A Word on Review Posts

Most of you who know me or have been following my review posts over the last eight years or more know that I’m forever on the hunt for the next great read. I simply can’t get enough of picture books, and am also partial to a gripping YA read and a belly-busting, laugh-aloud mid-grade chapter book.

And being a bit of an over-sharer, I like to tell people about the more illuminating and memorable reads that find their way to my desk and ultimately my heart (my bookshelves are far too full to accommodate them). Because good words were meant to be spread…

I’ve been doing this with regular review posts, author and illustrator interviews and feature posts from some of your favourite kids’ literary greats and some shiny new talents too for the Boomerang Books Blog, for yes, over eight years and have no plans to cease sharing great children’s stories anytime soon.

However, roads bend, circumstances alter and new directions need to be taken at times. So, while you may notice a drop in the regularity of reviews on this site, please stick around for the odd post from me or visit me at Dim’s Write Stuff where I’ll endeavour to keep you up to date with all the latest and greatest releases in the world of Kids’ Lit.

There’ll be links to where you can source any reviewed titles and of course you can continue  to take advantage of the great discounts and service offered by Boomerang Books.

Till next, #ByAustralianBuyAustralian

Thank you all sincerely for reading, sharing, caring about kids books!

Dimity

Reading Resolutions

Book stackToday I realised I can no longer see my alarm clock over the stacks of books on my bedside table; from any angle, from any height.

It never used to be this way. I was always a monogamous, one book at a time reader from the age of six. Novel series might have come out in less lavish quantities than they do today but when they did flaunt themselves at me, I was firm, steadfastly wading through each new world one chapter, one cast of characters, and one story at a time. When the book ended, it was held and admired for a while, then placed reverently back on the bookshelf, before another was selected after sweet deliberation.

Not so anymore. I am a feckless and fickle reader nowadays. I acquire an unrelated selection of titles, pile them indiscriminately on top of one another, ignoring fine cover art and first release styling. I’m ashamed to say, some nights I hop from plot to plot, sometimes switching loyalties and resuming different relationships up to three times a night. Some titles stay pinned mercilessly under genres alien and repulsive to them for months on end, never seeing the light of the bed lamp or making it back onto the book shelf. For as capricious a reader as I am now, I am sadly not a fast one.

It’s not my fault I’m this way, not really. When reading anything and everything from school newsletters, body corporate minutes, seminar notes, bloggers’ posts, manuscripts (my own included), shopping lists (hardest to do because my hand writing is illegible), emails, and let’s face it, a few hours of essential Face Book updating consumes most of my working reading time, then I must be equally varied and adaptable when it comes to my leisure reading time; especially when leisure reading time often ends with a slap on the face by the offended title after I’ve nodded off.

Alas I wish it were not so. George Ivanoff’s recent pre-Christmas post on one’s holiday reading list, prompted me to examine that indignant stack of books. It made me realise that although I may have fine-tuned the art of reading more than one book at a time, miraculously not losing the plot, (so to speak), perhaps what I am reading deserves a little more respect.  Respect in the form of dedicated time to enjoy its individuality. Improbable but not impossible.

I have made no formal resolutions this year, apart from: write more, relax more, finish writing more, eat less, and cook more…you know how it goes. However my reading resolutions have now far exceeded any list I’d ever be allowed to take to a deserted island. I want to read more with my child, explore another foreign language, consume even more pictures books which for me is like walking through an art gallery, review more titles, and read at least half of the shelf of ‘keepers’ I’ve acquired and am saving for that ‘rainy day’. I’ve resolutely set a higher personal reading goal this year to accommodate book club must reads; I’m dreaming big. Plus I have made the odd commitment to myself to read at least one title of every author in the kids’ section of the library from A to Z; before I move onto to YA.

Deserted islandAs with a deserted island and being surrounded by water with nothing to drink, having too many want-to-reads and not enough time to read them is not the best equation for good health and well-being.  My lifestyle and career choice imply that I can no longer be an exclusive reader, committed to just one title at a time. Those languid, lazy days under a palm tree with book in hand (yes that was me once upon a time, ironically on an island) are long past.  But George, you’ll be pleased to know, I’m almost through the holiday-list!

What are your 2013 reading resolutions? Whatever they are, resolve to make time to enjoy them. The most shocking and silly FB post in the world simply cannot rival the escapism and beauty to be found in a good read.

 

Beyond the NYR12 vids

Last post I showed you some of the videos available from the National Year of Reading (NYR12) website and YouTube channel (see: “NYR12 vids”). But there are lots more videos out there.

