bookcreativeadvertising bookheywhipplesqueezethis bookadvertisingconceptandcopy bookogilvyonadvertising bookstory bookteachscreenwriting bookgettingthingsdone bookchecklistmanifesto1 bookgrammaroftheedit1 bookgrammaroftheshot booksettingupyourshots booksixthinking bookfirstbreak bookessentialdruck
Promo Workshop

Recommended Books For Promo Producers

I often get asked what books are worth reading to get more information about promo producing and entertainment marketing.

The answer is, of course: anything you can get your hands on.

Which is just dandy. But one of the reasons I started putting together my training course in promo producing is that there just wasn't anything out there that specifically related to selling TV shows and movies.

The thing about promos is that it's a microcosm of the TV business... there's all kinds of disciplines involved in it. Which, as I say in my videos, is why people who love making promos love making promos: you get to do a lot of interesting stuff.

So, the books I want to recommend are all the ones I have read personally; the ones I have got something out of.

To make things orderly, I have categorised them into the various disciplines within promo production.

If you want to help me out, you can click on the book images to go through to The Book Depository and buy the book there.

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advertising copywriting

The closest relation to promos would probably be advertising copywriting.

The major difference is that advertising uses the TV medium to sell a product or service. In promos, the medium is the product.

At times, you may find yourself wondering how the creative method used to sell running shoes might transfer to promos... fair enough. But advertising is still the best place to begin your education.

Creative Advertising
by Mario Pricken


I need to make a point about this book: it's very similar to my creativity and ideation seminar. I have been doing my seminar since a couple of years before the book was first published. But that doesn't stop people drawing an association.

It was a couple of colleagues who first brought the book to my attention... in fact one accused me of plagiarism! The truth is, that my course and the book are derived from exactly the same places.

Anyway, whilst I truly believe the book isn't quite as useful (or as relevant to promos) as my seminar; I still whole-heartedly recommend it as a great starting point to learning how to think creatively.

It is a fantastic brainstorming tool, and one that will get you thinking in a very positive and productive way.

Just be careful not to copy directly from it, as so many copywriters obviously have. Once you are familiar with the book's contents, you will see rip-offs everywhere.

Hey Whipple, Squeeze This
by Luke Sullivan


While this is a book about advertising copywriting through and through; and you'll have to work hard to relate it back to promo production; Hey Whipple, Squeeze This is a really well-written and funny book which a provides a relevant and practical approach to the craft of creativity.

Advertising Concept And Copy
by George Felton


This book is getting a bit dated now. It seems to relate to advertising from another era... even if it was only a decade ago. It's still a great read and worthy addition to a brainstorming session, as it keeps its focus on good, old fashioned ideation. And that will never go out of date!

Ogilvy on Advertising
by David Ogilvy


If you're hot for the kind of advertising they make on Mad Men then this is your book. David Ogilvy was a British invader of Madison Avenue. He was also a consummate self-promoter... you can't even really be sure if the ads you're looking at are his creation.

At least Ogilvy's pompous style is everywhere. For example:
"Behold the conquering hero comes... and in a Vyella Robe!"

This book is still worth a look-in; because it's a study of old fashioned advertising basics; even if it gets a bit too prescriptive at times.

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Great screenwriters use certain elements in their screenplays to drag a viewer in to their world. It stands to reason that if you want to demonstrate those things, you'll need to know the basics of how they do it.

I teach an introductory course on dramatic structure, and these two books represent worthy places to start going further. I have read many, many books on screenwriting. These are my absolute favourites.

by Robert McKee


This book will be particularly worth the effort if you make movie promos and/or trailers. Story is written by the lectern-thumping Robert McKee. And whilst the so-called "master of the craft" hasn't penned any movie that I can find on IMDb, the book is still a really good read. I wish more of Hollywood would take his advice!

Teach Yourself Screenwriting
by Raymond Frensham


Don't let the generic title and el-cheapo design fool you. Teach Yourself Screenwriting is one of the best there is. Ultra concise, and super practical; it may just inspire you to get working on the next great movie!

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time management

Possibly the most important discipline of all.

If you think creative people are flappy, then you have a very different definition of creativity than me.

The most creative producers I know are the most organised. They have a knack at spending the maximum amount of time on the stuff that really matters.

Some people are naturally good at personal time management. For all the rest (like me) here is some very worthwhile reading matter.

Getting Things Done
by David Allen


We're not worthy! We're not worthy!
This guy is the guru of productivity. At times you may feel you want to punch David Allen's smug little face for telling you things you've known for years and have just been too busy to implement.

But dang nabbit if he just isn't spot on the money. And unlike so many others in the business/self-help category; the stuff in this book actually works.

Checklist Manifesto
by Atul Gawande


This book won't deliver results like Getting Things Done; but it is an impressive treatise on effectiveness. Gawande is a medico who wanted to see if there were things that could be done to reduce deaths in hospital. He ended up with a list of things that he recommended surgeons do before they operate.... a simple checklist.

Startling results begged the question: How could something so simple, so obvious have such dramatic results? More importantly, where else could simple checklists change things for the better?

Okay... even though promos aren't life or death, it's easy to draw the parallel and find meaning.

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I don't do any courses about editing, which is weird I suppose... because I have been editing for the best part of thirty years. Sure, editing is an important component of promo making.
I just happen to feel too many producers spend too much time on it.

The major editing software formats already have plenty of courses and tutorial information available, so there's really no need for another from me.

But I am happy to recommend this excellent introductory book that focuses on the basics.

Grammar of the Edit
by Roy Thompson & Christopher Bowen


There's a hell of a lotta jargon attached to editing. And whether you are editing yourself, or working with an editor, you are going to have to know the terms. This book will have you speaking like a pro!

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For all you occasional Spielbergs...

Grammar of the Shot
by Roy Thompson & Christopher Bowen


A lot of the content in this book can be found in Grammar of the Edit.
But this companion piece goes into more detail.

If you've got a shoot coming up, and you don't want to confuse your pans with your dollys, then this book is for you!

Setting Up Your Shots
by Jeremy Vineyard & Jose Cruz


An illustrated guide to all the ways you can boss your DOP around!

As well as the pictures, there's plenty of examples from well-known movies where you can see the shots for real... how they work, and most importantly how they edit together.

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Again, a hugely over-catered market, of which I'm going to suggest just one.

Six Thinking Hats
by Edward De Bono


Recommending this book is a bit of a cliché.
It's almost a "burn-after-reading" job.

But I feel compelled to bring this book to your attention. Everyone should read it once. Especially those managing creative people.

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There are three kinds of people who should read books about management:

1/. Managers;
2/. People thinking of becoming a Manager;
3/. People who want to be managed properly.

In my opinion, it's the third group of people on this list who are in the most need of studying the subject. If more people knew what good management was, the more pressure would be on companies to supply it.

There are any number of books on the subject, many are soul-witheringly awful. Here's two I have read and really enjoyed and benefitted from.

First Break All The Rules
by Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman


My kind of title! And one of the best about getting the best out of your team. This is a series of interviews with managers from a truckload of companies. So it's kind of a management speed-dating crash course.

The Essential Drucker
by Peter Drucker


A collection of articles written on the subject of plain ol' business management. Basics and essentials are covered in classic, almost stuffy detail... some articles are over 50 years old... but you quickly get the impression that this guy was born to tell these stories. Many management books are just a rehash of Drucker's original thoughts and words.

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Charley Holland is a content creator with 30 years experience in the TV industry. He is reasonably underwhelmed by social media, which is why you can find him on Facebook; LinkedIn; Twitter; Google+

©2013 The Charley Holland Agency