My debut novel, Billy Bobble Makes A Magic Wand, is being published by Elephant's Bookshelf Press. It will be available as an e-book in December.
Why am telling this to a bunch of filmmakers who mainly come here to see if they can glean some tidbit of information on how their submission is doing during Dances With Films' selection process? One word:
In order for any independent work of art to earn its keep, people who are not friends or family of the artist must buy (or in the case of a painter or sculptor, hear about and want to buy) the artist's work. Let's think about that for a minute.
Right now on Facebook, I have 645 friends. If every single one of them buys my book, it will be a failure. By that, I don't mean it will be a bad book. This isn't about measuring good or bad art by the number of people who buy it or how much they pay for it. This about the artist becoming self-sustainable on their art alone. Filmmakers understand this more than most artists, since they have to raise a ton of money to create their work. Investors aren't likely to lose money more than once or twice, so making art that turns a profit is as important to the artist as it is the distributor.
Back to my book. How am I going to reach beyond the 645 people I can easily bombard with Facebook? How am I going to get complete strangers to shell out cash for my little story?
There's a 2-step answer: First, get good reviews. Second, get those reviews out beyond my 645 friends.
Luckily the literary world is full of people who love to read and write. Being dyslexic, I have never been one of those crazed readers, but I'm glad they exist. These voracious reader/writers often blog about what they are reading, so independent publishers like Elephant's Bookshelf Press find the most influential bloggers and beg borrow or steal reviews. Hopefully, these reviews written on widely read blogs will be seen by people who are not in my 645 friend-pool.
That's one way it works for books. How does it work for movies?
If you're reading this blog to find out how your film is doing in the selection process, you already know one of the answers. Get your movie into film festivals. Those laurels go a long way into letting strangers know that you made a real movie.
But, for many of you, Dances With Films has just sent a letter asking you how you're going to promote your Los Angeles screening. "What do you mean?" asks the inexperienced filmmaker. "I thought that was the festival's job."
It is, and DWF does a fantastic job of promoting… the festival. It's up to you to promote your movie.
That job will be easier once you have reviews, but do you really want your film to play to an empty house when the critics and distributors are there? I don’t think so.
There is no one right answer to how you're going to get people off their couches and into the theatre for your movie. Truth be told, if the cast and crew all come and bring a few friends, you'll do okay for your premiere. If you're satisfied with okay, then great.
If you want a career, you're going to need a line around the block. You're going to need us to add another screening because you turned away a whole second audience. Even that won't guarantee that your movie has a successful run, but it'll help. Every little bit helps.
I've said it before on this blog and others, but I'll say it again. Book publishing and movie distribution have become so similar that it's hard to tell them apart. Both are transcoding files for iTunes, Amazon, Nook, etc. Both are trying to tweak their poster/cover art so the thumbnail image will catch the casual shopper's eye. Both are trying get their metadata just right to make sure browse engines find them. Both are trying to dial in the right download price for the right time in the release.
Normally, in the off season for Dances With Films, I don't blog at all. This summer, look for entries about the independent publishing process, in the hopes that you'll gain some insight into the independent film process.
Why am I doing this? Duh! I want you to buy – and also enjoy – my book!
Thanks for reading.