Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Creating a Book Trailer

By Anonymous-9

Book trailers sell books. To some people. I've never bought a book based on a trailer, but certainly I've been made aware of authors because the trailer brought their name and book title to life in front of my eyes.  As publication date neared for HARD BITE, (Oct. 25th) it was a given that I'd produce a trailer.

First, I had to write a script—one of those two-column things with video on one side and audio on the other. A few miserable drafts in, I chucked the cheesy voiceover in the trash and decided to go with just titles, images and music.  For a few months I floundered around trying to find an editor. My budget precluded hiring a production company, but I could squeak through writing and producing it myself, and paying an editor to cut the sound and visuals. I struck gold when I found Mark Oguschewitz of Los Angeles, a seasoned film/video editor.

Mark steered me in the right direction for pre-shot footage and still photographs that would suit my trailer script. The idea of a trailer is just to give a taste of the story, the feel of it. I soon abandoned trying to get anything complicated across. Shutterstock, iStock and Getty Images provided everything I needed. By far Getty had the best selection. It was also the most expensive (ouch). Shutterstock was the best priced.

Weeks of eyeball-busting viewing ensued, dropping samples in a "lightbox" (provided as soon as you register for free with the site), and then came the process of matching assorted visuals with the script. Mark advised that he could keep the price down by using "standard" quality footage instead of HD. I found a terrific horror soundtrack for $12. at

JT Lindroos, the cover artist, broke down the elements of the e-book cover and sent them  via an online dropbox. (This was all technologically new to me.) Mark then manipulated the elements to create moving images behind the "titles" which is what they call any printed text onscreen in the film world. In my case, the titles are quotes from T. Jefferson Parker, Brian Lindenmuth and Rebecca Forster about HARD BITE .

After working back and forth by email and phone, sharing ideas and images, I went to Mark's home studio and watched while he made a rough cut. I was amazed at Mark's sense of timing and knowledge of sound effects (acronym: SFX) , and how they added to the overall mood and ambiance. Mark linked the trailer from his website so Kyle MacRae and Allan Guthrie at Blasted Heath could view it. As my publishers, if they didn't like it, they weren't likely to use it, so it was important that they were onboard.

Kyle got back to me right away but Al was travelling in Italy and the computer he had access to just couldn't "read" the video. There was nothing to do but wait a few days until he got back to Edinburgh. Soon, I had feedback from far and wide. Each suggestion and concern was put before Mark and finally we were ready to go to final cut. My job was to go back to all those image websites and purchase licensing for the footage to allow Mark download access. We were on the home stretch.


As soon as I starting purchasing the still images a warning came up on one saying "For Editorial Use Only." That means it was forbidden for use in a commercial or for promotion.

The urge to bang head, pull hair, was avoided by a tiny margin.
Back to the drawing board.

With the launch date yawning at me like the black hole of doom, I resumed a search for images and sent free comps to Mark. (The image sellers allow you to download unlimited pics at no cost because they have "watermarks" on them. When you make a final purchase, then you download the watermark-free versions.)

Mark cut the new images in and sent me a link. Clunk. Thumbs down. The new images seemed lame to me and took too much time. Mark cut another version taking out the forbidden image. Not only did the sequence move faster, it worked fine. Mark also advised that we could make do with Standard Definition quality footage instead of HD. That saved even more. In terms of SFX, Mark had stuff at his fingertips like sirens and crowd noises to throw on the soundtrack as needed.

With the digital ARCs all ready to go out Sunday night, Edinburgh time, the guys at Blasted Heath were waiting for a final cut. Mark and I met Saturday morning and worked smoothly for a few hours. By the time it took me to drive from the Valley back to Long Beach, Mark promised he would have the final rendered and a link to send out.

I get home. No link. Call Mark. While watching one final time, eagle-eyed Mark had spotted that one of the titles was missing quotation marks. It had completely escaped my 100 rounds of proofing! (It's very hard to proof moving text onscreen. Note to self: Always freeze-frame from now on.)  So Mark quickly tore the trailer apart (again), made the correction and rebuilt. Saved!

By the time I got up for my first cup of coffee Sunday morning, Kyle and Al had new links up, the trailer downloaded, and the ARC blast email assembled and ready to go out to members of the press.

Now let's see if it sells any books...

1 comment:

Al Tucher said...

It's gonna sell one, anyway! It looks terrific.