Helping put together a book has taught me a lot about the writing, editing, production, and marketing of a book. For me, this was learning by doing: trial and error. Especially error. Until recently, I’d never been much for that style of learning, preferring book learning to a hands-on approach. But a couple of years ago when we came up with this idea for a book on science writing, someone mentioned “book trailer,” and I knew trial and error would be a big part of it.
What on Earth is a ‘book’ trailer? I wondered as I volunteered to do one. Fortunately, Emma Marris (bio) had just made her own book trailer and could offer some advice. Gisela Telis (bio), told me making a video was like “putting together a puzzle instead of telling a story, and the puzzle is in multiple dimensions because it’s the narration but it’s also the visuals and the audio.” Cameron Walker (bio) further helped me to connect the process of video production with that of writing. She says she’s always tries “to write in scenes, but videographers’ distinction between the ‘A roll’—the person being interviewed—and the scenery and descriptive shots of the ‘B roll’ has stuck in my mind, and now I try to build that combination into my stories.” Cameron’s recent Cocktail parties for introverts video has some great scene writing.
I started collecting pieces of the book-trailer puzzle—‘A roll’ and ‘B roll’—at the 2011 NASW meeting in Flagstaff, Arizona. About a year later, I put our first book trailer together. At the 2012 NASW meeting, I gathered new puzzle pieces and so put together a different puzzle, finishing it this week.
In the process of making these two trailers, I’ve really come to appreciate trial-and-error learning. In part, that’s due to some patient editors, who have been willing to watch my errors and help me move on to the next trial. I’ve also come to appreciate why Academy Award winners take so much time to thank everyone involved: it takes a lot of work by a lot of people to make a video. As Gisela said, putting together a video is “overwhelming at first, but it is really, really satisfying when it comes together.” Amen to that.
Narrator: Thirty-five award-winning science writers. Three hundred years of combined experience. One indispensable book.
Kendall Powell: I think writing is a solitary process, no matter what kind of writer you are. And it all happens in your head. And to get better at it — to improve yourself — you need to get into other writers’ heads, and this book gets you into other writers’ heads.
Jill U. Adams: So when you read this book, what you’re going to get from me is confessions that I used to be afraid to share.
Douglas Fox: The one thing I wish someone had told me when I first started freelancing — someone did tell me, in fact, actually, lots of people told me, which is — talk to other writers, know other writers, be friends with other writers, hang out with other writers — and I didn’t do any of that for the first six years…. It’s been amazingly helpful ever since.
Sarah Webb: No matter what problem comes up, being part of a group of writers gives me the opportunity to be able to ask a question and someone else has been through what I’m going through and can give me the benefit of their experience.
Amanda Mascarelli: What do you say to a source when they want to read your copy? Or, how do you answer them when they want to change a quote?
Monya Baker: How to be confident in your own interests, how to try something that seems foreign to you, and to know that a lot of people have ventured out on that branch and been glad for it.
Anne Sasso: This book is a fantastic buy for any kind of writer, whether you’re a fiction writer, a freelancer, on staff — there’s something in it for you. What really sets it apart is the information about science writing. That you’re not going to find anywhere else.
Narrator: The Science Writers’ Handbook. PitchPublishProsper.com