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Saturday, June 30, 2012

Book trailers: where to begin?

Thank you to Huntress and my fellow UBs for letting me kick of my mini blog tour here at Unicorn Bell!

I just launched my first Kickstarter project last night. One of the most important parts of a Kickstarter project is the video. Projects without one have poor success rates. It does not have to be anything fancy -- the website has a cheesy how-to video of their own to assure you of that -- but it does need to be interesting, informative, and "you," as they say.

What you're doing is, essentially, query-pitching the whole world. Like a query, a book trailer needs to lay out the conflict, the main character, and what's at stake. It needs to show the viewer what to expect in terms of tone and style, too.

Use your query
One of the most famous texts in a movie, the opening crawl in Star Wars, is only 88 words long. Bear that in mind. Images are far more efficient, so save those words for what you can't get a picture of.

That query that you put so much work into is a good place to start. You've already distilled your story down to a conflict, a character, and the stakes. Those are what you want to communicate in your book trailer. Which parts are words and which are images, that's for you to work out.

This is how you work it out. A storyboard, in the movie industry, is like a comic book of the movie. Its purpose is to succinctly describe the camera shots and the movement of people and things inside those shots.

Write out your storyboard, from beginning to end. Use text, or use stick figures and arrows to indicate movement. This will force you to work out the entire sequence. It may help to jaunt over to YouTube to watch some trailers and try sketching out the storyboards for them as practice.

Finding photos and fonts
If you have drawing skills, if you have photography skills, if you have a video camera and a handful of brave friends, GO FOR IT. For the rest of us, there's stock photography, fancy fonts and compromise. The chances you're going to find the perfect image of your hero or heroine on a stock photography site is slim. (But hey, you never know.) So be ready to settle for general accuracy rather than specifics.

On stock photography: get an account, buy some credits, read the license agreement. You're making a video presentation, which on all the sites I've seen means you can use the basic agreement and pay only the listed price of the photo. The extended license is for photos you are going to put on something you sell, or other specific situations.

Out of the pay sites, I use istockphoto.com because while it's more expensive than some, the pictures are better quality. Out of the free sites, I use sxc.hu because it's been around for a long time and has a good selection. Though its search function could be better.

Fonts: there are a million free font sites out there. I use abstractfonts.com because I like their ability to sort by multiple style tags -- "handwriting" and "horror" for example.

Then what?
I'm going to need a second post if you want details about video editing software and basic animation techniques (do you want details?)

But here's the most important part: don't think that you can't. You are a writer. You already have an eye for detail and the ability to clearly picture what you want to communicate. To be honest, those are the two skills no book can teach you. The rest is just learning how to use the tools.

DISCIPLE, PART I: For Want of a Piglet, is a gritty fantasy romance. There will be six parts total. See the book trailer, the back cover copy, and a sample at  my Kickstarter project! Backers' gifts include e-books, promotional bookmarks, and paperback editions of the final novel.

This miniature blog tour is to promote the fundraising project. You can also stop by my blog for a full index of all the stops.


Tara Tyler said...

thats some great info! gotta bookmark this! thanks!

Donna Hole said...

Yeah, I'm pretty sure I will have to hire someone to do a book trailer for me. I'm not that creative with gadgets and things. But your post let me know how complex the process is.

I love dark fantasy - even dark romance fantasy. Your cover look cool; I like the bit about the piglets :) Very catchy. I'll check out your blog for the details.

Good luck on the kickoff tour.


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