Planning my picture book video.
I like watching book videos. I can
waste spend hours on YouTube (in the name of research, you understand). There is such a vast range of styles and variation in quality, from professional movie standard productions down to the most basic, obviously home-made, pan-around-a-stock-picture efforts. I love them all.
I always intended on having a video for Better Buckle Up and Things Evie Eats and creating a video for a picture book is easier than creating one for a text-only book because you already have the visuals sorted. But I had a limited budget to work with, so I had to do a lot of planning to get the job I wanted at a price I could afford.
1) Teaser type trailer v complete reading?
The video for Baby Bear by Kadir Nelson is worthy of a Disney movie. It hints at the story but doesn’t tell it completely, just like a film trailer. This is some seriously nice animation but it’s way above my pay grade.
However, I decided on a complete reading of the books rather than a teaser type with excerpts. As a new author, it’s important that people get a feel for your books before they buy, that way parents can be sure what they’re getting. The full reading video can also be used to entertain children on car journeys etc.
One of the arguments against putting the whole book out is that, if people can read the book online, there is no need for them buy. However, my experience is that 1. children read a book they like multiple times and 2. picture books for children sell best in hard copy, so getting them hooked on a story might actually lead to more sales.
2) To see the person reading, or not to see the person reading?
My next dilemma in planning my picture book video was, did I want it to be a ‘story-time’ type video like Eric Carle in this reading of The Very Hungry Caterpillar?
Or did I want to just see the book, like this Usborne Alphabet Picture Book?
I tested several videos out with my grandchildren and found the ones they requested to watch most featured only the book. This surprised me, but they seemed to focus on the story more and were less distracted by the person reading it.
Rather than film myself turning the pages of the book, I decided I could use the file I created in Adobe InDesign to turn the pages digitally. I then used Camtasia, a screen capture software to record me reading the book and turning the pages at the appropriate place.
3) My voice or a voice over?
This was a real dilemma. I never like my Northern accent and paying for a voice-over artist on Fiverr wasn’t too expensive. I spent a long time listening to the various readers but, after recording the page turning, I decided I didn’t sound as bad as I thought. Twenty years of living in Wales has obviously mellowed my voice. And doesn’t Eric Carle’s accent makes the reading of The Very Hungry Caterpillar special? So, I went with me.
4) Intro and Outro?
Up until this point the trailer had cost me very little but I wanted the videos to have an Intro and Outro to give them a more professional look. I worked with PlainSightVFX, the people who did the illustrations for Better Buckle Up, and they used the idea from my website to come up with a graphic. The great thing about this is that I can use them on any video I make in the future. This will keep my branding recognizable too.
Wanna see it? Course you do.
5) Music: the food of love?
The finishing touch was the soundtrack. Music copyright is as big a minefield as photo copyright and again I wanted something to go over the Intro and Outro that was unique to me. The answer was to commission my own piece. I sent several pieces of music in a style I liked as a starting point. They also took the animations I’d had done so it fitted exactly. After all, there’s nothing worse than a soundtrack cutting off or fading out mid-phrase. I’m very excited about it all and the finished videos will be available very soon.
So what do you think about book videos? Love ’em or hate ’em?
Win an autographed paperback copy of “Things Evie Eats” on Goodreads
My giveaway on Goodreads for you to win an autographed copy of “Things Evie Eats” ends today, 23rd August.
Entry is free and open to people all over the world. Although you do have to be a member of Goodreads, signing up costs nothing and it’s easy too.
Find out more about “Things Evie Eats” here but this is what people are saying.
Adorable, charming, laugh out loud book for children and parents. Murboyd
Its a perfect combo of old and new styles with a delightful and funny storyline. P. Edwards
The winner will be chosen by Goodreads when the competition closes at midnight. So don’t hang about, click on the form underneath and a shiny new paperback could be winging it’s way to you very soon.
