I just recently learned that Amanda Hocking’s Switched Book Trailer stars Natalia Tena from the Harry Potter movies. Now before I say anything else, I’m going to say that I love self-publishing. I’m very glad I chose it (and I’ll get into that in a bit). But seeing this gorgeous trailer made my insides seethe a lot like Ronald Weasley’s must have when that slug-eating spell backfired on him. There is no way that I could ever afford such a big name actress (or any actress for that matter) to star in a trailer for my book as a self-published author. This just seems totally unfair. But that’s the power of a publishing house and that’s why—if I was ever offered the opportunity to work with one—I would probably consider it.
Now, maybe Natalia is just a huge fan of Amanda Hocking’s books and offered to do the movie for free, but there would still be the cost of a director, the set, and the CG butterfly. Even if Natalia and Amanda were best friends, the costuming probably would have cost a fair amount of paper. This is definitely not a cheap movie, even if it’s only a couple of minutes long. I’ve tried making my own book trailer, with a couple pretty pictures and quotes from my book (see below).
I’ve also thought of hiring my niece to star in a book trailer for me. But she hates having her picture taken. In fact, she has expressly forbid it. In other fact, if she ever reads this, she will probably demand that I erase all mention of her. In that case, I’m not talking about her I’m talking about my other niece. What? I don’t have another niece…Hmmm. Well, maybe I can spruce up my mash-up of words and music and pictures. I do have that amazing cover art now.
This brings me to my next point. Cover art is something I think self-publishing has matched the Publishing Houses on. It’s pretty easy these days to hire and amazing artist to capture the image you have in mind. For my Sea-Witch and Broken Tide covers, I’m using Leah Keeler, whom I found on Deviant Art and has been totally amazing to work with. I do the text myself, as that’s a lot more straightforward so long as you have decent editing software. But you do have to be aware of typos. Which leads me to the next point: Editing.
I have some great Beta Readers, who, through many different reads, help me catch the mistakes which slip through my fingers. There are almost always some small typos in books, even in the books put out by the Big Houses. But let’s be honest, self-published books often have more mistakes. However, I don’t always catch the typos in things I read. It’s like that Facebook post where all the words are messed about and you’re supposed to see if you can still read the thing… Well, you can. It’s perfectly legible. And that’s because our minds fill in the gaps. Now, I don’t want to be reading books full of typos, because it pulls me out of the story. And I hate making mistakes, so maybe a professional editor I don’t have to pay $10,000 dollars for would be nice. Though, even if I were to work with a Big House, I’d be paying that back in a sense with the difference in royalties. Still, an amazing editor would be a dream. What I don’t want is someone who’s trying to change my story.
And this is a definite plus for self-publishing. When I submitted Sea-Witch to an agent, I was lucky enough to find someone interested enough to read the entire manuscript and give me feedback. She was nice – a great person – but some of what she suggested just didn’t make sense for my book. But some of it was great advice, and I took it. In the end, we went our separate ways. Maybe it was because I didn’t make all the changes she wanted. But this was my story. I want it to always be my story. Tighten it, correct it, smooth it out, but don’t flatten it. Don’t chop it and tear it and burn it and cover it with dirt to make it fit what you feel the ‘market’ wants. I want my story to be unique. I want my story to be mine. I don’t want to have to sell out to become a best-seller. But seeing that book trailer…well…
I’m sure some words floating across the screen to the soundtrack of my own slightly-out-of-practice flute playing will work just as well. Because having Grandma spontaneous turn into a bloodsucking-goblin just isn’t what I had in mind*.
*That wasn’t a real suggestion, but close!
J. E. Hunter is the author of the Black Depths Series. Tales of a Redheaded Sea-Witch, and Black Depths, the first two books of the series can be found on Amazon, Kobo, iBooks, Barnes and Noble, and Smashwords. The third book, Dark Shores, was released April 1, 2016. The fourth and last book of the Black Depths series, Twisted Currents, will be released in the fall of 2016.