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Book Trailer Rantiness and the “Black Feathers” Video

I don’t like book trailers.

Conceptually, I find them absurd. It seems completely obtuse to slap together sound and imagery to sell a book.

I don’t even mean this in a luddite way. I have an e-reader on which I read books. I don’t even bother to call them e-books, generally. As Eddie Izzard says, “I don’t have techno fear; I have techno joy! I LOVE technology!”

My issue with them, conceptually, has been simply that I don’t believe books lend themselves well to being explained through any medium other than words, whether written or spoken. Of course, if a book trailer was nothing more than a book’s author giving viewers a thumbnail sketch of why he or she believes you might should read their work, then I’d probably be interested in that.

The grown-up approach to things I don’t like has long been to just largely ignore things I don’t like. At some point, I realized it was a pretty adolescent thing to attempt to identify oneself by shouting loudly how much I found certain things distasteful. Certainly, in the battleground that is the high school years, there seemed to be some survival-based strategy to rolling the eyes at the mention of, say, Bon Jovi and then spending ten minutes bloviating over the myriad reasons any reasonable person would completely loathe Bon Jovi and on and on it goes until you feel fairly secure you’ve impressed everyone around you that you’ve outwitted the masses by seeing right through the relative inanity of Bon Jovi and, hence, establishing your superiority and worthiness as a peer.

How that didn’t seem completely transparent to me at the time, I think, fairly illustrates why I didn’t get into Princeton.

Now, I DO just ignore. I find it incredibly easy to avoid all the pop culture phenomena I assume my teenage self would have wanted to loudly distance himself from at any and all opportunities. I would have had to carry a podium with me to school just to deal with reality television and Twilight, I’m certain. Now, rather than needing to have an opinion on such things, my response is frequently that I have no opinion whatsoever as these things do not interest me, from what I do know, to the point of investigating to the point of me being able to offer a somewhat-informed position statement.

All of which is an incredibly lengthy way to say, “Yeah, I know I can just NOT watch them and move along, leaving them for everyone else to enjoy at their own discretion.”

Yet…I got lured and am feeling self-righteous about it, so I rant.

Oh, calm down. Only maybe six people will ever click this link, and none of them will bother to get this far.

Because I get their newsletters, follow them on Twitter, and dig what they do, I’m generally aware of whatever Angry Robot Books is publishing.

Because my TBR pile has long been holding up its end in contributing to the American obesity epidemic, I tend to not read the descriptions of all the new stuff too closely. Angry Robot, for those not aware, largely deals in what they call “genre fiction.” You know; it’s those books not about wealthy east coast families with deep, dark secrets and issues communicating or relating.

Unless, of course, the family secret is that they’re shapeshifters or something like that. Then, yes that.

Additionally, Angry Robot’s e-books are DRM-free. You either know that is a good thing, or you’re mystified at what I typed, in which case I could have just as well said they’re made of magic.

Ultimately what I’m saying is that for my particular tastes in story, it’s very easy to read book synopses at Angry Robot and think, “Oooh! That sounds fun.” This is not a problem except that I read only about one book a week, which is about how many they publish and, well, there’s a whole world of other publishers, current and past out there who’ve also put interesting books in my path.

Despite trying to largely avoid too much window shopping that leads to a growing TBR pile, one of the recent offerings jumped off the page into my conscious.

Does it jump out at you, too? Then maybe we should be friends because I’m a sucker for this kind of thing!

Of the three new releases touted in the April newsletter, I was already aware of two.

The third, however, stuck out not only for being the one I didn’t recognize, but also for a nifty-looking cover. “Black Feathers” had just enough to suck me in a little bit closer.

Further inspection of the nifty-looking cover revealed a Stephen King blurb praising author Joseph D’Lacey.

Now that I think about it, they could totally have some dude on staff named Stephen King who is not at all the man who single-handedly spurred my own personal interest in reading for pleasure, rather a guy who is paid to put together pithy bits of praise to put on Angry Robot books with his name attached and to otherwise keep his mouth shut about what he does in the publishing industry.

As I’m not generally one for conspiracy theories, I’m moving forward with it being the only Stephen King that would really be relevant to the conversation.

A click on a link delivered unto me a bit more information with the word “apocalypse” figuring prominently.

I’m a sucker for those post-apocalyptic stories. I blame Robert McCammon. “Swan Song” remains an all-timer for me.

