Wednesday, June 02, 2010

How To Make a Book Trailer

If you have a new book coming out, chances are you've considered making a book trailer to help promote it. Since so many people rely on getting information from the internet, and especially from video, a book trailer seems like a smart thing to add to your arsenal of bookmarks, postcards, booksignings, and other promotional items.

The cool thing is that book trailers are relatively new. You can be as creative as you want. Think outside the box and do exactly what you want to do. There are not many hard and fast rules. That said, I would warn you that there is one rule you should keep in mind: Do No Damage. What that means is your book trailer should not turn people off and cause them to avoid your book at all costs. Of course, you can't please all the people all the time. But you can certainly try your best to not be annoying.

There are many ways to tackle book trailers. My friend Simone Elkeles hired actors and a director to create a full out Hollywood style book trailer for her new book, Rules of Attraction. Check it out:

Pretty snazzy, huh?

Then again, not everyone has the money to spend on this kind of trailer. And truthfully, you don't have to spend any money at all. If you own a computer, you can make a trailer. I created my new trailer for Jemma Hartman, Camper Extraordinaire with my MacBook, my Sony camcorder, and a bunch of willing girls who love my book.

Here are the steps I took:

1. Came up with an idea. The idea was actually given to me by a fellow writer. It was, "Why don't you interview girls about their experience reading your book?" I liked that idea because my prior book trailers for this book were made before the book came out, and although they were fun and they captured the tone of the book, they didn't really tell you what the book was about.

2. Found willing participants. I emailed some friends and posted on Facebook letting people know I was looking for 8-12 year-olds who loved Jemma Hartman and who would want to be in a book trailer. I got a terrific response.

3. Scheduled the shoot. I had the kids meet me at a neighborhood park on a Sunday morning. I ended up shooting on consecutive Sundays due to the girls' availability and weather questionability.

4. Had the parents sign releases. I found a generic media release online and tailored it to what I needed it to say. Then I emailed it to all the parents and told them they had to bring it all filled out and signed to the shoot.

5. Shot the footage. I had the girls answer three questions: What is the book about? What was your favorite part? And who should read it? I also supplied snacks and drinks, autographed books, answered questions, and gave the girls cool rubber bracelets as a thank you. I wish I had been more careful about that pesky record/pause button. I lost one girl's entire interview due to this ridiculous mistake. Also, I wish I had shot more footage. If I had interviewed each girl multiple times in multiple locations, I might have come up with even better footage.

6. Edited the footage. I used iMovie, which is incredibly easy. True, I have experience with film and video production, but I swear, even a total rookie can use that software. The important thing I considered was brevity and getting a coherent message across with the right tone. Even though I had told the girls there was no guarantee they would make the cut, I felt strongly compelled to include each girl in the final video. After all, these girls are my fans! I love them!

7. Added music. I wanted my son to compose some original guitar music for the trailer, but he's an 8th grader and currently suffering from 8th Grade-itis, so he's not so interested in this kind of project. Instead, I used music from iLife. This is music that is copyright-free. Very important not to infringe on copyrights!

8. Got feedback. Before showing the trailer to the world, I asked a select group of people to look at it and give me feedback. This was incredibly helpful and led to me making some important changes.

9. Put it on the web. I uploaded it to YouTube and Facebook and told my publisher about it. Because they liked it and I had all the proper releases, Macmillan will put it on their site. Soon it will be on my website and on Amazon and any other place I can think of that features book trailers.

The entire process took less than 12 hours (approximately 2 hours of planning, 2 to shoot, 6 to edit, 2 to upload it everywhere) and cost me next to nothing. And here's the result:

Aren't those girls fantastic? I love them! And I'm sure hoping that the word will get out about Jemma Hartman, Camper Extraordinaire.


Lisa said...

Your book trailer is very sweet and definitely one of the better ones I've seen. It recalls Reading Rainbow in a very positive way.

I've seen a number of very painful-to-watch trailers. Most of them use stock images or even clip art in a slide show format, played at a glacial pace. Some of them were so melodramatic I laughed out loud. Not good!

What really bothers me is that I know some authors are *paying* for other people to make them book trailers. One of the worst book trailers I've seen cost the author $500. I wince every time I think of it. If you are paying your hard-earned money for a trailer it had better be darn enticing! I sincerely doubt that author has made $500 in sales as a result of that trailer.

Brenda Ferber said...

Thanks Lisa. I really appreciate this feedback!

I know what you mean about painful trailers. That's why I emphasized the Do No Damage rule. :-) I've seen trailers that have ridiculously long introductions with the production company's logo leading the whole thing! People will click away in about 3 seconds if they aren't interested. You just don't have time to waste. You have to be interesting right away.

Lori Degman said...

I'll vouch for Brenda's method - I went to a talk she did about this and within two days I had a book trailer I was very happy with. Great advice Brenda!!

Brenda Ferber said...

Thanks Lori!

Laura Ruby said...

I love this, Brenda! I may steal your "interview" idea!

-- Laura

Brenda Ferber said...

Steal away!

kea said...

Great blog, super ideas. Thanks for writing.

Brenda Ferber said...

Thanks Kea! I'm glad you found me!