Going on the Account: Lights! Cameras! Dust Jacket Blurbs!

It’s been pretty quiet amongst the pirates; a news search online gets you more hits about the folks from Pittsburgh than those from Somalia.

It got so quiet, it became hard to miss this article in the NY TIMES about the 2010 Moby Awards for book trailers.

Yes, trailers.  For books.  With categories for low budget / indie books.

Like this one…

Lord almighty, how in the hell do I keep up with this?  It’s tough enough that I have to do all the marketing for the book I’m also writing by being my own press agent, taking on a one-man publishing enterprise while doing the father and husband gig and the job (FNORD), as they say in Austin…

And now I, the sole publicity department, have to contract out this dinky little production company, the one consisting of me, to do some film to get people interested in the book?  (I’m not sure I have the liquid capital needed to hire a professional shop for this, sorry.)  And if I’m doing a short film that highlights the book, isn’t the inevitable question going to be, “Hey, why not make a small screen adaptation?”

Is there a chance we’re losing sight of something here?  Maybe that we’re tying in McLuhanesque ‘cool’ media to ‘hot’ media with potentially self-defeating results, or that there’s a reason writers usually don’t star in their own screenplays.  (And no, you should not throw Matt Damon and Ben Affleck at me; you know where their true allegiances lie…)  And maybe if I was writing something so small in scale that the usual Sundance nominee would look like THE TEN COMMANDMENTS by comparison, then it might be possible, but c’mon!

Seriously, I draw pictures about as well as the Deepwater Horizon draws oil to the surface, so animation’s out for me.  Closest we could get would be with simple modeling tools, which means I could do a scene where the Casa comes down on the Gale using two Lego ships in the bathtub.  And yeah, typing that sentence is as lame as imagining it…

But over and above this sense of being shoved aside by a marketing trend is the futility that seems inherent in the task, going back to a point made earlier.  Once you find that you need visuals to promote words, you set yourself up for limiting your output by having to keep in mind, “Would this make a good YouTube upload?”  When the Buggles sang “Video Killed the Radio Star,” there was more than just flippant irony being presented; the effects of MTV on the music industry have been rehashed quite often, and serve as a warning for the folks who are excited about using video to promote books.

Already there are clear delineations between writing prose and screen writing, in terms of what works in one medium versus the other.  If we blur that further, where what goes up on screen well needs to be an essential component of the prose, we’ve ceded the medium and abandoned it.  And if all writing is writing for the screen, we end up with a much poorer, shallower body of work we can point to.

If anyone were to film a scene from the novel, it’d have to be someone other than myself.  I’d not say no, though I’d give fair warning as a I do above as to what’s involved here…

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