Monday, October 31, 2011

Do you need film making skills to get a job?

Today Seth Godin explained "How to Get a Job With a Small Company."

His blog post is brilliant and workable (as usual). One of his recommendations is to 'learn how to produce extraordinary video and multimedia.'

For the past couple years I've been writing books and articles that teach people how to produce extraordinary video. My publisher, MWP is a good place to find books that teach all the skills you need. I am probably prejudiced, but think my own book Digital Video Secrets is a good way to get started. It may be the only book you need.

I've excerpted Godin's post, below, with notes in (parentheses) showing how each step applies to film making...

"1. Learn to sell. Everyone has sold something, some time, even if it’s just selling your mom on the need for a nap when you were three years old. A lot of people have decided that they don’t want to sell, can’t sell, won’t sell, but those same people need to understand that they’re probably not going to get a job doing anything but selling.
(To learn how to sell, look for books on pitching, marketing, acting and auditioning.)

"Small businesses always need people who can sell, because selling
pays for itself. It’s not an expense, it’s a profit center.

"2. Learn to write. Writing is a form of selling, one step removed.
There’s more writing in business today than ever before, and if you can become a persuasive copywriter, you’re practically a salesperson, and even better, your work scales.
(To learn how to write, look for books on script writing, story building and mythology for writers.)

"3. Learn to produce extraordinary video and multimedia. This is just like writing, but for people who don’t like to read. Even better, be sure to mix this skill with significant tech skills. Yes, you can learn to code. The fact that you don't feel like it is one reason it's a scarce skill."
(To learn how to produce video and multimedia look for books on documentary film making, editing, auditioning, casting, budgeting, cinematography, guerrilla distribution, directing and acting. For technical books on things like coding, you can't do better than the books, videos and conferences from O'Reilly Media.)

Friday, October 21, 2011

A book is like an iceberg

"A book is like an iceberg. 10% writing and 90% marketing." Jack Canfield, author of Chicken Soup For the Soul.

144 publishers turned down Chicken Soup For The Soul before it was eventually published. So far, the book has sold more than 10,000,000 copies.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Sixteen ways to sell out... your books

When my book Digital Video Secrets was published, I decided to keep promoting the book until the first print run sold out. That was three years ago. This summer we made it. Here are a few things I learned along the way.

1. Get 25 Amazon reviews as quickly as possible. It is OK to ask people directly. I usually say something like, "Please review the book and give it your honest review." I had to ask about 50 people to get the first 12 reviews of Digital Video Secrets.

2. Make a web page for your book. It can be as simple as a Google page. Include a brightly colored Buy Now button on the page. Make it easy for people to click the Buy Now button and buy your book.

3. Set aside a regular time to work on promotion. Perhaps one or two hours each day, or one or two days a week, whatever schedule works for you. Otherwise promotion can (will) interfere with your writing. Book promoting is an infinite series of possible tasks. Setting aside a time for promotion is a way to limit the job and keep it from taking over your life.

4. Search for bloggers in your field, and contact them. You might offer to write for them as a guest blogger. Start following discussions and leaving comments on their websites. Look for mid-level bloggers as opposed to superstar bloggers. The superstars are often too hard to reach. Start an Excel spreadsheet with the blogger's names, URLs, and a note about the content and popularity of their blogs. Keep going until you can identify the best 20 or 30 mid-level bloggers in your field -- and the next 100 - 200 with smaller followings. Find 5 new ones a day and within a month you will have over 100.

5. Restrict your social media promotion to the one or two programs that you are comfortable with. Don't be seduced into using a program you don't like because someone says it's good for promotion. For example, I don't really understand or feel comfortable with twitter, so I have not used it to promote my own books.

6.Social media promotion is really about having conversations with people. Use things like blog comments, email, Facebook, and LinkdedIn to start conversations with interesting people and organizations that you contacted when you were researching and writing the book. Send a few of them copies of the book. Ask them for Amazon reviews. Ask them to review the book on their blogs, and mention the book on their blog, Facebook or LinkedIn accounts.

7. Offer to speak at organizations, seminars and events that are related to the topic of the book. The goal is not to sell books. It is to start stimulating conversations with people who have an interest in the subject of your book. (This is tricky. It can be expensive and time consuming for little apparent return.)

8. Offer to speak to classes at Universities. Again, the objective is not to sell books but to start stimulating conversations with interesting people. The book sales will happen if enough conversations get going.