NYR12 has not only promoted the joy of books and reading, it has also encouraged others to do so. And so many people across Australia have taken up that challenge — to spread the word and to promote reading.

Timothy Chan, an official Friend of NYR12, took it upon himself to coordinate a unique project — Love2ReadTV. He banded together numerous NYR12 Friends, getting each of them to record a video about the importance of reading in their lives. He has then edited those videos together into a series of webisodes and posted them to the Love2ReadTV website. There are three episodes, so far.

Episode One features Adam Wallace (author of Dawn of the Zombie Knights), Deby Adair, Mick Walsh, Morgan Schatz Blackrose and Meredith Costain (author of Bed Tails and the A Year In Girl Hell series).

Episode Two features: Nicky Johnston (author/illustrator of Happy Thoughts are Everywhere), Dee White (author of Letters to Leonardo), George Ivanoff (that would be me) and Juliet M Sampson (author of Behind the Mask).

Episode Three features: Peter Cawdron, Narrelle M Harris (author of Walking Shadows), Ron & Margaret Sharp and Alice Pung (author of Growing Up Asian in Australia).

And there are still two more episodes to go. But wait, that’s not all. There’s also a special librarians episode:

Go to YouTube and search for “National Year of Reading 2012”. You’ll find lots of other videos created by people and organisations to celebrate NYR12.

Do you have a favourite NYR12 video? Share it in the comments section below.

Catch ya later,  George

PS. Follow me on Twitter

 

Check out my DVD blog, Viewing Clutter.

Latest Post: DVD Review  — Doctor Who: Ace Adventures

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My rock star moment

Recently, I had a small taste of what it must be like being a rock star. I went on a four-day tour of country primary schools and was completely unprepared for the response. Excited kids, enthusiastic teachers, heaps of book sales and lots of autograph signing. I was completely overwhelmed!

I love talking about writing, particularly to the target audience of my books — kids and teens. School visits along with library sessions, festivals and other speaking gigs, are also an important part of my income as a writer. Over the years, I’ve managed to get a reasonable number of speaking gigs despite my lack of fame as an author. Many of these have been via recommendations — my abilities as a speaker rather than my notoriety as an author getting me the jobs. And most of the time, the audience would have no idea who I was prior to the talk. But slowly things have been changing.

Over the last couple of years, my Gamers novels have put my name out there. While I am still by no means a celebrity author, I do seem to be getting some recognition. The result is that I’m getting more speaking gigs. And some of the kids coming along to the talks, have either read my books or have heard of me. That’s rather nice.

But nothing could have prepared me for this particular country school tour. Sponsored by the Portarlington/Drysdale Lions Club, I conducted talks, writing workshops and readings at St Leonards Primary School, Portarlington Primary School, Drysdale Primary School and Clifton Springs Primary School. The response was amazing. Many of the sessions ended up running overtime as kids kept wanting to ask more questions. I don’t think I have ever signed as many autographs as I did over those four days. And I completely under estimated the number of kids who would want to buy my books. I didn’t take anywhere near enough copies with me. It really was my ‘rock star’ moment.

And the bookings continue. Last week I did two booked-out sessions at Doveton Library. In the coming week I’m heading out to the country again, this time to Balmoral Community College. Then further ahead there are more school visits, including a week-long residency at Mentone Grammar, library talks, festivals and the Australian National Science Fiction Convention (but more on that in the next post).

Of course, a lot of the credit for my continued bookings has to go to my speaking agent. Creative Net has been tireless in its promotion of me as a speaker.

Some authors look at speaking engagements as a necessary part of promoting, but not as a goal in and of itself. Me on the other hand… I love it! I’m passionate about my interest in reading and writing, and I love sharing that passion. Put me in front of an audience and it can be difficult to shut me up. 🙂 I love the fact that this is part of my writing career, and I’m more than happy to continuing doing it for as long as people want to listen to me.

Catch ya later,  George

PS. Follow me on Twitter

 

Check out my DVD blog, Viewing Clutter.

Latest Post: DVD Review — Danger 5

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Book Giveaway!

Want a free book? Well, here’s your chance. The lovely people at Boomerang Books have copies of my novels, Gamers’ Challenge and Gamers’ Quest, up for grabs. Follow the link and fill in the form for your chance to WIN WIN WIN!

