Wednesday, June 29, 2016

WRITE NOW: All-Day Teen Writer's Workshop with YA Authors, Tessa Emily Hall & Caroline George

Saturday, October 8 at 10:30 AM - 3:30.
202 East Greenville Street, Anderson, SC 29621

*** Registration closes 10/7. Email to register and reserve your spot today! ***

YA authors, Tessa Emily Hall and Caroline George, will hold an all-day informative and interactive workshop for writers.

Be inspired as they share their experience of being published as a teen. Learn how you can apply techniques to your writing that will impress an agent or publisher. Discover secrets that will enable you to come across as a professional and increase your chances of publication.

With more than six years in the industry, Tessa and Caroline have learned from professionals through attending over thirteen writing conferences combined. They have spoken to young people of all ages, encouraging them to tap into their potential and pursue their unique calling.

Aspiring authors will come away from this workshop with new ideas for their stories, as well as step-by-step guidelines that will launch their writing journey.

9 Steps to Creating a High-Quality Book Trailer with a Low Price Tag

It is extremely possible to create a high-quality book trailer with a low price tag. Many authors are intimidated by the task, mainly because they are afraid of the financial investment and workload.

Over the course of the past few months, I have worked to produce a book trailer for The Prime Way Program: Be the Victor. Overall, I spent around $300 to produce a full-length, cinematic book trailer with a full cast and crew. We filmed for fourteen hours, in six locations.

In this post, I will share the 9 Steps to Creating a High-Quality Book Trailer with a Low Price Tag. I’ve implemented all of these steps while being a full-time college student, author, and Harper Collins intern.

No matter your schedule, you can produce a professional trailer for your book.

1.    Purpose

Decide how you plan to use the trailer and then, decide the format. If you plan to use the trailer at tradeshows and book-signing, a word-focused format might be best. However, if you plan to use it for a social media campaign, consider a more cinematic approach.

A few years ago, I hired a videographer to create a book trailer for my speaking engagements.

It was a simple trailer that incorporated text, images, and music to portray the overall plot of my book. Because I plan to rebrand my trilogy and begin a social media advertising campaign, I produced a cinematic trailer to capture my audience.

2.    Write A Screenplay

To those who do not know how to structure a screenplay, this may seem like a daunting task. Begin by choosing the book scenes that most effectively show the plot arch. Ask readers which scenes they remember best. Pick key moments and translate into a script. Minimize dialogue to the maximum of one line per character and instead focus on movement. Also, refer to other screenplays for examples. Research will provide you with the information to properly format and word the screenplay.

3.    Research and Edit

What makes a good trailer is a researched, edited screenplay. Watch other book and film trailers to gain a more intelligible perspective of plot arches. Once you’ve drafted a screenplay, have a variety of people read and review your script and then, make a list of all you will need, costumes, cast members, equipment, number of crew members, etc.

4.    Visionary Crew

Find a key group of people to help you develop your vision for the trailer—I cannot stress enough the importance of this. You want a crew that understands the purpose of your project and are more focused on portfolio building rather than making a profit from the trailer. Of all the people you require for the project, your director is the most vital.

Tyler Traeger, a dear friend of mine and the director of The Prime Way Program book trailer, worked with me to finalize the script and film times. Because of his involvement in the creative process, I trusted his judgment during filming.

5.    Cast

Casting is the step with the longest timeframe since you will be looking for actors willing to work for free. Give yourself enough time to find the perfect cast. Stalking on social media is acceptable for this. Ask around.

I found my cast at school and a rock-climbing gym.

6.    Costuming/Supplies

Goodwill is your best friend. Do not be afraid to ask your cast if they have certain costume pieces. Also, use your own clothes and props.

7.    Locations

Go location scouting and be willing to compromise original vision to fit overall filming process. Look at what you have and see what can be altered to match the screenplay.

8.    Logistics

Logistics and good communication must be your number-one priority. Make a detailed schedule of your filming process and delegate jobs so you can be focused on the filming rather than trying to fill every role. Also, if you have a cast who are offering their time for free, gift them with food, drinks, and thank you presents. Keep the atmosphere positive and encouraging!

9.    Portray Vision

Throughout the filming process, ensure that the cast and crew understand what they’re working to capture, but do this is an affirming manner. And trust the director! Those handling the cameras know what looks good on film.