This is not strictly a bookish writing post. Sorry. Normal service will resume next week … whatever normal is … but this is something writers may still be interested in.
I recently signed up to Crowdfire. Crowdfire is an app with a host of handy features that help you monitor your Twitter account. And it’s insanely useful.
- You can turn off your Twitter email notifications so you don’t get a message when you get a new follower. Suddenly your inbox is so much clearer.
All you do is log in from time to time to check out who followed you, and decide whether you want to follow them back. And following them is as easy as clicking a button.
Awesome, right? 🙂
2. It also has a handy feature for finding accounts you might like to follow by searching similar accounts or even keywords which is great for building an online presence.
So cool 🙂
3. You can also monitor who unfollowed you and how many accounts you follow who don’t follow you back.
I never really thought about this before. In my naive little way, I assumed I’d done something to offend anyone who unfollowed me? That my tweets were not up to their high standards? They hated me tweeting about my books? And this is where I started to make some interesting discoveries.
- There are a lot of accounts out there trying to sell twitter followers. If I didn’t follow them, they struck me off their list.
This is fair enough. They weren’t reading my tweets anyhow.
2. There are folks without profile pictures and twitter handles they appear to have chosen by dropping their mouse on the keyboard. For example, @kiubydkgf. (Is this a language from Earth or a different galaxy?) These people haven’t posted one single tweet and yet they have thousands of followers.
Why is anyone following these peeps? Why?
I’m not sure what they are achieving with this strategy but they will not get a follow back.
3. And then there are the people who have a legitimate sounding profile, have made lots of tweets and have an epic amount of followers but who follow no-one. That’s right, no-one. And I’m not talking about some faceless corporation or some mega-famous person. I’m looking at you, author-I-never-heard-of.
It appears their game plan is: follow someone, wait until they follow back, then unfollow them immediately. Now maybe in the platform-building world this is a great strategy for … something???
There are a surprising amount of people using this method. But seriously, if you don’t want to read my tweets, I’m damned sure I’m not going to read yours.
Consider yourself unfollowed, weirdo.
To conclude, Crowdfire is a great app (and no, I wasn’t paid for this post) but it has thrown up some unexpected mysteries. If you can explain any of the strange behaviours I’ve described, please tell me in the comments below because I’m dying to know.
P.S. Don’t forget my giveaway on Goodreads for Things Evie Eats is still open for entries until the 23rd August.
It’s the time of year when little ones everywhere are getting ready for their first day at school. I hated my first days at school. Although I could read fluently, I wasn’t prepared for the noise and boisterousness of the other children. I’d never been to pre-school and had only one little sister. It was six months before I’d take off my coat.
Reading a book with your child can really help them to understand what to expect. Here’s a selection of some of my favourites.
You can’t go wrong with any book by husband and wife team Janet and Allan Ahlberg, and “Starting School” is a classic from 1990. The text goes through, not just the first day, but the whole first term, and it’s fairly comprehensive in explaining everything from hanging up coats to what lessons they might expect. It has elements of fun with the class rabbit and the reassurance that their parents will always return at the end of the day. The names of the children in the book are fairly multicultural but there are mentions of saying prayers in assembly and a Christmas play about Jesus, which may or may not be an issue for you.
I Am Too Absolutely Small For School
“I Am Too Absolutely Small For School” is a Charlie and Lola book by Lauren Childs which tackles the subject of first school days in a sensitive and more modern way. Charlie’s little sister, Lola, is due to start school but she isn’t sure she wants to, so it’s up to Charlie to persuade her. And he does a really good job. “Lola, you need to learn to write so you can send your Christmas list to Santa Claus. You need to learn to read in case there’s an angry ogre who won’t go to sleep until you’ve read him his favourite story.” Great fun stuff.
Now, much as I love this book, there is one thing that really irks me about it. One of Lola’s concerns is wearing a ‘schooliform.’ She doesn’t like to wear the same as other people. But this is tackled by saying, “But, Lola, we don’t have to wear a uniform at our school.” Which is not really helpful for children who do have to wear a uniform and I can’t imagine why the author would put in a concern and not solve it. A minor point but one to bear in mind if your child’s school has a uniform.