This giveaway is in celebration of the recent release of Gamers’ Challenge. Remember Gamers’ Challenge? I blogged about it a couple of weeks ago (see “How to sell a sequel”). And now it is with much excitement that I present for your viewing pleasure, the book trailer…

This trailer was created by Henry Gibbens (see my previous post “Pushing Pixels with Henry Gibbens”), who also put together the trailers for my previous novel, Gamers’ Quest, as well as for Mole Hunt, a YA science fiction novel by Paul Collins. Although I loved the trailer he made for Gamers’ Quest, I’m even more enamoured with the new one. It’s more dynamic and has a greater sense of drama.

The music was again composed and performed by the talented Marc Valko (who happens to be my brother-in-law). It’s the same basic theme as last time, but more upbeat and techno. A great reworking of the original music.

Over the last couple of weeks I’ve shown the trailer to Year 5, 6, 7 and 8 students during a school talks. The reaction has been terrific! Lots of positive feedback. So I’m happy.

At the risk of over-dosing you all on info about MY NEW BOOK (can you tell I’m a little excited?), I have one last thing to tell you. Although Gamers’ Challenge has been available since the 1 September, it will have its official launch celebration this coming Saturday (17 September) at 12.30pm at the Richmond Library in Victoria. The book will be launched by Michael Pryor, author of The Laws of Magic series. If you’d like to come along, here are the details…

Book launches are a lot of fun to attend (although rather nerve-wracking to organise). There’s usually a couple of speeches, a reading, a bit of autographing and some drinks and nibblies. I was lucky to have had Richmond library host the launch of Gamers’ Quest a couple of years back, and now we’re back again for Gamers’ Challenge. In a library, surrounded by books… great atmosphere for a book launch.

Thanks for taking the time to read this post in which I’ve done very little other than blather on about MY NEW BOOK. Forgive me… I’M EXCITED! (I may have mentioned that already.)

And tune in next time, when I promise to blather on about someone else’s books. 🙂

Catch ya later,  George

PS. Follow me on Twitter… or I’ll renege on my promise and post some more about MY NEW BOOK. 😉

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How to sell a sequel

Last night I dreamt about my new novel, Gamers’ Challenge. I dreamt that it was released with a fanfare to thunderous applause. And then no one bought it. Stacks of books languished, gathering dust, as people walked by them, happily chatting amongst themselves, completely uninterested in even picking up a copy to read the back cover blurb.

Gamers’ Challenge was released yesterday. I’ve now had the dream, or variations of it, for several nights in a row (I’m hoping they don’t last too much longer). I guess it means that I’m a little nervous about my new book. Let me tell you why.

Gamers’ Challenge is a sequel. Although the first book, Gamers’ Quest, did not set the literary world aflame, it sold quite well and continues to do so. It also received quite a number of really positive reviews (as well as a couple of lukewarm ones and one fairly negative one). Basically, it did well enough for my publisher (Ford Street Publishing) to ask for a sequel.

Generally speaking, a sequel can have a tougher time out in the market place. Not everyone who bought a copy of the first book will have liked it enough to seek out the second. A sequel is also less likely to get reviews. Not everyone who reviewed the first book will necessarily come to review the second. After all, people move on… and in the two years between books it’s likely that reviewers for various publications have changed. And a reviewer who has not read the first book is less likely to want to review the second.

As a reviewer myself, I can attest to this. If I’m offered a second or third book in a series, it’s unlikely I’ll want to review it if I haven’t read the first. There are exceptions of course. If the series interests me enough, I may seek out the first book and then go on to review the sequel. But frankly, that doesn’t happen all that often.

Now, despite my anxieties (pretty normal for many writers), it’s not all doom and gloom. Gamers’ Challenge does have the potential to do well. It’s had one review so far… and it’s a good one! 🙂 I intend to promote my little heart out, to let people know that both it and Gamers’ Quest exist. And by promoting the new book, there’s a chance that the promotion will have an affect on sales of the first book. And if sales of the first book increase, then chances are, that a certain percentage of those buyers will also go on to buy the second book.

Then there may end up being a demand for a third book. And really, that’s why I’m so nervous about it all. You see, I have a third book all planned out in my mind. I’ve been thinking about it ever since I started writing book two. It just seemed to make sense. In book one my heroes are trapped in a game, but they don’t know it. In book two they are still trapped in a game, but they are now aware of it and are trying to get out. It’s logical that there should then be a book three in which they get out of the game, and find out who controls it and why. It would be the ‘big revelation’ book and I’m DESPERATE to write it.

But I need to wait. And waiting is hard! If sales of book two do not warrant a third, it would be rather pointless to write it. So I’m nervous!

