Monday, May 14, 2012

Book Trailers! (Part 1 of 2)

Whether at the bookstore, in the library, or online, I love browsing for books, and with the never-ending escalation of social media and the on-line experience in our day-to-day lives, book trailers continue to increase in popularity, though there’s debate as to their effectiveness in increasing sales.

Alex Marcoux, author and SEO expert, said, “Whether a trailer sells books or not, what makes a book trailer worthwhile is the traffic a video generates for the author’s website (if the video is SEO’d properly).” 

Bonnie Ramthun, author and RMFW’s Published Author Liaison, told me the book trailer for her middle grade novel The White Gates, “turned out to be quite useful in promoting the novel in schools.  Teachers show the trailer to the kids to get them interested in reading the book.”

Isn’t that what it’s all about?  Getting someone interested in reading your book and looking at your website to see what other books you’ve written?  A good book trailer does both and a great book trailer will be shared by viewers with friends.

Some publishers now generate book trailers for their authors, but if your publisher isn’t one of those, the least expensive approach is to design and create your own trailer.  Or is it?  Time is precious and you’ll need to learn new software.

Bonnie Ramthun enjoyed making the trailer for The White Gates.  She said, “I learned a lot while I was researching book trailers.  In my opinion, book trailers should be no more than a minute long, the length of a television commercial.  I used purchased music to avoid copyright issues from shockwave-sound.  I used iMovie on my Mac to create the trailer and the clips were shot by my son, Tom, a snowboarder.  I'll be doing a book trailer for my next series because I think trailers are an important marketing tool.”

While photos alone can be used to create an effective trailer, I personally enjoy the combination of live-action and photos and took a similar approach when creating the book trailer for Fogg in the Cockpit.  Using Windows Movie Maker software I blended photos with a 1944 gun-camera clip.  I did spend quite a bit of time learning the software and fine-tuning the duration of the images against the music, a process I thoroughly enjoyed.  One decision was whether to include text across multiple photos, and as you can see, for this particular trailer I decided to let the images stand alone, with just the opening screen, closing screens, and the first gun-camera slide providing text.

Fogg in the Cockpit:

I want to also mention the “special effects” that I created for Fogg in the Cockpit, and I’m not talking about the built-in options available in the software, where images can be made to fade, zoom in or out, and so on.  At the end of the video a P-51 taxis across the screen towing a blacked out screen.  This was done with Movie Maker and Photoshop, as I emulated the early days of stop motion by separating the P-51 image from the background, moving the fighter across the background screen a few frames at a time, and then creating a jpg of each specific image.  It took 160 jpgs for those few seconds, plus another 100 or so beforehand as I figured out spacing and timing.  Would I do it again, even though it was tedious and time-consuming?  Yes.  It was a challenge to see if I could pull it off, and I’ll use that clip in the credits on future (non-book) videos related to the 359th Fighter Group.

What about the images you plan to use in your trailer?  You should either own the copyright on those images or have permission to use them.  There are a number of royalty free sites, though some require that you give credit to the original artist.  Read and print-out their terms of use, or request permission if terms are unclear.  There are also sites where you can purchase the rights to use affordable stock photos.  Again, make sure you understand their terms of use.

Alex Marcoux explained, “While I was taking a spirituality class I was assigned a project, to do something I had never done before, and we were encouraged to step out of our comfort zone. It was then I attempted my first trailer, and Back to Salem was made with Cyberlink’s PowerDirector.  Since my novel Back to Salem had been made into a short film a couple of years earlier, I was able to use some of the raw footage from the film (courtesy of Atlantis Moon Productions) as well an original song (“Down to the Water”) which was recorded for the short film.”

Oh, and while I’m thinking of it, be aware that video size does matter when posting on some sites, though 100MB is the topset that I’ve seen most often.  My recent non-book related video was about 13MB and it was over two minutes in length, so I suspect it’s unlikely you’ll exceed the max

Next Monday we’ll continue our discussion about music for your trailer, whether you want a teaser trailer in addition to your regular trailer, and we’ll take a look at several professionally produced trailers.  We’ll also suggest sites where you can post your trailer.

Hope to see you next week!

By Janet Fogg, with Alex Marcoux and Bonnie Ramthun


Margaret Yang said...

Love all the different trailers. They are as creative as the writers themselves.

It's important to not that imovie and Windows moviemaker are not difficult programs to learn. I found windows moviemaker no more difficult than Microsoft word.

I made a trailer for my novel FATE'S MIRROR, just to see if I could, and posted it on youtube. Who cares if it doesn't sell books? It was still fun to make.

Bonnie said...

Thanks for a great article, Janet! I like the different artistic points of view for each trailer. The music for "Fogg in the Cockpit" was perfect.

Alex Marcoux said...

From my experience with trailers, the book trailer is almost as much a work of passion as the book itself. Thanks for including my trailer.

Peg Brantley said...

The temptation to do this is strong. Thanks for the article and advice.

Terry Wright said...

I'm a huge fan of book trailers. Whenever one comes around, I click on it, evaluate it, and compare it to my own work. I've produced a bunch of them for my web sites, 1-2 minutes long. However, the longest is about 3 minutes for one of my screenplays. I think of a trailer as bing a video blurb that could be on the back cover. A teaser. I write the script first, then pick the music on which I lay the photos and videos to achieve visual and audio timing. It, like writing, is a learned skill, and producing videos is FUN. I encourage everyone to try it. And thanks for the post, Janet, and your great examples. Looking forward to part 2.

Mario said...

Good stuff. Entertaining. Loved them all.

Patricia Stoltey said...

I enjoy viewing book trailers, probably because I've always loved movie previews. And yes, I've purchased a couple of books after seeing an excellent trailer. They work for me.

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