tested different copy for the books it advertises, and they reveal 5 observations about what works.

Simon & Schuster announced a new science fiction imprint called Simon451. (And if the imprint name doesn't ring any bells for you, then sci-fi is probably not your bag, baby.)

Oyster, aiming to be the Netflix of books, raised even more capital this week. So that's going to be, like, a thing soon.

Have a great weekend, people! (And thanks for allowing me that little Austin Powers reference.)

Sarah Pinneo
is a novelist, food writer and book publicity specialist. Her most recent book is Julia’s Child. Follow her on twitter at @SarahPinneo.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

NaNoWriMo For The Rest of Us

I have a confession to make: I’ve NaNo’d. And I’ve NaNo’d badly.

I know the rules for National Novel Writing Month. It’s all about the word count. The aim is to bar all excuses and get that first draft down. Goal is 50,000 words in the thirty days of November, during which you mark your progress in your NaNo profile.

For the past three years, I’ve used NaNo to plump up the word counts of my side projects while working on my Demimonde series. But I’ve never hit my 50k goal. Not once.

The biggest obstacle to getting my first draft down isn’t writer’s block or inspiration or ambition. Plain and simple, it’s time. I work full-time outside the home (as well as inside the home, thanks to my wonderfully over-active family life). My writing time is at a premium: solitary mornings between school bus and work, waiting time while kids are at judo, a few hours on my days off.

I’m willing to try any system that forces me to sit down and write. This summer, I participated in a Fast Draft with a group of writers, during which we wrote in sprints with support from each other. I had a major deadline to meet and the week-long event fueled my drive to meet it. (For more on my experience with Fast Draft, read this.)

The annual NaNo is another tool I try to use, but I always feel like I join in with a handicap.

Think thirty days is too short a time to write a novel draft? Try ten. That’s all the time I have to participate. I suppose if I could write 5k a day on each of those ten days, I’d have it made. Although I have never actually managed that, it does provide me with a theoretically plausible goal. That’s why I NaNo each year—there’s always hope.

NaNo: The Winners

I envy those writers who win their NaNo. I see their proclamations and their nifty I WON badges all over the place and I invariably end up scolding myself for not trying harder. But I don’t scold very hard or very long because, while I was never a definitive winner, I usually got good work done.

And NaNo’ing isn’t just designed to give writers an exercise in endurance or inspiration to get those latent stories written. Our WriMo books aren’t always meant to hide away in drawers and on hard drives. I’ve read accounts where writers went on to finish the books and get them published. You can see the lists of books that NaNo participants have published, many by traditional houses.
Stuff like that is inspirational. More so, it's intimidating for the rest of us.

Sure, there are loads of NaNo winners, and heaps of success stories for the books that made it to the light of day. But I was never one of them. I’ve never hit 50k in a month. I’ve never ended up with a first draft by November 30th. That’s why I feel like a bad NaNo’er.

My project in 2011 fared pretty well, with just over 30K for the month. I might have actually written a little more, but I was doing final edits on the first Demimonde novel, which came out the following March. NaNo 2012 was completely abysmal by comparison; I simply wasn’t committed to the project because I was busy promoting the first Demimonde book while editing the second, which was due out in six months. I think I spent more time revamping my NaNo profile than I did writing.

This past November, my edits on the third Demimonde book had been submitted early and I was between projects. I had space to breathe and think about an unfinished project that had been brewing in the back of my head. Although I only spent six days on NaNo 2013, I managed 15k words, plus a synopsis. (I think the synopsis impressed me more than anything because books are easy, by comparison.)

Three years, three projects, and none of them “winners”.

The Rest Of Us

But I didn’t lose. Not by a long shot. Despite my shortcomings, I think there may be hope for me yet because I decided NaNoWriting doesn’t have to be limited to a single “Mo”.

The project from 2011 didn’t just evaporate in the ether. I pulled it out this past summer and read through the unfinished book. I still loved the idea of the story and decided those 30k words were too much to let languish. In August, I resurrected the file and enlisted the help of a professional reference/fellow author/good friend and began investigating the details of the psychology in the story. I went on to finish the first draft in early October and revised over the next two months. Bugged a few beta readers, entered a few contests, revised some more…and today it’s ready for the eyes of an editor.

It took two years, but my NaNo ’11 book got written, got edited, and got submitted. Hopefully, it’ll get published, too.

Two years to a complete first draft. Not thirty days. And I don’t feel bad about it.

