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Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Author Events (and the importance of going)

Fall is upon us, and with it has come a whirlwind of author events, timed with the busy fall book release season! Summer can be a slow season for book promotion (trust me, I know, having promoted two books in the summer season) so for months I haven't emerged from my writing cave or shed my pajama-like writing uniform. But suddenly friends' books are all coming out in rapid succession, so this month I have stepped out!

Ammi-Joan Paquette launches PRINCESS JUNIPER 
I kicked off the book launch season by attending the Porter Square Books release party for Ammi-Joan Paquette's great middle-grade adventure Princess Juniper of the Hourglass. The next week I attended a party for Josh Funk's outstanding picture book, Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast. (There were pancake and French toast cookies, too, so if you missed this event, you really missed out). Days later, I went to the launch party for my very own editor, Leila Sales (also an acclaimed YA author!) who released her fourth YA novel,  Tonight the Streets Are Ours, at Brookline Booksmith. The very next day (whew!) I enjoyed an amazing talk and reading at Porter Square Books by my good friend (and writing group member) Patrick Gabridge, who was discussing his new historical novel Steering to Freedom. This Thursday I'm off to a public library event to see picture book author friend Debbie Sosin read from and talk about Charlotte and the Quiet Place, an important book for kids (well, for all of us!) about mindfulness in a busy world. (Too busy for book events? Maybe. But I'm mindfully trying to see as many as I can!)

Patrick Gabridge discusses STEERING TO FREEDOM
These were the five book events I could commit to this month, on top of the Boston Teen Author Festival last weekend, which I was working at so I'm not sure it counts. And still I have a heavy heart about missing other great book events this month, including what I heard was a phenomenal launch party for debut author Mackenzie Lee (This Monstrous Thing), an event I'd fully intended to get to -- until a monstrous traffic jam foiled my plans. Yes, sometimes life gets in the way and despite our best intentions we can't get to a live author event -- even though we've vowed on a Facebook Event Page that we would.

Every event I attended involved some effort. Getting my kid fed first. Getting through rush hour traffic. Urban parking -- so not my thing. And in the case of Leila's event? Blocked-off streets near the bookstore for the Johnny Depp movie premiere going on right across the street at the exact same time! 

No, not a book event! Johnny Depp's movie premiere!
It's much easier NOT to go to book events. It's easy to think "Oh, I want to meet that author or hear her read, but I'm exhausted from work, I'll catch her at the next event." But every time I've made the effort, I'm so glad I have. Partly because these days, there's no guarantee of a next event -- authors rarely go on a grand "tour" anymore, so if you miss someone at Newtonville Books, well, you may have missed them. Partly I'm glad I made the effort because attending events is one of the best ways to support authors and bookstores (especially LOCAL authors and bookstores). Partly I'm glad because as an author I've been on the other side of this thing. I've had well-attended events, which is great, but I've also had my share of events where the only people in attendance were my husband and a homeless man. (And sometimes not even the husband). (And sometimes nobody at all).

Mostly I go to these events because there's almost nothing more inspiring to me than hearing an author talk, in person, about the inspiration behind a book, or about their writing process. I love hearing authors read their own words and hearing about how a book came together from start to finish. I love meeting new people and seeing old friends at local events. And I always come away reminded of how important it is to be active in a reading community. I'm grateful to the bookstores like Porter Square and Booksmith that can offer up a space for community, connecting us to other readers and writers. 

This fall I'm renewing my commitment to attending as many book events as I can, striving for three a month. I'm also going to start an "Author Events Recap" series here on this blog, discussing book events I've attended.

I'd rather hang out with these book people than the movie premiere people any day!
I'd love to hear from readers who attend author events, too -- what makes you want to attend an event? (The author's name? Advertising? A chance to discover someone new?) What gets in your way of attending author events? Do you prefer panel/ group events, festivals, solo readings? What do you hope to get out of author events (either as a reader or an author), and what do you actually experience? Leave a comment here or drop me an email with your thoughts, and I may quote you in an upcoming post in this series!
A Leila Sales book event over a Johnny Depp premiere? Yes, please!


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Behind the BLUE VOYAGE book trailer!

I'm delighted to be able to share the book trailer for BLUE VOYAGE at last! Young Adult Books Center premiered it last week, and they are running a giveaway for three more weeks. (If you go to their site, you can enter to win a signed copy!)

Before you view the trailer here, though, I'd like to introduce you to the talented person who put it together! Her name is Yoshi Makishima, and she's a Boston-based filmmaker, animator and writer. She's also our Visuals Editor over at YARN (Young Adult Review Network). You can see some of her work across genres at her online portfolio, and, of course, on YARN -- pretty much every image you see there was selected or in some cases created by Yoshi.

So you may be wondering (whether you're a reader or a writer) -- why hire someone to do a book trailer? There are lots of tutorials out there for creating a trailer, and even some snazzy trailer templates available on the Mac. If you're savvy about finding (legal) stock photos and visuals, or talented enough to create your own, you can create a trailer for next to nothing or even free.

As with my last two book trailers, I chose to hire a producer, however, because I had a vision for the trailer and a lack of skill -- and spare time -- to make the product match my vision. Every time I attempted to do my own trailer, I ended up with something that looked like a bad PowerPoint presentation. I secretly wish I were a filmmaker, but I'm not. This is a job I'm happy to outsource.

But it's still my book, and I like to have some creative input. For me, working with a book trailer producer is a fun, collaborative process.

For this trailer, as with my others (produced by different people), I started out by locating music that would give the right vibe for the trailer and the book. In this case, I searched stock video files on a number of sites (pond5, iStock photo -- which has audio too) until I found a good Turkish instrumental piece with an adventurous / mysterious feel. I wrote a script. I found stock photos and videos that would match the script. Then I gave it all to Yoshi and she made it so much better.

Yoshi found additional sound effects and music to layer in. She replaced my (expensive) stock images with cheaper or free ones, which brought the overall price of the trailer way down -- and back into my budget. She came up with the pacing (based on the script and the music / sounds) the transitions, and all the graphics.

I'm thrilled with the result -- I think it accurately represents and sets the tone for the book without giving the plot away -- and hope you enjoy it too! Here it is! (Also - if you're an author looking for a book trailer producer and might be interested in working with Yoshi, send me a message and I'll put you in touch!)





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