17 September 2016

Book Trailer Anyone? #2

Following on from my last post HERE, a book trailer there will be. But as can be taken from this post’s non-appearance last weekend, there proved more to producing one than simply making the decision. It’s a job for a clear desk and a clear mind.

Let’s backtrack a bit. The main elements needed in creating a book trailer are:
  • software
  • images
  • text captions
  • music
  • a host for viewing the finished trailer

Going the DIY route does not mean purchasing a top-of-the-range software application. My Windows laptop came bundled with ‘Movie-Maker’; an AppleMac may have ‘iMovie’ lurking on its hard-drive. If you are intending dipping your toes for a test run, these will suffice. A search of the Web will flag other free applications available to download.

Having the software doesn’t get over the time element, not only of learning to use it but learning to use it well. It is one of the reasons I now rarely create my own book covers; I’m better at manipulating words than I am at manipulating images. But if I had the time I’d certainly give it a go.

Even with my tentative try, I learned a lot, and that knowledge colours future decisions. Advice: first, go onto YouTube and watch a few trailers. Make a note of the links to those you particularly like and those you particularly dislike. As I found, there’s a reason for this, so bear with me. Okay, back to your own.

A book trailer needs to be planned – storyboarded – to give an idea of the number of images and/or amount of video, plus the amount of text needed. Start with the basics and work outwards.

The priorities are the cover and the link to buy the book. Make that link short. Use Bitly or Booklinker or something similar, and alter the link to ensure it reflects the book’s title. Viewers won’t be able to click the link; they need to recall it. These two elements encompass your call to action. All else is the tease that leads to this.

The next consideration is the genre, and if appropriate, sub-genre. If the book is Romance, is it Comic Chicklit or Historical Drama? If Crime, is it Cosy or Urban Noir? This relates to the tone of the trailer, both in the types of images and the soundtrack to be chosen.

The text comes next. Even if video clips are used, unless you have the right sort of voice and can act well, written text is less problematic for the DIYer and cheaper if the trailer is produced by a third party. In the first instance take the book’s back-blurb / product description and cut it to the bare bones. List the sentences or phrases 1 to -- then put it aside.

Re-watch the book trailers, paying particular attention to the ones which catch your eye. Is there a common denominator? Watch them again and again; slo-mo the action and write the text in the order it appears. Are full sentences used, or is a sentence split? Into how many words? Did the text give a taste, or the entire story? Did it finish on a question or an denouement? Re-watch the ones you disliked. By now you should be getting an idea of why you disliked them. Moved too fast? Too many words? Music too loud, didn’t fit the genre? Each time you do this you are honing skills for your own.

Back to your own text. Does it stand scrutiny? Mine didn’t, and after another edit I binned the lot and started again with a different approach. Writing copy, and that’s what this is, proves very different to writing fiction.

From this point, for me, it became a two-handed search: for the images to go with the words, and editing the words yet again to go with the images. If you have an account with one of the larger royalty-free image distributors, such as Shutterstock or DepositPhotos which charge for their downloads, now is the time to open a lightbox on site and begin trawling for suitable images to longlist. If you’re looking for total freebies you’ll have less of a choice, but try Pixabay or Morguefile. Read the instructions and fulfil the conditions. Remember, you can’t just use any image you find on the internet. Most are copyrighted, just as your book will be copyright to you. And we hate our work being pirated, don’t we? The bigger distributors use digital robots to sweep the internet for their wares, and they don’t just issue ‘take down’ notices, they issue expensive invoices.

With a longlist of possible images to complement my book’s cover and genre, I turned my attention to background music. Search something like free music clips for videos and a whole new, and *enormous* world opens up. Again, read the instructions and fulfil the conditions: some need crediting via a Creative Commons attribution.

However, it was here that I drew the line. I simply couldn’t afford the time necessary to DIY. So I shall be looking for a third party producer to fulfil the promise – cheaply yet effectively. Then I shall look to create an account with YouTube to host the trailer.

AMENDED: And I did. Read all about it on Book Trailer Anyone? #3 Result!

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