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A Children's Book Author/Illustrator Tests The Waters of YouTube

by J. Kendall Reid
© 2008 - DonutChef.com
 

"There's an awful lot of picture books published every season", says Bob Staake, "so as an author you're faced with the challenge of hoping YOUR book stands out above the glut -- just a little."

As an award-winning author and/or illustrator of over 45 books, most for children, Staake is no stranger to the inner workings of the publishing industry. "The truth is", he says, "that when it comes to promoting their own titles, authors and illustrators have to be very proactive. It used to be that you'd depend on establishing some sort of buzz through a series of book signings, but I don't think you can depend on that today -- not in this digital age."

One thing Staake knows is "digital". He switched from traditional analog pen and ink in 1995 and began creating his art in Adobe Photoshop 3.0 (he still uses the same version of the program in 2008). His web site, BobStaake.com, debuted on the Internet way back in 1997 and soon became one of the first examples showing how an illustator could engage the new visual medium.

"I was on the Internet in the beginning", points out Staake, "and well before Amazon.com was only a dream in the mind -- and the garage -- of Jeff Bezos."

He's also seen the Internet grow, change, morph, and realign itself . "I realized", admits Staake, "that I had to do the very same thing -- unless I didn't mind being left behind in everyone else's dust."

To help promote his new picture book, 'The Donut Chef' (Random House - Fall 2008), Staake decided to try something a little different. He produced a thirty second video tease of 'The Donut Chef' with the intent of publishing it on YouTube, Facebook, and other popular blogs.

"It's delicate trying to pull it off", says Staake, "and you really need to treat the animation economically. Beyond that the video can't give away too much of the story or then it negates the book itself. Untimately, I think the video should be part commercial, part art gallery, and part low-key commercial. If you can pique the interest of a potential reader through the simple animation, maybe you can compel them to buy the book."

It's the first time Staake has created what amounts to being a movie trailer for one of his books -- and he says it won't be his last.

"A couple of my books are in film and tv development right now", he reveals, "and I think I have always had a solid understanding of how to stage a printed book theatrically. Reformatting it in streamlined animation is something I'm completely comfortable with."

Aware of the tough challenges from new media facing today's publishers, authors and illustrators, Staake looks at the effectiveness of the 30 second 'Donut Chef' spot and sees even greater potential -- one that could give him increased control over his creative output while tapping into new readers.

"We've all been assuming", says Staake, "that children's book stories need to be told page by page. But the future likely means that creators will be communicating with more readers less through the page of a book -- but through the glow of a monitor."

 

 

Credits:

Narrator: Paulette Fehlig
Director: Bob Staake
Script: Joe Flaff
Production: Sol Cohen
 
 
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