I’m trying to allay my nerves by throwing myself into the promotion. I’ve got a stack of guest blogs and interviews coming up (three up already, in case you’re interested — here, here and here), and I’ve been doing school visits, library talks and festivals. There’s also a book trailer on the way. And with a bit of luck, I’ll soon be able to start work on the next Gamers book. I’ll keep you posted!

Catch ya later,  George

PS. Follow me on Twitterand buy my sequel! 😉

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GAMERS’ CHALLENGE

Gamers’ Challenge is the action-packed sequel to Gamers’ Quest by George Ivanoff.

Zyra and Tark are shocked to learn that they are not the only Zyra and Tark in the game…and in fact, Zyra has a daughter, Hope.

Now that Zyra and Tark have broken the rules, they can no longer play the game, but how will they find their way out of it? Now they have a new mission, to find The Ultimate Gamer who just might have the key to solving their problems.

For Tark and Zyra, life was literally just a game, controlled by the all-powerful Designers. But then they broke the rules and life got a whole lot more complicated…and deadly.

Pursued by a powerful computer virus they must locate the Ultimate Gamer with the help of some unexpected allies, and face their greatest challenge – finding a way out of the game.

And with the VIs hot on their trail it’s going to take all their stealth and ingenuity to escape. According to Professor Palimpsest, the VIs are some sort of virus and they’re not going to be easy to defeat.

Gamers’ Challenge has everything – dragons and knights (the sort of players you’d expect to find in a quest), and even zombies and unicorns.

Zyra and Hope whirled back to the doorway. As the row of zombies stumbled along, one of them stepped out of line towards Zyra. It held a dismembered human in its hand, blood still dripping from the end. And it was looking straight at her.

It soon becomes clear to Zyra and Hope that the zombies and other creatures in the game can see them, even though they’re not playing anymore – and this makes their attempted escape a lot more dangerous.

Gamers’ Challenge offers another thrilling ride for readers. It’s fast and fun and full of the same complex detail, and twists and turns that kids enjoy in a computer game.

There are all sorts of quirky challenges for the characters to face like the game of Sudden Death Pinball where you get hit by the ball and you die,

And once they find the Ultimate Gamer he’s not what they expected – and he has no interest in leaving the game because he says it offers him all the freedom he wants.

“The freedom to play. The freedom to win. The freedom to be whoever I want to be.”

But he’s not going to let them out of the game either unless they fight him and win. And what will that really mean for the victor?

Readers who enjoyed Gamers’ Quest will love Gamers’ Challenge and the new action-packed adventures of Tark and Zyra.

Gamers’ Challenge is to be released by Ford Street publishing on 1st September, and there’s an official Gamers’ Quest website at: www.gamersquestbook.com

Gamers’ Challenge is written by my fellow Boomerang Books’ blogger, George Ivanoff who blogs at Literary Clutter.

 

Literary speed dating with a sequel

Yesterday I attended the Macmillan Winter Sales Conference along with the team from Ford Street Publishing. Why? Because Macmillan distribute Ford Street’s books. And Ford Street will be publishing my new teen novel, Gamers’ Challenge, sequel to Gamers’ Quest, in September this year. (Actually, I got my advance copy at the conference. Exciting!) It was an odd, exhausting but ultimately fulfilling experience. So I thought I’d tell you about it…

Here’s how it all works. During the conference, half a day is set aside for a publisher’s expo. All the publishers who are distributed by Macmillan come along and set up on tables with their books and promotional material. And each publisher is allowed to bring along a couple of authors and/or illustrators. And then three hours of literary speed dating ensues.

Macmillan sales reps from around the country (and New Zealand) come along and visit each table in groups. Four or five of them sit at each table and the publisher and authors/illustrators get about 20 minutes to promote their books. Then the MC calls swap time and the reps move to the next table. And so it goes until each rep has visited each table.

The whole idea is that the reps become more familiar with the books that they will be selling into bookstores across the country. Given the number of books that are published each year, it is a real asset for publishers to have reps who are actually familiar with their books. And it’s easier for the reps to sell books that they know a little something about. So it’s a win/win situation.

It’s all actually a lot harder than it sounds. It’s nerve-wracking. It’s tiring. But also, ultimately, rewarding.

I was lucky enough to be invited by Ford Street, along with award-winning illustrator Anna Pignataro, whose picture book Ships in the Field (written by Susanne Gervay) will be published in February 2012. This meant that my book got a little extra time, as I was able to spend five minutes telling each group of reps about Gamers’ Challenge, how I will be promoting it, and why I think it’s a book that bookstore will be able to sell. And just as if I had been speed dating, I desperately hope that I’ve made a positive impression in my small amount of time — that the people I’ve spoken to will remember me; and that when they come to visiting bookstores, they’ll say something nice about my book so that the stores will want to stock it.

