Making the Book Trailer
by Greg R. Fishbone
Thanks to Shevi for having me on her site and for asking me to talk about book trailers, what they are for, how they are made, and why an author might want one. I'll also talk about the process I went through to make my video for Galaxy Games: The Challengers--which is here for your viewing pleasure:
I'm sure everyone is already familiar with movie trailers. They're what book trailers would look like if authors and publishers could afford A-list actors, CGI effects, a film editing suite, that one guy who does all the movie trailer voice overs, and the broadcast rights to "Far and Away" by Enya. Lacking the budget for those things, authors can still represent the visual and auditory "look and feel" of a book in a two-minute blast that will help readers understand that oh my god this is going to be the bestest book ever and I'm going to want to order it now, now, now!
Why represent a work of text and imagination in a format that might combine images, video, music, and the spoken voice? Because, like it or not, we live in the video era of an increasingly video world. Video rules the web, and even the most avid readers are more likely to click on your book trailer link than on a PDF excerpt of Chapter One--although, hopefully, your book trailer will create curiosity and demand for more information. Once a book trailer is made and uploaded, you can embed it on your book site, author site, Facebook page, and anywhere else you want. If you do a signing event or school visit, the book trailer can be an effective and attention-grabbing opening act.
The first step in creating your trailer is to assess your technology, resources, and applicable skills. You might have a video camera, a laptop, some family members who can act out a cheesy skit, and a friend who knows something about film editing. You can search Google for royalty-free music, inexpensive editing software, public domain images, and tutorials on video creation.
I did my first book trailer in 2007 for The Penguins of Doom, using screen captures of my own doodles on PowerPoint slides, so whatever you come up with is bound to be so much better than that! For The Challengers, I was lucky enough to have awesome interior art from my publisher and use of a slideshow editor that included music and animated transitions.
The next step is to write a script that works within your resource constraints to entertain and inform your audience. Keep the five W's and H of journalism in mind: Who is the main character? What is the story about? When and where will the book be available? And how can the reader find out even more information?
Feel free to raise some important questions that you don't answer, because your trailer should function as a teaser for the book without giving away too much of what will happen. The script should capture the feel of your book, as much as possible, including suggestions for the kinds of images and music you will want to include. For my book about sports and science fiction, I wanted far-out graphics and music that sounded like a sports broadcast.
Don't start filming until you have a script and an accurate inventory of the resources available for you to make the video. If you've done your planning right, the actual making of the video will be the quick and easy part.
Then comes the editing. If you're including text, is the font readable? If you're doing a voice-over narration, is it loud and clear enough? If you're using images, are they the best and most appropriate ones available to you? Is there some important bit of information you might have inadvertently left out, or can you tighten the video to improve the pacing? As a writer, you should know all about revision already--put those skills to good use!
The final step is to upload your video and send the link everywhere you can.
Congratulations! Now you can add film producer and director to your resume, next to where it says published author.
I had a lot of fun making my book trailer, and I think it works as an effective introduction to the Galaxy Games universe, but I would love to hear your opinions and suggestions in the comments section to this post.
Thanks for watching!
Greg R. Fishbone, Author - gfishbone.com - Twitter @tem2
The Challengers - Book #1 in the Galaxy Games Series
Puzzle Piece #16 of 31:
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