Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Don't be embarrassed by a bad author video. Don't waste money, either.

Yesterday I provided more than 40 tips for authors who want to make their own book videos ("trailers") and showed an example of a pretty good one. Now it's time to learn from some bad ones.

Many videos from self-publishing companies are overloaded with gimmicks that may impress newbie authors, but probably won't help sell books. There's often lots of zooming and spinning, terrible typography, juvenile clip art, music found in low-budget porn flicks and the videos are either too short to sell the book or too long to hold a viewer's interest. 

The video below, from sloppy/sleazy Outskirts Press, is typical. It suffers a from a bad case of the zoomy/spinnies and has bad grammar and weird typography. 

Outskirts produced one of the world's worst book videos (below). 

There is only one good thing I can say about this video: it's short, so the pain is over quickly (except for the lingering nausea). The script, the photography, the typography and the "slow dancing" music are all AWFUL. Outskirts charges an outrageous $799 for a pile of shit like this and claims it's "A $1,800 value!" (Actually, the proper word is "an," not "a," but don't expect good grammar from Outskirts.)

The company says, "Are you ready to take your book marketing efforts into the 21st Century? Be among the first authors anywhere to use online video marketing. The Book Video Trailer is like a movie trailer for your book. It's cool, it's hip, it's NOW!"

This video is NOT cool, NOT hip, and NOT NOW.

Outskirts also brags that "Our book videos are unlike any other book videos available, featuring Hollywood-style production values and a cutting-edge look and feel." 

It would be nice if there were no other book videos like Outskirts Press's book videos. However, the 'producer' of this crap seems to have studied at the Nelson DeMille Academy of Shitty Video (coming up next).

Even 'real' publishers can be involved with stinky, sloppy, sleep-inducing videos. The loser below is from Grand Central Books, part of Big Five company Hachette. Despite Hachette's backing the book, the video seems to have been homemade by author Nelson DeMille, or by a no-talent buddy. Someone at the publisher should have said, "Sorry, Nelson, NO WAY." 

It's over-zoomed, over-rotated, over-ellipsised, has mind-numbing music, blah clip art, terrible typography, asks questions of the viewer, yells "Read the book!" and has silly captions (e.g., "that was an explosion" and "the end" TWICE). The copyright warning and credits might seem funny in fourth grade -- or maybe not. There's even misspelling:

The all-text narrative goes on and on for three and a half interminable minutes that provide almost a condensation of the book, and then we have two more minutes of juvenile legalese (below). The last half-minute of the video is devoted to a warning that the FBI investigates copyright violation and that the potential penalty is a $250,000 fine and five years in the clink. Anyone who is stupid enough to copy anything from this abysmal waste of electrons is too stupid to know how to copy.

(below) Because of poor lighting on her face and a soft voice, heterosexual men like me may focus on Print On Demand Publishing Queen Heather Covington's cleavage instead of on her message.

In addition to being a "queen," Heather claims to be a "YouTube marketing expert." An expert should make much better videos.

Some viewers' comments:
  1. "Your video is very poor technical quality (grainy, frame rate is low and the visuals are lagging the audio. There is also buzz on the camera you are using from its motor)"
  2. "Thanks for the mammories!"
  3. "boooobieeees!"
  4. "Give me a hug!"
  5. "Nice tits babes n I love the blowjob lips"
Heather is not merely a queen and an expert. She wants us to know that she is also an entertainment journalist, publisher, author, motivational speaker, awards official, promoter and editor-in-chief; and that "HER WORK IS BOLD, PROLIFIC AND QUICKLY RISING IN THE LITERARY COMMUNITY!"

Heather's "first debut book," (can you have a second or 45th debut book?) Tekila Nika: The Forbidden Bronx Video Diary Tales has an Amazon sales rank below 10 million and the book attracted only one review in more than five years. So much for "quickly rising."

Heather says, "I plan to get this book into as many hands as possible who are willing to listen . . . ." I didn't realize that hands can listen.

She also calls herself  "Literary Diva," "The Literary Heat," "Babe Charisse Worthington" and "The Queen of Murderotica Suspense."

Amazing -- Heather is queen of both POD publishing and murderotica. SALVE REGINA.

An editor-in-chief and publisher should not write a book with unnecessary hyphens and uppercase letters, numerals that should be spelled out, "that" instead of "who" and ugh-lee justification. The book begins with a stupid sentence: "Babe was born in the poorest and most rundown ghettoS of the Bronx." You can't be born in more than one ghetto. 

An editor-in-chief and publisher should not write a book description for Amazon that confuses "pact" and "pack," includes sloppiness like "deadly murder," "covering a span of 6 years with cover design and art direction by Def Jam's Robert Sims," "WILL LEAVE YOUR MOUTH AGAPE and as told by Babe Charisse Worthington," and puts five dots in an ellipsis.

OOPS -- she did it again, displaying a leg as well as her chest. The video shown below has badly synced audio and video, mentions an empty website, and foolishly announces Heather's phone number. Is she trying to attract readers -- or dates?

It's easy to make a bad video.

Mengesha (below) unintentionally produced a left-right reversal of his video. You can read the book’s title more easily if you view the video in a mirror. Sadly, the bad advice in the video won’t be improved with a mirror.

(below) This video is a collection of free clip art and has waaaay too many transition effects from Windows Movie Maker.

The author's voice in the video below is so low that I have no idea what he said or what the book is about -- and I certainly have no reason to buy it. Computer "mesh" animations and wave sounds are silly and intrusive.

I am not convinced that book trailers are important. I invested five bucks in one from I got my money's worth, but I think it should be shorter.

I've long been a fan of evangelical doomsayers and bible thumpers. My first enthrallment occurred in San Francisco in 1961. The preacher sung-shouted, "If the good Lawd tells you not to wash your fee-it, you had bettah keep your fee-it dur-tee, my brothers!"

My hired preacher says he usually reads the Bible but has discovered another "good book" -- MINE. He says it might even save your life. (Watch the video to learn how.)

If you like the video, you'll probably like 
the book. It's available as a hardcover, paperback and ebook. Tell one. Tell all. Praise the Lord, and please praise the book. Amen.
This is the second "take" of the video and corrects two errors from the first one. Unfortunately, this time the preacher forgot to mention my name -- which is in the first version. It's annoying, but not a sin.

Keep in mind that in videos -- as in books, voicemail announcements and wedding invitations -- any time you try to correct an error you may make another one. 

Marilyn and I got engaged back in 1971, slightly after brontosauruses stopped stomping on the Earth. Her cousin Manny was a printer, and he offered us free invitations as a present. Unfortunately, they were printed with my father’s given name -- that few people would recognize -- instead of his well-known nickname. When Manny reprinted them, he got Pop’s name right, but he printed the wrong year.

We didn’t want to ask Manny for a third freebie or insult him by taking our business elsewhere. (He kept a gun strapped to his ankle and I used to refer to him as Mafia Manny although I had no real knowledge that he was in the mob.) The wedding date was rapidly approaching, so my future mother-in-law used a pen to correct the year on each invitation  It wasn’t elegant -- in fact, it looked like shit -- but it was definitely a rare collector’s item.

The imperfect video is neither rare nor a collector's item, and I don't think it looks like shit. Despite being a bit too long, previewers said it's funny, and that's what I wanted it to be. Maybe someday I'll get another one. Or maybe not.

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