site stats
Wet Noodle Posse | Blog

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Not Everything You wanted to Know About Videos

WARNING: LONG blog with lots of information

I get a lot of questions about making book videos.

Most people want to know if it's hard work.
Yes. No, if you're clever enough. You'll hate me, hate WMM, hate that you ever thought you could do this thing– until you get the hang of it.

Do they take a lot of time?
They can. Or not. Depending on how fanatical you are. You don't have to be like me and do some immensely complicated piece of "art". My friend Heather Hiestand, in fact, did one in just a few hours (her second one, that is.) But her philosophy is to do short ones that don't lose the viewer's interest.

In her first one, Heather didn't even use music. She just narrated.
On the other hand, I figure my first one cost me about 60-80 hours, mostly because I didn't know what I was doing and didn't SAVE often enough. But here it is:

And does it cost a lot of money?
No. But yes if you want to pay out the dough. You can get expensive music, pay actor, buy expensive photos or even videos to insert. Or not. Get creative. Get your guitar-playing cousin to do some background music for you. Hunt through family photos. Browse the royalty free sites for good bargains. Jill Monroe and Esri Rose have done some really funny things with interviews. And if you want to see funny, go look at this: Not bad, huh?

Or they want to know if it pays off as far as promo dollars is concerned.
Depends on what you want. If you think your video will go viral and suddenly your book will too, you're probably going to be disappointed. But if you want to reach a different audience, or get your name out there, good videos can really help to do that. The investment may be a longer term one than you want right now. Or maybe you want to look at both short term and long term. Personally, I love doing the frustrating artwork and assembly. It's a huge challenge. But I don't figure much of anyone will want to do my kind of video. Which is good. I get to be unique.

And some people want me to do theirs for them.
Well maybe later when I know more. For now– I've still got too much to learn. Simplicity, for one thing...

Or if not, how about telling them how to do it.
Well..... There's not a lot of point in taking up blog space to say what other people have already said. So to begin with, go look here to learn basic book video making:

I suggest you use Windows Movie Maker. It's clunky, let's face it. But it is probably still the most versatile and easiest to use video maker available to most of us. Chances are excellent if you use Windows, you have WMM on your computer too. Mac users have an equivalent, I think.

There's one thing to say about WMM, and don't forget this: SAVE YOUR WORK EVERY STEP YOU TAKE. I MEAN IT. If you don't, you'll get deeply involved, thinking it's going along so well, and it will pack up. You could get lucky- but likely you've lost everything.

Begin with deciding what you want to say. How can you be unique? Intriguing? Well, how about your book blurb? Do you have a short, exciting, pithy one? I think for SINS OF THE HEART, I'm going to use this:

The Cornish cliffs at dawn: Two ladies, one spyglass. Two naked men cavorting in the surf. One of them is the man Juliette hoped would never find her. If she pretends to help him catch the gold-smuggling traitors, she might not die. But what if she falls in love instead?

Then think about your visual images. Videos are all about visual and audio imagery. What says your story? I've chosen a few pictures I'm pasting here. Now remember, I do historicals, so not a lot of photos are going to do it for me. Guys just don't run around wearing cravats these days. That's why I choose to "paint" my images. But usually photos are my base.

And don't forget your cover. Use it as the foundation for your little story.

Here are some good places to look for photos. Doing searches for "sexy man" can pay off here like no other place:


Istock and some others also sell video clips. While a photo might cost you $1-3 (get the small or extra small ones), a video clip of rippling waves like this one will cost you 10 credits, or about $20.
Here's one I'm thinking of using. My story is about smugglers and spies, so why not?

Then there's the music. Do NOT use music that is copyrighted by someone else without permission. Buying your photos or music at royalty-free sites assures you the maker is being paid for his work. But make sure you use legitimate sites. There are frauds out there.

Some great music sites:

What am I going to use for my SINS video? Don't know. There's one at Royalty-Free TV that makes me want to sing with it, and that means writing lyrics and persuading my brother to do the duet. Uhhhhh..... Maybe there's an easier one?

Where do you put videos?
YouTube. MySpace. MetaCafe. TubeMogul will give you a list of places you can use, and then will keep track of them once you have them up. Be aware, though, their site is not the easiest to figure out. This is a promotion site. There are others that want you to pay. This one you can use free, for now.
And then there's The New Covey Awards.
If you love your new work, why not show it off and compete for the prize?
And some blogs and review sites will also carry your video, along with your book cover. Just ask!