Like any author, I want my new book — my baby, that I’ve spent months labouring over, and that will now go out into the world on its own — to be liked and to sell well. And this sales conference was one step on the way to that goal.

But there’s still lots more promotion to go!

Tune in next time for a guest post from Hugo-nominated author Sean McMullen.

Catch ya later,  George

PS. Follow me on Twitter… speed tweeting, anyone?

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A Celebration of Books at the Ford Street Literary Festival

Last week I attended the Ford Street Literary Festival at Scotch College in Hawthorn and I really wanted to blog about this inspiring example of kids having fun with books and their creators.

(Pictured below are Jo Thompson, Meredith Costain and David Miller who got down to the bare bones of writing and illustrating at the Ford Street Literary Festival.)

What better way for an author to spend a day than in the company of other authors and illustrators and 175 enthusiastic kids and their dedicated teachers?

Graham Davey (champion of children’s literature in Australia) was the MC for the day and he kept the kids entertained and the day moving along smoothly.

Students from schools across Victoria from Years 5 to 10 gathered to talk books and writing with Paul Collins, Meredith Costain, Justin D’Ath, Hazel Edwards, George Ivanoff, , Phil Kettle, Doug MacLeod, Felicity Marshall, Foz Meadows, JE Fison, Liz Flaherty, Sean McMullen, David Miller, Michael Salmon, Jo Thompson and me.

It was fantastic to see kids enthralled by books and coming to an event like this prepared with enthusiastic and informed questions for authors and illustrators.

A book quiz challenged the kids to work together and share their book knowledge to win a box full of books for their school – and all competitors attacked the task with enthusiasm.

Then Michael Salmon (pictured right with Phil Kettle) did an illustration demonstration that kept the kids mesmerised until it was time for JE Fison’s launch of her exciting new Hazard River Series.

It was great for me to catch up with fellow Boomerang Books Blogger, George Ivanoff from Literary Clutter – and of course the entire group of inspiring Children’s  authors and illustrators.

After the quiz and author chats with students, we all moved to the auditorium to watch Michael Salmon work his magic.

Then there was the sales and signings where students could buy their favourite Ford Street titles.

The Ford Street Literary Festival was a reminder that there are so many great ways to celebrate books and what they can bring to a child’s life.

More short stories

I love short stories so much, that one post just wasn’t enough. So here I am, with my second post about them.

Blackwater DaysLast time I mentioned Neil Gaiman and Peter Ustinov as two of my favourite story writers. Let me now add Aussie author Terry Dowling to that list. He writes science fiction and dark fantasy with an absolutely unique style and approach. I have had to read some of his stories a second or even third time before finally having things click into place. Don’t let this put you off. Each and every story of his that I have read has been well worth the effort. Many of his stories are connected, dealing with the same characters and settings. He is probably best know for his Tom Tyson stories, amazingly vivid tales sets in a future Australian landscape, collected in four volumes — Rynosseros, Blue Tyson, Twilight Beach and Rynemonn. But my favourite of his stories are those collected in Blackwater Days, all set in an around the Blackwater Psychiatric Hospital, which begin with the following line:

“When shadows move in Casna Park and the wind is in the trees, I can’t help but see it as the most terrifying place in the world.”

To find out more about Terry Dowling, check out his website.

Although my latest book is a novel, I began my writing career with short stories. My very first book, published way back in 1999 (and now sadly out of print) was a collection of YA stories about life in high school, Life, Death and Detention. Even my current novel, Gamers’ Quest, is connected to short stories. It is based on “Game Plan”, a short story published in Trust Me!, a YA anthology edited by Paul Collins. After the novel was complete, I went on to write a further two stories about some of the characters, for the book’s website.

Last year, I had a story called “Photographic Memory” appear in the first issue of [untitled]. Early this year I had the great pleasure of launching the second issue. Now, as [untitled] prepares for its third issue, publisher Blaise van Hecke has dropped by to tell us a little about this mag.

I’d thought about starting up a writers’ magazine but soon put the idea away as being something too hard for one person. But when Les Zigomanis came to me at the end of 2008 and made the suggestion, I was more than willing to give it a go.