Friends at School
“Friends at School” by Rochelle Burnett is a great book. Described as, “A photo essay that shows pre-school children of mixed abilities busily working and playing at school, illustrating the true meaning of the word ‘inclusion,'” this book does exactly what is says on the tin. I loved this book. I loved the photos and the happy feel. It almost made me want to go back to school. If you’re only buying one book, make it this one.
My Teacher’s my Friend
Very often, a teacher can be seen as a scary, authority figure. “My Teacher’s My Friend: by P.K. Hallinan is a great way to rectify this. From the moment the teacher greets them in the morning, until the time they walk them to the bus at the end of school, this story goes through many of the ways that your child’s teacher is their friend. It also explains some of the ways the teacher makes school special in a gentle, reassuring way. An unusual take on the starting school book.
Starting School Sticker Book
The Usborne “Starting School Sticker Book” is another fun way to help explain the school day to your child with the added bonus of over 100 stickers. And how many children don’t like stickers?
I Love you all Day Long
My final choice is “I Love you all Day Long” by Francesca Rusackas.
Owen the pig is worried.
“But Mummy you won’t be with me.”
“That’s right, Owen,” said his Mummy. “But you should always remember this. I love you when I’m with you. And I love you when we’re apart.”
Not just good for first days at school, this book is a lovely choice for anytime your child might be suffering separation anxiety if you have to leave them.
Hoping you and your child both have a happy start to school.
PS Don’t forget my giveaway on Goodreads for Things Evie Eats is still open for entries.
Picture books about the beach.
August is here. The summer is in full swing. Whether you’re heading for the beach or just getting in the holiday mood, here are some of my favourite picture books to share with children who are just discovering the sea and sand.
Just Grandma and Me.
In this book from the Little Critter series by Mercer Mayer, Little Critter has to navigate the problems of a trip to the seaside including dropping his hamburger in the sand, the tide washing away his sandcastle and almost being blown away with the beach umbrella. The illustrations are beautiful and there’s plenty to talk about with your child.
Where is Baby’s Beach Ball
In this fun lift-the-flap book by Karen Katz, we help Baby find her ball, discovering shells, crabs and other beachy stuff along the way. Great for very young children.
Scaredy Squirrel at the Beach.
There are several titles in the series by Melanie Watt about Scaredy Squirrel and they’re all very funny for both children and adults. In this book our anxious little hero comes up with a plan to visit the sea in order to collect a shell to complete his own private beach under the nut tree.
And if you’re not going to the beach this year, Scaredy Squirrel’s guide to building a safe beach would be a great starting point to build your own 🙂
Over in the Ocean: In a Coral Reef.
This book, by Marianne Berkes, hits the spot in so many ways. Not only are the illustrations fantastic but the text is set to the tune of ‘Over in the Meadow’ and there is even an audio version of the book if you need some assistance with your singing. We see puffer fish puffing, seahorses fluttering and octopus squirting. Who could ask for more? This is a true classic.
The Seaside Switch.
The Seaside Switch by Kathleen Kudlinski is a great book which explains how the beach, ‘pulled by the moon and the sun,’ changes with the tides. Reading it before a trip to the sea will give you plenty to talk about and look for. It’s aimed at slightly older children, 5 and up. However, younger children will enjoy talking about the creatures in the pictures they could discover.
My final choice by Adam Gamble is a great way to end a tiring day by the sea. This board book goes through all the things you might do at the beach, fishing, splashing in the waves and looking at the wildlife before having a bonfire and falling asleep.
Whatever you do this summer, I hope you have a wonderful time. I leave you with my grandson discovering the waves. 🙂
P.S. Don’t forget to enter my giveaway on Goodreads for Things Evie Eats.