Thursday, September 30, 2021

Rise Up, My Fellow Uglies!


Interesting question this week, and a timely one too, seeing as how all the video nonsense is here to stay.


I’m launching my new book next month, and the marketing campaign is being tailored to this new hybrid world. We’re still doing a book tour – but pared down – six venues as opposed to more than ten last time. But we’ll be filling the gap by doing a lot more online and international stuff. I’ll be doing online chats with US book groups and stores, media interviews and appearing online on panels at festivals as far away as Tasmania in Australia. So the video side of things is important and needs to be taken seriously. 

And that's where I have a problem. 


The first thing I’d say is, life is unfair, and if you’re ugly like me, then you’re at a disadvantage to naturally glamorous authors like my esteemed colleagues  Brenda and Jim and Terry and Dietrich, so you need to do whatever you can to level the playing field. To this end, start by going into your zoom settings and making sure that under video preferences, you set the ‘touch up my appearance’ toggle to maximum. I don’t know what difference this actually makes, but it makes me feel better and it’s free and it’s the best I can do until I can afford plastic surgery. 


Next – in the same preferences box, change your view to ‘mirror my video’. This essentially inverts the image so that it feels like you’re looking in the mirror. This feels more natural to me, and also I am slightly more handsome this way too. The only drawback is if you’re holding up documents or have a background with wording then all the letters appear backwards – like it’s in Bulgarian or something.


Talking of backgrounds – for a while, I experimented with fake backgrounds – like the covers of my book, or the bridge of the Starship Enterprise, but I’ve decided they’re rather cheesy. To be honest, I still use the Enterprise one when I’m doing a Zoom call and I can’t be bothered getting out of bed, but those are for non-book related calls. For book stuff, I always get out of bed. I often put on pants too. I tend to do important calls from my basement, cos the spiders that live down there seem to have better wifi than me. They even have ethernet, whatever that is.


So those are my tips for improving things for free. If you’re up for spending a bit of moolah, there are also a couple of other things I’d recommend. Investing in kit that makes you look and sound better are a good start. Marketing and publicity is part and parcel of being a professional writer. In the same way that you invest in a lap top or writing software, I think it’s important to invest in the hardware of videoconferencing. If you can, I’d suggest getting:


A decent web cam

I’ve got a 2 year old Mac Book Pro, so I thought the camera on it would be pretty decent, but I must admit, I didn’t realise how bad the camera actually was until someone bought me a stand-alone webcam. It’s a Logitech blah blah blah, plugs straight into the lap top and is pretty much ready to go. It’s amazing how much sharper and clearer the image is compared to the built in camera, especially in low light.


A decent microphone

Ideally (if you’re a man) you want something that makes you sound like Barry White lounging in a bath full of melted chocolate. My microphone – a Rode something or other, does a good approximation of this. It makes me happy.


A Ring Light to illuminate your face is probably a good idea too. The same effect can be achieved by shining a table lamp in your face, though this begins to hurt after about 30 mins, and after an hour, you feel like you’ve been questioned by the CIA and are willing to confess to pretty much anything,


No kids

This is probably a difficult one, but I find that having kids is detrimental to the quality of my Zoom calls. They’re always making so much noise that it’s hard to concentrate. So best not to have any. This will also help with your book writing productivity, sleep, finances and general mental health. If, on the other hand, you do have kids; do what I do, and lock yourself in the room furthest away from them.


I guess that’s pretty much it. Some people are born to be video stars. If, like me, you’re more suited to radio, just remember that looks fade, but you and me and Barry White will always sound like gods.

1 comment:

Susan C Shea said...

You'll do fine! Is the book just coming out the one that's not part of your series? I think I lost track. (P.S. Always name the book, dear Abir!)