[untitled] was born as a forum for storytelling and a way for new and emerging writers to have a voice. This is our mission statement:

[untitled] has no pretentious literary aspirations. Nor is it on a crusade to ennoble some ethereal literary collective, or enrich the community – literary or otherwise. It doesn’t really want to change the world – sorry, but it doesn’t. Because for as unique and enlightened and even sublime as that endeavour would seem, it’s all been done before, it’s all been tried before.

It just wants to be about stories.

It wants you to forget every manner in which you’ve been conditioned, and remember what it’s like to read, to enjoy, and to escape.

The physical form of [untitled] is what has set it apart from other writers’ magazines that are on the market. Firstly, it isn’t actually a magazine because it’s pocket-sized and it has no articles or non-fiction. Call it a journal if you will.

I like to call it a pocketbook.

[untitled] is run purely on the goodwill of talented editors, led by Les Zigomanis, who give up their valuable time to read submissions and give diligent editing advice to new writers, all for no remuneration. We hope this changes as our reputation grows. With two issues out in the marketplace, we’ve come a long way in a short time. Our goals are to be able to pay the editing team and of course the writers for their stories.

In the meantime, the printing of the publication is funded by our business, Busybird Publishing & Design. Kev (my husband) and I do the entire layout and design. It’s very much been a matter of ‘pay the printer and cross our fingers that we make the money back’.

All that hard work is very gratifying when we get continued respect and comments on the publication (both its physical form and the quality of the stories). This is what Kalinda Ashton, recent recipient of the SMH Best Young Novelist 2010 and author of The Danger Game, has to say about it:

“[untitled] is a desperately-needed place and space for short stories at a time in Australia when most publications are eschewing that form. Courageous, curious and an admirable project”.

Now that we’ve had a taste for the publishing racket, we’ve got other ideas for future projects. Currently, we’re writing up a proposal for a book called ‘Journey’ which will be a collection of stories from men and women who’ve had experience with breast cancer. We’ll be calling for submissions soon and we’re aiming to have this out in October 2011.

Thanks Blaze. For more info about [untitled] and for submission guidelines check out the website.

And so, dear readers, this brings us to the end of the short story posts. All that’s left for me to do is ask you who your favourite short story writers are? Leave a comment and share your opinions.

And tune in next time to find out what I’ve been reading lately.

Catch ya later,  George

More book trailers — are they worth the effort?

Last time around I introduced you to a few of my favourite book trailers. I’ve got some more for you to look at this time. Plus, I also pose the question: Are book trailers worth the effort?

But first, let’s take a look at the awesome trailer for Scott Westerfeld’s Leviathan:

It’s a complex, beautifully animated trailer. But simple animation can also work. Take, for example, the trailer for Wardragon by Paul Collins. It’s not in the same league as the Leviathan trailer, but… Some simple animation, a bit of text and some stirring music combine to make an effective trailer.

This trailer has been online for about nine months, but it’s only had about 180 viewings. This begs the questions: is the time and effort (and possibly money) that is invested in making a trailer, really worth it, if only a couple of hundred people will watch it? This is the question I put to Paul Collins, who is the publisher at Ford Street Publishing as well as an author. Here’s his response:

“I think this latest publishing phenomenon is too young to predict how useful it is. Providing publishers/authors/illustrators can get their trailers done reasonably cheaply, or they can produce them themselves, I see trailers as yet another cheap means of promotion, much like blogging/reviews, etc. Truly inspirational trailers must cost thousands, but the viral impact is tremendous. So if a book trailer can fire up the viewers to send it on, then it can’t fail to promote the book. But looking on Ford Street’s YouTube channel, I see our most viewed trailer, My Private Pectus, has only had 536 views, and the second most viewed trailer sits at 436. How many of the viewers bought the book/s? Hard to quantify!”

Check out the trailers at the Ford Street YouTube Channel.

While the Ford Street trailers are counting their viewings in the hundreds, Leviathan is clocking up multiple thousands, as is the trailer for Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters (see previous post). It seems to be a case of big name authors and large publishing houses (who have more money to spend on producing trailers and promoting them) are getting the huge audiences (and huge sales), while lesser known authors and smaller publishers are struggling to get their trailers seen by more than a few hundred people.

Last year I had a book trailer created for my teen novel, Gamers’ Quest. It’s a computer animated video, put together by H Gibbens of Finger to the Bone. It’s had a little over 450 viewings. It’s not possible to know how many of these viewings have resulted in a sale. But for me it is more than just a video to be uploaded to YouTube. I use it during school talks and I also have it playing on a screen beside me when I do book signings. It has proved to be a great way to grab an audience’s attention and so has been an invaluable marketing tool for me.