The True Spirit of NaNoWriMo

In the meantime, I carry a bit of NaNo around in my writer’s soul every day. I look forward to the NaNo emails that arrive throughout the year.

Right now we are in the "I Wrote a Novel, Now What?" months. A recent email addressed helpful topics for all writers, including tips on editing, participation in writers’ communities, and an invitation to a program on the subject of self-publishing.

Writing a novel isn’t a dash. It’s more like a relay race, and your novel is the baton. The first leg of the race is the first draft. Then, you pass the baton on to the edits and revisions, which make several more laps. The race still doesn’t end there; you hand the baton off to critique partners or beta readers. Perhaps you’ll pass it to an agent or the editor of a small press. Then the edits and revisions do a few more laps before reaching the finish line, where your readers await.

Does it sound like a lot of running in circles? Sure it does.  But never for one moment think you aren’t going anywhere. Even a spring can be straightened into a straight line—and the length of it may surprise you.

Some writers can get the first lap done in thirty days, during NaNoWriMo. I’m not one of them. But I do encourage every writer to participate. Don’t miss out on a fabulous program just because you can’t write for thirty days or because you’re sure you can’t get that word count down. You may not make the 50k goal and you may not earn a Winner’s badge, but you’ll have a new reason to sit and write, a source of encouragement and support, and access to helpful resources throughout the year.

In the long run, you just might finish that book, and edit it, and publish it. To me, that’s a huge win.

Ash Krafton is a speculative fiction writer who, despite having a Time Turner under her couch and three different sonic screwdrivers in her purse, still encounters difficulty with time management. Visit Ash at www.ashkrafton.com for news on her urban fantasy series The Books of the Demimonde (Pink Narcissus Press) or stop by the Demimonde Blog at www.ash-krafton.blogspot.com .

Monday, January 13, 2014

Filing off the serial numbers

When Pixar posted their rules of storytelling, my favorite was Rule 12.

#12: Discount the 1st thing that comes to mind. And the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th – get the obvious out of the way. Surprise yourself.

This weekend, I critiqued a story where this was my first encouragement to the writer. Her technique was fine, and she had her pacing down, so why didn't the story grab me? Trust me, I analyzed this piece to death, and even while driving to my critique group, I was still coming up with new angles for making the story start to breathe.

But finally I came down to the final answer: tropes and stereotypes dominated the story, whereas the places the story lived were the places the author had struck out her own path.

I'm obfuscating and declarificating the details because it's her story, not mine (whereas I make merciless fun of my own story.)  But at one point in the story, a walk-on character mentions her pet. The character is a gentle, sweet old lady, Mrs. Witherspoon, who owns a purebred Persian cat named Cuddles. During the conversation, she mentions her neighbor, Bo, who keep a nasty alley-cat named Butch. 

You can see the stereotypes at work here. But what if she'd thrown away her first idea? What if the sweet little old lady had the nasty alley cat? What if she'd named the nasty alley cat Cuddles? What if the redneck neighbor was raising purebred Persian cats and had several champion showcats? What if the fluffy purebred Persian cat were named Butch?

This is where you can start taking your readers' presuppositions and turning them on their heads, keeping everyone intrigued because no one is predictable. Send your story off the rails -- or rather, lay out rails and send your story on a different set of rails. Why? Because your readers are going to enjoy the ride more with the occasional surprise that makes them say, "Oh…?" followed by, "Of course!"  

The story in question had taken all the tropes of its genre and recombined them, but they were still all the same tropes, and because of that, you pretty much knew the ending after the second page. Every genre has its stereotypes (the damsel in distress, the tortured man with a past, the reluctant hero, whatever) but your job is to get more mileage out of those characters by filing off the serial numbers and fully owning them.

Escape the stereotypes. Your mobster doesn't need to be named Frankie or Vinny. Your romantic lead doesn't need to have green eyes and beautiful hair. Your villain may still be a mad scientist, but maybe his motivation is more than just "I wanted to show everyone my brilliance, until the day I went too far." Your first ideas are probably good, but take them further. Reshape them. Surprise us.

Jane Lebak is the author of The Wrong Enemy. She has four kids, three cats, two books in print, and one husband. She lives in the Swamp and spends her time either writing books or knitting socks. At Seven Angels, Four Kids, One Family, she blogs about what happens when a distracted daydreamer and a gamer geek attempt to raise four kids. If you want to make her rich and famous, please contact the riveting Roseanne Wells of the Jennifer DeChiara Literary Agency. 