After working so hard to put together a trailer for your book, show it off! Be like a mom with a newborn baby—post your trailer everywhere.

Many thanks to . . .

Videographers: Tyler Traeger and Christi Deurksen

Actors: Nathan Queen, Leah Sykes, Richard Sowienski, Cristopher Stayton, and Trevor Lovingood

Extras/Crew: Emily Autrey, Elise Boling, Marguerite Baldes, Claudia George, Julie George, Rachel Martin, Palmer Hooks, Peter Atkins, and Parker Anderson

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

What Agents Don’t Tell You: From Query to Contract

 Have you written a book?
Are you looking for an agent?

As a two-time self-published author now signed with Hartline Literary Agency and past intern of Harper Collins, I have experienced the pros and cons of both traditional and nontraditional publishing.
In this blog post, I will share what agents don’t tell you and offer tips on how to land a contract with an agency.

Agents are the real-estate agents of publishing, acting as the “middle-men” between sellers and buyers, authors and publishers. They add credibility to manuscripts, reducing publishers’ slush piles to a few thousand proposals.
The best ways to land an agent:
Since the emergence of literary agencies, there has been a standard process for querying. Writers send their pitch letters, sometimes the first few pages of their manuscript, to agents and wait up to six-months for a response. If an agent is interested, the author then sends more of the manuscript. This process continues until the interested agent reads the whole book and offers a contract.
Pros of the system: Agents are able to weed out books that aren’t ready for the market, and authors have the ability to query as many agents as desired.
Cons of the system: Many queries and manuscripts are left in an agent’s slush pile, some never to be examined. Those reviewed are strictly analyzed and refused if the structure, word count, etc. are less than optimal. This denies writers the chance to fully present their writing and the marketability of their work.
With such a systematic process in place, how can writers raise their chances of landing agents?
Conferences offer a unique opportunity for writers to have face-to-face interaction with agents and other professionals within the publishing industry. Often, writers are able to schedule time with the faculty to pitch their books. Agents can then put a face to a query letter and are more likely to select the book for representation.
Secret . . .
The key to a successful pitch isn’t scheduling time with an agent and delivering a top-notch hook; it is the connection fused between the writer and the agent.
Tip . . .
When you attend a writers’ conference, focus on genuine relationship building. Connect with other writers and publishing professionals. This will allow you to show your marketability, your book’s overall potential, and most importantly, give you the chance to learn. Ask questions. Listen to what others have to say. Apply the advice presented to you.
By networking, you unlock the second and most secret way to landing an agent.
Word-of-Mouth is a method rarely mentioned by agents but has proven the most successful for me. I pitched at a writers’ conference in New York City and queried over a hundred agents, but I didn’t land a contract with an agency until my close friend, who I met by inquiring about a book review, referred me to her boss/agent. Because of her recommendation, my query was raised to the top of the slush pile and given more notice.
Remember: Who you know is everything.
Build your platform. Befriend others who are more and less experienced. You never know which conversation over a cup of coffee will gift an opportunity.

How to make yourself more appealing to agents:
Professionalism is candy to an agent. When you query, send a proposal, and generally communicate, make sure to be well-informed and respectful. Nothing is more of a turn-off than a sloppy proposal and a nagging, ignorant author.
Do your research—everything you need to know about the submission process can be found online. Edit your work, even your emails. And please, be educated on the publishing industry and current marketplace.
Tips . . .
An agent’s job is to shop your book to publishers, making them your business partner, not your teacher, editor, and confidant. Respect their time and workload, and they will respect you.
Platform is number-one priority to publishers, which gives it extreme importance to agents. Books are a dime-a-dozen, so make your book more than a book. Give it backing. Create a brand for yourself by blogging, being active on social media, etc. And formulate a viable, creative marketing plan for your book.

To express your dreams, you must first express yourself. Readers are more likely to buy a book if they have a connection with the author.

In conclusion, agents and publishers aren’t the formula of a bestselling book, rather they’re the projectors showing your masterpiece on an international screen. You are your book’s greatest advocate. Once you relinquish reliance on the standard system and fight to make your work an asset to the publishing industry, you find your place within it.
Authors, self-published and traditionally-published, are entrepreneurs. Those who treat their writing as a business stand more of a chance at achieving success.