I think that books trailers are now evolving beyond their initial intention. Just like the music video has become so much more than just a way to advertise a new single, the book trailer is also evolving beyond a simple marketing tool. It is becoming an art-form of it’s own. Just take a look at what the New Zealand Book Council have put together for Maurice Gee’s Going West:

Art? Or mere advertising? What do you think? And what are some of your favourite book trailers? Post a link in the comments section.

And tune in next time for even more amazing trailers.

Catch ya later,  George

The shameless self-promotion post

At the end of my last post I said that I would next be blogging about what my family and I had been reading. Well, I will… but not today. For today I’m slipping in an extra post — a post in which I shall shamelessly promote my book signing this coming Saturday.

As you may or may not know, I’m an author. In October last year, my teen novel, Gamers’ Quest, was published by Ford Street Publishing (to find out more about Ford Street check out the latest post on Kids’ Book Capers). Since then I’ve been promoting my little heart out. I’m exhausted but I’m still at it. Frankly, the whole promotion thing is way more difficult than the actual writing! But it’s a necessary part of the process, especially when you’re an unknown author (George? George who?) with a small publisher.

Click to see full-size image.

Gamers’ Quest – that’s my book in case you’d forgotten – is a science fiction, action/adventure with a healthy dose of fantasy thrown in. I wrote it with young teens in mind but it’s suitable for ages 10+. It’s the sort of book that I, as a Space Invaders obsessed teen, would have loved reading! I’m hoping that the current crop of computer game-playing kids will like it as it’s set within the multiple worlds of a sophisticated virtual reality computer game.

Gamers’ Quest has got it all — dragons, mages, lasers, drones, starfighters, a giant robotic spider, lethal shrubbery and even a bit of toad-flinging. Doesn’t that just make you want to rush out and buy a copy this very instant? Come on, you know you want to! Perhaps it’s time for me to shut up and just give you the signing details…

BOOK SIGNING — GAMERS’ QUEST
Come and meet George Ivanoff — author of the Chronos Award-winning science fiction novel for kids and teens, Gamers’ Quest.

Location: Angus & Robertson Ringwood bookstore (Shop L026a) in Eastland Shopping Centre, Victoria

Date: Saturday 8 May 2010

Time: 11.30am-12.30pm

To find out more about Gamers’ Quest, check out the website. And take a look at the trailer:

So come along and meet me. You can tell me in person how much you love reading my blog! Or you can get my autograph — it’s bound to be worth at least a couple of cents some time in the next 20 years. Or you could come along simply to heckle… “Hey George, is that a tumble-weed I just saw rolling past?”

Anyway… thank you, dear readers, for indulging my little lapse into self-promotion. I promise not to do it too often.  🙂  And sincere thanks to Boomerang Books.

Tune in next time when Literary Clutter will return to its regular programming.

Catch ya later,  George

New bloggers appointed at Boomerang Books

Boomerang Books has appointed seven new bloggers to its book content team after receiving over 90 applications from eager writers.

‘The standard of applications received was quite amazing and we found it very difficult to narrow the field down to a manageable shortlist’, said Clayton Wehner, Managing Director and co-owner of Boomerang Books.

‘It was even harder to settle on the final seven bloggers from a shortlist of about thirty.  In fact, we originally set out to appoint only five bloggers, but we couldn’t split a couple of the applicants.  It took us several weeks of deliberation to arrive at the final seven’.

‘What’s most impressive is the fact that the positions were only advertised via social media mechanisms and, in particular, Twitter.  The writing community is a close-knit one and news of the positions spread like wildfire through ‘re-tweeting’.  We were inundated with applications and we certainly didn’t expect to receive so many’.

The bloggers have already starting producing their own themed blogs on the Boomerang Books website:

The Book Burglar. Brisbane-based Fiona Crawford is a freelance writer, editor, blogger, proofreader, and voracious reader. She is also (unfairly) known as the Book Burglar due to her penchant for buying family members—then permanently borrowing—books she wants to read herself.  Fiona’s blog revolves around Australian books (mostly ‘lifted’ from friends’ bookshelves).

Kid’s Book Capers. Melburnian Dee White is the award-winning children’s and YA author of Hope for Hanna, A Duel of Words, Letters to Leonardo and Harry’s Goldfield Adventure. Her blog explores great children’s books and the people who create them.

Poisoned Apples and Smoking Caterpillars. Aimee Burton is a Canberra-based lawyer-in-training who still dreams of befriending unicorns. Her blog is her escape from reality, and hopefully it will inspire her to finish writing that fantasy trilogy she’s always promising her friends is “almost halfway” done.

