This is a post by Pavarti K. Tyler
I remember the thrill of the mix tape. The creating. The receiving. Sitting next to my double cassette stereo and laying out all my tapes/CDs in order to find the perfect combination to say exactly what I was feeling. In high school, music was one of the most important parts of my life. This was when I discovered the raw power of PJ Harvey, the desperate longing of Sinead O’Connor, and the pounding release of Fugazi.
I still have the mix tape Megan, my high school best-friend/crush/idol, gave me. I have nothing to play it on, and it probably wouldn’t hold up to the task, but having it and remembering the music that filled me with so much joy is still important. These songs hold the story of that time and place as well as the people I remember.
The fun of the mix tape is that you can take the listener on a journey, tell them something, make them feel, bring them to the final conclusion with you in one grand climatic finale. It’s a lot like writing a book, except this time you’re using someone else’s medium.
I first started making playlists for my novels as a collection of songs I liked to listen to while writing–musical inspiration. Over time I’ve found that those songs not only speak to me but to the reader as well. And like with everything else, there is an art to pulling the perfect playlist together.
First, you need a tool. Since most music is listened to online now, and chances are you aren’t going to mail your readers CDs, finding a free online tool is the way to go. I’ve found a few I like, but the best by far is GrooveShark.com. The reason for this is that you can not only save specific songs in a specific order but you can also embed the play list into your website or even in your enhanced ebook.
When considering a book play list, it’s important not only to consider songs you like, but songs that work with the theme and tone of your book. As an example here are the first songs from two play lists I’ve made:
Two Moons of Sera – “Ungodly Fruit” by Wax Tailor
Shadow on the Wall – “Call to Worship” by Baaba Maal
Right away you can tell that these are very different stories. I like both of these songs a lot, but each would not work in the other play list. As an introduction, the first song is essential. Here you create the world of the book.
“Ungodly Fruit” by Wax Tailor clearly shows you that this story is in another place and another time. It implies that by reading Two Moons of Sera you are going on an adventure outside of the world you know. In “Call to Worship,” you are firmly placed in the setting of the book. You are given the culture and religion the story focuses on as well as a sense of gravity – this is not a light hearted book.
If you listen further in the playlists, you will see again that there are recurring themes.
Here’s the Two Moons of Sera playlist. You’ll notice that the music is melodic, verging on loungey at times, and themes of water and breathing play strongly in the songs I chose. If you listen all the way through and you know the story, hopefully you’ll be able to hear Sera and Tor’s voices and some of Nilafey’s story in there too.
Alternately, Shadow on the Wall has extreme highs and lows woven together. The style ranges from Persian Rap to Melodic Trance and back again. Here my goal was to immerse the listener in the internal turmoil of the story rather than to tell a character’s story.
Playlists, like every other marketing tool, work well for the intended audience. YA readers especially enjoy them, and if you can get them to feel the pull of the music they will fall deeper into the world of you book, turning them from readers into fans and hopefully into advocates.
Engaging your reader in a multi-media way is difficult when you focus on only the words of the story. We’re finding that, as ebooks become more and more popular, readers are looking for the most interesting, most inventive add ons. Book trailers and exclusive content are great, but a playlist is something a reader will put on in the car or listen to while they’re cleaning.
An engaging play list is enjoyable and closely tied to your book, pulling the reader deeper into the world you’ve created.
I hope you enjoyed mine; let me know which songs spoke to you and which songs excited you, and when you’ve created yours, send it my way! I’d love to have a listen.
About this post’s author:
Pavarti is a member of the Novel Publicity Team as Marketing Department Director. She also provides content editing as a consultant or for her Novel Pub clients. Her unique experience as a dramaturge, both on and off Broadway, has provided her the opportunity to work closely with many playwrights and directors, allowing Pavarti to consider both the literary and audience perspective. Pavarti K Tyler’s novel Two Moons of Sera is a Fantasy/Romance and is being released in a serial format. Her next novel Shadow on the Wall is scheduled for release in early 2012. You can follow her on Facebook, Twitter, or her website.