9. Post a downloadable sample of the book online, linked to a Sample button. Perhaps the first 10 or 20% of the book. At the end of the sample, put a link to buy the book. Kindle is great for this.

10. The first sentence of your sample should capture the reader. By the middle of the first page, the reader should be entangled in the story you are telling. Don't be afraid to use your best anecdotes in the sample. Give the reader one potato chip, or three! (H/T Jon Franklin)

11. Look for organizations that might buy the book in truckloads. Perhaps a nonprofit, or a corporation with a compelling interest in the subject of your book. Offer to sell them 5,000 copies or 10,000 copies at a reduced price that they can give away as promotional items. If they really like the book, they might pay for publicity and a speaking tour. You will be their captive author and star.

12. Look for the most active forums in the field. One or two will stand out above all the rest. On these forums you will find respected professionals (like yourself) who are commenting and discussing critical issues every day. Forums tend to be more oriented to problem solving and advice. Get involved and offer your hard-earned expertise in the subject that the book covers.

13. If you do not already have a detailed audience description, I'd take a day or two to write one. When you know exactly who you are trying to reach, the job of finding and reaching them becomes much easier.

14. Create a 5-7 word description of your book, but no more than 7. Less is better. The reason is to make it really easy for people to copy the description and a link to the book and forward the whole thing via twitter. My son tells me that many RSS feeds only show the first 7 words of a title or sentence. Make it EASY for people to copy and forward the description and link. The title and subtitle as it exists right now might be all you need.

15. Put a link to the book in the signature line of your email address. Include that link and the short 5-7 word description in every email, comment, and communication. Like this:

Tony Levelle
email: info[at]tonylevelle[dot]com
Digital Video Secrets The basics distilled into one essential guide.

16. Do radio shows. Buy a national directory of radio shows. Call the producers and offer to be interviewed. Take as many gigs as you can get, including those in small regional markets. The best shows for selling books are the hour-long interviews, but three minute clips are excellent. Remember, you never know who is listening. One person in the radio audience could mention book to the right someone, and make a huge difference. When an Internet radio show wants to interview you, their audience is--by definition--your niche audience.

Hope this helps. As always, feel free to comment (good or bad) and to contact me directly.

Fourteen things you can do to sell out

Fourteen things you can do to sell out has moved to a new address.

After additions and changes by readers, Fourteen things you can do to sell out has become Sixteen things you can do to sell out.

You can read it here.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Seven TED talks about filmmaking

The following seven links are taken from an excellent article by Nadia Jones at You can read the whole article here.

Seven TED talks given by famous filmmakers, producers, and directors.

1. Jehane Noujaim Wishes for a Global Day of Film: In this TED talk, Jehane Noujaim discusses the power of film and the potential it has to change the world.

2. Jeff Skoll Makes Movies that Matter: Discussing the things that inspire him and his dreams for the future, Jeff Skoll gives a TED talk about his media production company.

3. Deborah Scranton on Her “War Tapes”: Filmmaker Deborah Scranton discusses making her film The War Tapes and discusses what inspired her to create this experience.

4. Shekhar Kapur: We Are the Stories We Tell Ourselves: Shekhar Kapur discusses where creative inspiration comes from, while exploring his thought process behind the making of the film Elizabeth.

5. James Cameron: Before Avatar… a Curious Boy: Immensely famous director James Cameron reveals his fascination with the fantastic and the uncanny.

6. Morgan Spurlock: The Greatest TED Talk Ever Sold: Documentary filmmaker Morgan Spurlock discusses film as a means for discussing important societal issues.

7. J.J. Abrams’ Mystery Box: Writer, director, and producer, J. J. Abrams discusses his passion for “the unseen mystery” and how that mystery inspires his films.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Call Burner -- A Really good call recorder for skype

I use Call Burner to record Skype calls on my Windows computer.

Call Burner is a really solid product. Easy to use, and just flawless. I recommend it highly.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Finding an editor (Editorial Freelancer Association)

A good place to find an editor is at the Editorial Freelancer's Association.

Seth Godin (author of a dozen best sellers) wrote this about editors:

"For the last twenty seven years,every single movie that managed to win the Oscar for best picture was also nominated for best editing. Great products, amazing services and stories worth talking about get edited along the way.

"Most of the time, the editing makes them pallid, mediocre and boring. Sometimes, a great editor will push the remarkable stuff. That's his job."