Read up on it. Sadhbh Warren is a freelance writer and proud booklover. Her name is pronounced Sive – like five – an Irish name, easier to say than spell.  She lives in Sydney, writing travel and humour articles, and is always on the lookout for a great new book.

Literary Clutter. Bookish bloggings from the cluttered mind and bookshelf of Melbourne author, George Ivanoff. George’s current teen novel is the computer-game inspired Gamers’ Quest.

Perpetually Adolescent. Sydney-based blogger William Kostakis (who doubles as Boomerang Books’ brand manager) is an award-winning, twenty-year-old young adult fiction author. His debut title, Loathing Lola, was released in 2008.   His blog deals with all things YA.

The Smell of Books. Sydney-based writer and editor Joel Blacklock is Boomerang Books’ new tech blogger. He’s passionate about the possibilities Web 2.0, social media and ebooks open up for authors, publishers, booksellers and the whole book industry.

The appointment of the seven bloggers is part of Boomerang Books’ ongoing content development strategy.

‘Content is king on the web and we’re focused on creating something that is more than just a standard e-commerce website.  We want to become Australia’s favourite destination for book lovers – not just a place where people go to buy books.  We’re committed to producing quality, thought-provoking content and instilling a sense of community for our members and visitors.’

‘We’re really happy with our new group of bloggers.  We’ve got a good spread of themes and we’ve got representation across Australia.  All of the bloggers were champing at the bit to publish their first blog posts and the quality of the early articles has been fantastic’.

Boomerang Books’ new blogs can be found online at http://content.boomerangbooks.com.au/content/main/boomerang-books-blogs.shtml.

EXCLUSIVE: George Ivanoff Guest Blog

Let me start by saying that computer games are not the downfall of society, as we know it. Our world will continue to turn, society will continue to function, we will still play sports, kids will still go to school and learn, human beings will still interact with one another and people will still read books. Just like television did not result in the extinction of literature, computer games will continue to co-exist with the written story.

In fact, the two can go together quite nicely.

There are many book fans who like to play computer games. As a kid, I was obsessed with Space Invaders and Galaga (primitive by today’s standards) and these days I’m certainly not immune to the allure of the Wii (Snow Ride on Rayman Raving Rabbids is awesome). And I’m sure that there are many computer game enthusiasts who also like to read. At least I hope so … ’cause my new book, Gamers’ Quest, is set in a computer game world and I think it’s the sort of book that will appeal to teens who are into gaming.

When writing science fiction or fantasy, an author is often challenged with the task of creating an entire world. With Gamers’ Quest, I was not only writing science fiction (with a healthy dose of fantasy elements as well), I was also trying to tap into the world of computer gaming. The thing is… how do you capture the feel of a computer game within the pages of a novel?

Step One was to create a world with the pace and excitement of a game — a world in which danger lurked around every corner; a world with a variety of fantastical challenges and opponents, from powerful mages and fierce dragons to machinegun-toting guards and sophisticated security systems with trip lasers and automated drones; a world in which players embarked on a perilous quest.

This world then needed protagonists who readers could identify with … the sort of players they would want to be if they were playing the game.  Enter Tark and Zyra, two teenage thieves — good-looking, fast, clever, determined and skillful in a fight.

The book also needed to have a sense of fun — of not taking itself too seriously. So while Gamers’ Quest is not a humourous novel, it does have an element of tongue-in-cheek unseriousness (yes, I know there’s no such word … but I like it).

There are lots of little things I added to try and capture the computer game flavour. There are references to different classes and levels of player (knight second class; level 13 mage).

The first part of the novel is set within the computer-game world. It is non-stop action, and there is no sense of night and day. The characters simply progress from one challenge to the next, without sleeping or eating, with no real sense of time, until they reach their goal. Once the characters have crossed over into an ordinary suburban environment, I felt okay about slowing things down a little, allowing them to eat and sleep, and having a sense of days passing.

So, were my endeavors successful? Does Gamers’ Quest capture the feel of a computer game? Will gamers flock to bookstores, clamoring for a copy? Well, dear reader/gamer, that is up to you. The CG ball is now in your virtual court.

William’s note: As a gamer and reader myself, I have to say, that George really did capture the sensation of being inside a video game. There isn’t an air of “older person writing for young people” about the whole thing, which is great, because us young’uns, especially us cynical gamer young’uns, can smell a fake a mile off. Gamers’ Quest passed my test with flying colours, and it’d make a great companion for the new Mario game under the tree this Christmas. 🙂