Friday, January 10, 2014

Publishing Pulse for January 10, 2014

Success Stories

The QT hits just keep on comin’! Congrats to our latest success story, Erica M. Chapman.

Around the Web

Need some motivation for a new project? Author, literary agent, blogger, and all-around Cool Guy Nathan Bransford talks about getting started on that next book.

The Books section of the Huffington Post offers tips on writing here.

At Writer Unboxed, Heather Webb shares insights about character arcs.

 And despite all popular wisdom, according to the Washington Post, independent bookstores are holding their own against Amazon.

A Jersey girl born and bred, Rosie Genova left her heart at the shore, which serves as the setting for much of her work. Her new series, the Italian Kitchen Mysteries, is informed by her deep appreciation for good food, her pride in her heritage, and her love of classic mysteries, from Nancy Drew to Miss Marple. Her debut novel, Murder and Marinara, released October 1. An English teacher by day and novelist by night, Rosie also writes women’s fiction as Rosemary DiBattista. She lives fifty miles from the nearest ocean  in central New Jersey, with her husband and two of her three sons.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

11 Tips For Making A Book Trailer

by Stina Lindenblatt @stinaLL

©Stina Lindenblatt

There are a multitude of ways to promote your book, book trailers being one method. Whether you need one is up to you. They can be an effective method to promote your book, or they can be a waste of money with no returns. If you do decide to make one, here are some tips for making the most out of yours.

1. Decide what the purpose of the trailer will be. Most trailers don’t sell books. But they might get a potential reader interested in your book…if you don’t bore them with your trailer. I know a few people who decided NOT to read a book after watching the trailer. When I recently made one, I wanted a teaser trailer that was short. My goal was to get people interested enough to check out the blurb.

2. Check out book trailers both within and outside your genre. Make a list of what you liked and didn’t like about them. This will help you when it comes to creating yours. 

3. Set a budget. Book trailers can range from cheap to super expensive. If you decide you absolutely LOVE movie-style trailers, expect to pay A LOT of money. We’re talking thousands of dollars. If you do decide to go this route, don’t cut corners. A cheap looking trailer will hurt you not help you.

4. Create your script. Jot down keywords, moods, images you want to convey. This will help you create your script. Based on these, write the sentences that will be printed (or spoken) in the trailer. Keep them short and to the point.

Once you’ve got the script written (or the rough version of it), look for pictures and videos that represent the story.

5. Don’t rehash your blurb in the trailer. Blurbs are too long for trailers. Short and to the point is better than long and rambling. If your trailer grabs the reader’s attention, she’ll check out the blurb on Goodreads, Amazon, or your website.

6. If you don’t know how to put together a trailer, hire someone to do it for you—or recruit someone willing to help. If you create one yourself, make a mock version before committing to the pictures, videos, and music. The mock versions will be watermarked with the company’s name (i.e. Shutterstock). 

7. If you don’t own it, you can’t use it. Just because Bon Jovi’s latest hit single works perfectly in your trailer, that doesn’t give you the right to use it. And just because you bought the single from iTunes, that doesn’t mean you own it. You have to pay for copyright privileges (and hint, Bon Jovi will be very expensive). Make sure you pick royalty-free music. 

8. Watch out for that alpha channel. If you select a video with an alpha channel attached to it, be aware that not all video software can handle it. The older version of my son’s Video Studio Pro couldn’t. The outcome was messy until we tried the new version of the software, and then it worked like magic. The video stock website should warn you if the video does have an alpha channel. Unfortunately I didn’t know what the word meant at the time when I downloaded the video.

9. Make sure all the pertinent information is in the trailer. Don’t forget the title, your name, and your website at the end, and make sure they are visible. 

10. Get Feedback. Just like with your book, have beta testers view your trailer and give you feedback. If they’re honest with you, they’ll let you know when your video is confusing, boring, or needs a little tweaking.

11. Have fun! This is the most important tip.

Have you created a book trailer? Do you have any other suggestions? If you haven’t created one, are there things you liked and didn’t like about the ones you’ve watched?

Stina Lindenblatt @StinaLL writes Young Adult and New Adult novels. In her spare time, she’s a photographer and can be found at her blog/website. She is represented by Marisa Corvisiero, and finds it weird talking about herself in third person. Her debut New Adult contemporary romance, TELL ME WHEN, will be released Jan. 20, 2014 (Carina Press, HQN).