Our guest post is by Brooklyn James author of Vigilare (book #1) and Vigilare: Hell Hound.
BOOK TRAILERS are a relatively new concept, following the promotional success of the movie trailer. Without a movie trailer, advertised on national television, how else would we know of the latest blockbuster or quiet Indie film coming to a theater near us?
By virtue of movie trailers, we get an average of two and a half minutes to determine whether the concept, actors and overall theme appeals to our film palate. I LOVE a good movie trailer! One movie in particular I want to watch, REACHER, is based on the fantastic Jack Reacher novels by Lee Child. I was not aware they were making such a movie until I saw the movie trailer. From this movie trailer, I can deduce the film involves the city of Pittsburgh, a red Chevelle with black racing stripes, mystery, suspense and a kick butt anti-hero played by Tom Cruise. As a Pennsylvania native, a Steelers fan and a lover of all things with horsepower, the city and the car alone, are enough to stir my curiosity about this film.
Some authors and publishing companies have taken to promoting their books in much the same way, by virtue of a book trailer. Usually these book trailers are quite short, on average thirty to ninety seconds in length. From the modest to the grandiose, I have viewed book trailers of all sorts. Some even include real actors. I am inclined to believe most of these ‘higher-end’ book trailers are produced by larger publishing companies. As the majority of author produced book trailers I’ve watched simply depict images, illustrations, animation, narration and/or a musical score to get the general point across.
My curious nature winning out, I had to attempt a book trailer myself. After several months of imagining a storyboard, contemplating the worth of a book trailer in my promotional efforts and tracking down an illustrator, I’ve released my first official book trailer for my supernatural thriller trilogy, Vigilare: http://www.youtube.com/watch?
I hope you enjoy, as it took a good dose of time, and a little cash from my operating budget in producing. As most Indie authors, once I try something, I like to share with other authors, readers and inquisitive minds my experience, with the intent to offer some insight and my overall impression. For those of you interested, I have outlined below my experience in producing my first book trailer.
Step 1: I researched book trailers, simply by googling the term. I found numerous productions, from the most simple to what appeared quite complex. Some of these book trailers had very few views, while others, more popular, such as the Hunger Games and Twilight series had upwards of 300,000+ views. This is quite understandable considering their popularity and promotional machines. However, there were some self-published authors who attained reputable views, such as Ley Mesina’s ‘Reborn’ book trailer. ‘Reborn’ enjoyed 11,000+ views, and is a great example of a very basic book trailer, featuring a haunting musical score with only words and background images depicting the story line. No complicated graphics, animations or actors. ‘Reborn’ is a successful example of what an Indie author may be able to create on any home movie editing system, such as Windows Movie Maker. You can watch this book trailer here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?
v=HJm87xoZIqE Researching was enough to drive me to attempt making my own book trailer.
Step 2: Coming up with the idea, the storyboard, so to speak. I sat down with my book description, from the back cover of Vigilare, and began drawing a storyboard. I am no artist, so my storyboard consisted of stick figures and a general idea of how I saw my characters and their environment. Vigilare is a supernatural thriller, inspired by movies such as The Punisher, V, Batman and Sin City. It’s dark and comic-esque. Therefore, I figured black and white illustrations would suit it best. You know, the images one may see in a graphic novel or a comic book. I knew I was working within a budget, therefore, I figured I could allocate enough resources to cover 7-images/illustrations. Most illustrators will charge per illustration. From my research most illustrations range from $20-$70/each, depending on the detail and the time required to draft them.
Step 3: Once I had my 7-illustrations in mind, I began researching illustrators and graphic artists. Calling on an acquaintance from PR By The Book, here in Austin, Texas, I was referred to Jeff Hebert of AFD Studios, otherwise known as Hero Machine. Jeff has quite a nice portfolio. You can view his portfolio at http://www.jeffness.net or visit his site at http://.www.HeroMachine.com, where you can experiment with making your own superhero visuals. There is a Contact Us section on Hero Machine, where you can submit an email for inquiries, quotes, etc. Jeff and I met at a nearby Starbucks to discuss the book trailer. I shared with him my humble storyboard, talked about how I saw the characters and the city in general. I gave him a copy of Vigilare, so he could envision the characters, their motivations, etc. All of this was necessary to effectively convey what I had in mind.
Step 4: Jeff constructed drafts of each of the 7-illustrations based on my initial storyboard. From there we went back and forth over a period of a few months in locking in the illustrations, the characters and their mannerisms. Mind you, this process could have turned around much sooner…we simply did not set a deadline as both of us were busy with other projects at the time. We agreed upon our first meeting that this would be something that would resolve over a few months. Therefore, depending on your time frame, that will gauge the urgency of the book trailer production.
Step 5: After the 7-illustrations were finalized in their complete form, a decision which Jeff and I were in agreement upon, as both illustrator and client, Jeff transported them into a Flash program which is the factor that gives them their animation…their movement within the frame. I know nothing about illustrating and Flash animation. Therefore, this responsibility was Jeff’s, essentially the service for which I paid. Jeff exported the Flash movie as a Quick Time file for me. That was the end of his responsibility. To recap, I paid him to illustrate and Flash animate my 7-illustrations/images.
Step 6: From there, I took the Flash movie, imported it into my very basic, free, home Windows Movie Maker program compatible for my PC. In that program, I was able to add my book cover, titles, captions, transitions, musical score, narration and credits. I then exported my Windows Movie Maker file to the recommended YouTube mp4 movie, which I then uploaded to YouTube. This is the version you viewed above as the OFFICIAL book trailer for Vigilare.
Step 7: Weighing my odds. Time will tell as to whether the book trailer is worth the promotional expense. I’ve included the link on my Facebook fanpage, my Blog, my Website, Goodreads, Twitter, etc. I am currently looking into book trailer promotion services, to see if there is a way I can capitalize on the efforts in promoting the video. No one will know about it unless they know where to find it.
Obviously book trailers come in many forms, some produced completely by the author, others by large production companies. I hope you enjoyed the OFFICIAL book trailer for Vigilare, and my commentary here. My advice would be do what you can, and outsource the rest per your budget and promotional goals. As a singer/songwriter here in Austin, I am quite accustomed to the DIY mentality. However, seeing how I do not have the gift of illustration nor Flash animation, I outsourced what I needed to, while kicking in my own experience where I could. In doing so, it made the production of this book trailer affordable for me as an Indie author.
One more piece of advice: If you decide to make a book trailer, somewhere within your video or on the description section in the YouTube upload, make sure you offer the link where folks can find your book (ie. http://www.amazon.com/
If anyone has any questions or advice about book trailers (production, promotion, etc.), please feel free to join the conversation.
For those of you may want to see the collection of all 7-illustrations before Flash animation was applied to them, as you viewed in the book trailer for Vigilare, here they are (Illustrated by Jeff Hebert of AFD Studios and HeroMachine.com):