If you want to join this madness with me, and need a little tutoring, just drop me a line. Or ask your questions now. There are a few things I can probably tell you about using WMM that will save you some headaches. For instance, how to change fonts. How to do transitions. How to adjust your photo frames to match better with the music. But that all takes time and space. If you want to know, though, I'm happy to share.

Labels: , , , , , , , , , ,


At 11:50 AM, Blogger Barbara Phinney said...

Delle, great advice. I want so badly to do a video. I'm horrible at using the computer. But I'm thinking of hiring a student I know who is hanging around this summer. She does this sort of thing all the time.
Barbara Phinney

At 12:04 PM, Blogger Mo H said...

Delle, thanks for sharing all this knowledge with us. I've never made a video, but I definitely now know who to go to for help if I do!

At 12:13 PM, Blogger Delle Jacobs said...

Quite honestly, I think I went overboard in this and it looks like it's too complex. But it doesn't need to be.

If you can write a book blurb or do a quick elevator pitch to an editor you can do a video. Use that 50-100 word blurb as your base.

Don't try to tell your whole story- why would anyone want to buy the book if you've told them everything? Think HOOK.

Take a few minutes to check out Windows Movie Maker on your computer. You'll see you have three tracks, one for your photos/videos. one for your sound, and one for the overlay of titles or whatever words you want to appear on the screen. you just line things up the way you want them. There are tricks to making things overlap or making each "scene" shorter or longer and adding in those cool transitions that fade or turn pages and so on. But you basically just work these three tracks.

At 12:30 PM, Blogger Delle Jacobs said...

You can do it, Barbara. I've seen very inexperienced people do this. Can you lay out photos in a row? This is what you do. You just put them in your computer. Then you have "Transitions" that you just click and drag between the photos.

If you want to try something fun, but very easy, just check out
I did a couple of sideshows as a way of keeping trip photos and also of my cover art. You can just paste them together and then easily move them to your home computer, MySpace or wherever you want them.

Here's mine:

At 4:44 PM, Blogger Diane Gaston said...

great information, Delle.

At 6:26 PM, Blogger Heather Hiestand said...

I think making book videos is more time-consuming than hard. For me, the hours melted away because it was surprisingly fun. Everyone should do it once and Delle told you everything you need to know!

At 6:27 PM, Blogger janegeorge said...

Thanks, Delle!

I'm not ready to tackle this yet, but I've written down and bookmarked all your hard-won info!

At 8:55 PM, Blogger louisa said...

Wow, this was a great blog, Delle! I am extremely computer challenged, but I realize it would be silly for me to have all of these programs on my computer and not at least try to use them. You make it sound a bit more manageable.

Like JaneGeorge I am going to keep all of this info and give it a shot after Nationals.

At 9:38 PM, Anonymous Kathryn Albright said...

Great advice Delle. Thanks for sharing all your knowledge about this--and some of the ups and down. I'm still having trouble figuring out a myspace presence, so I know this is a ways in the future for me. But it looks like it could be fun, once I get the hang of it.

At 9:48 PM, Blogger Theresa Ragan said...

Great slideshow, Delle. Thanks so much for all the info!

At 10:50 PM, Anonymous Tiffany James said...


Thanks for all of this great information! I really enjoyed this post and look forward to playing with WMM, just maybe not by myself!

I thought Barbara had an interesting idea. There are several colleges near me and I might post a notice at the appropriate "School of..." (maybe graphic arts?)and see if there isn't student available who could work with me and also beef up his/her resume.

Thanks - love the Wet Noodle Posse


At 12:48 AM, Blogger Delle Jacobs said...

I'm still hearing that wee voice of intimidation. Very understandable. I think I'll see if there's some way I can design a teaching project in which a group can participate, and make a simple video together.

Like I've said many times before, it's not something for everybody. But that's also one of those things you don't really know until you try it.

At 8:13 AM, Blogger Gillian Layne said...

I'm late to chime in, Delle, but wanted to say thanks for the great post. This looks like something my computer savvy teenage daughters would be all over in a heartbeat. :)

At 11:45 AM, Blogger Esri Rose said...

Wow, what a great primer! Thanks so much for gathering this information, Delle, and making such a generous offer of help, too.

You're a golden goddess!

At 1:00 PM, Blogger A. F. Stewart said...

Thanks for the tips and links.

Windows Movie Maker is fairly good for videos, especially the newest version. The software muvee autoProducer isn't bad either.


Post a Comment

<< Home

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]