Additionally, there is mention of “environmental apocalypse,” which brings to mind Paulo Bacigalupi’s “The Windup Girl,” which is another book for which I have deep feelings. Though, I sort of wish I hadn’t read it because with all the Monsanto stuff going on…it’s a little bit harrowing.

Top it all off with the fact Angry Robot prices their e-books below my psychological ceiling on the price I’m willing to pay for what is, essentially, an electronic document. This one, brand new, was listing at £5.49 which is…carry the one…do some fiddling…something like 83 cents?

Not really a numbers guy.

Ultimately, I was pretty much “in” on this book. All that would be needed at this point is the opening in my reading schedule.

All of this I have written to explain just why I bothered to watch a book trailer when I KNOW full well I generally am annoyed by them.

This morning in the inbox was a message from the good folks at Angry Robot with the subject “The best book trailer you’ll ever see – Black Feathers.”

Low bar to clear for me, of course, because I have seen but a few.

But they were talking to everybody, weren’t they? So my response was more along the lines of , “Pfffttt…come on. EVERYONE thinks their trailer has set a new standard, I’m sure.”

Opening the message, I noted they had already accounted for my skepticism, remarking that they realized their claim would sound ridiculous before going on to be a bit disparaging about the early days of book trailers.

All of this disarmed me JUST enough to then realize that, HEY, “Black Feathers” is that book you were thinking about getting!

Well, if I was willing to spend 84 cents pounds sterling quid British money Thatcher thingies, I could spare a few moments to watch the BEST book trailer ever, yeah?

And, quickly, I’m back in “I hate these fucking things” land.

This trailer starts with some vaguely industrial-sounding music for atmosphere. My immediate impression is “Nine Inch Nails” if they had really crap equipment and lack of imagination.

Between the music and the fairly dark image of a factory of some sort on an otherwise-barren landscape serving as foreground to a HUGE full moon, I figure they’re delivering an opening pitch like, “You’re kinda gothy and like the same dark imagery everyone else who shops at Hot Topic digs, yeah? But not like those Twilight kids, mind. No…not you. YOU are truly gothy!

To me, feels a bit condescending.

The imagery shifts to a few other things (A squawking crow! Dark, I tell you!), with some text. I’m not going to re-type the text because that would take too much effort, but it’s likely from the book as it’s written in what would seem to be a voice of a character delivering important information to other characters. The word “Satan” appears. Shortly thereafter there is mention of the “Crowman.”

At this point, about one minute in, maybe I have a vague impression of what the story is about, though I also read a few sentences about the book a few weeks ago, so…there’s that. But I’m a full minute into this trailer, and all I can think is that with a full minute of undivided attention, I could have read several paragraphs of information about the book rather than someone trying to deliver visuals and atmosphere to me, which I don’t fucking want in the first place because, when I read, that’s MY job!

Ultimately, I stopped watching not far beyond the minute mark when what appeared to be our “Crowman,” sporting an Abe Lincoln-style hat, stood up from the ground and raised his arms, primarily because I was still interested in the book, but was getting to where I was starting to second-guess it. That’s a loser of a prop for all, so…I bailed out. The stated length of the video is 2:11, which is hardly any time at all, unless you’re watching a video you’ve been told is the best in its class and, as such, you are expecting said video to get you fired up for a book. Then, it is an incredibly long time.

I’m certain the people who were involved in making this video put a lot of work into it. I’m similarly certain there is a plenty-large audience for such book trailers making the effort worthwhile. In all likelihood, I’m the lone crank spending part of his day bitching about the whole using-video-to-sell-a-book thing using the “Black Feathers” trailer as a launching pad. Clearly the publishers were excited enough by it to deliver it to me with some punchy hype attached. I hope it moves some units and everyone gets to raise a glass in celebration. I like pulling for books as a thing, which means pulling for them individually, which means pulling for all the emerging tools being used to promote them.

Just…don’t float something in front of my face telling me it’s the “best ever” and then have it be fairly ordinary (I’d find it hard to believe it’s much more than ordinary, even pigeonholing it into a category as narrow as “gothy trailer for post-apocalyptic story”), and I won’t waste an hour-plus of my day being all angsty about it. Cool?

And, Angry Robot and Mr. D’Lacey…I’m still buying the book, so we’re good, yeah?