Book Trailers and Corporate Clips

Book Trailers and Corporate Clips

What attracts the reader’s eye?  The cover, of course, and wise writers look to graphic artists for guidance with the book cover.  Yet how do we draw people to look at the cover in the first place?  Have you considered a book trailer?

You can write tens of thousands of words for a manuscript, but you can’t write a short script for a trailer that will be 30 seconds to a minute long.

Contract with us.  All you need to do is provide a synopsis / blurb and a few elements on a script questionnaire.

Stage 1: our preliminary script based on the questionnaire and your provided synopsis.

Stage 2: We can generate a completed film using MS Movie Maker, which we can upload to YouTube for you.  Once it’s up, you can hyperlink it or download it to anywhere.  Want it on a flashdrive?  $15.00 more (Sorry.  Cost of flashdrive.)

Stage 3:  Sound makes trailers wonderful.  We will select sound files that work with the tone of your novel.  Once you choose your file, we will add the sound file to the book trailer.

Cost of Services

  • 1st Stage Development of the Book Trailer :: $115.00
  • 2nd Stage Development of the Book Trailer :: $150.00
  • 3rd Stage Development of the Book Trailer :: $50.00 (cost of the sound file is not included)

The following are two Blog Posts that originally appeared on Writers Ink Books,  September 2016.

Book Trailers and Corporate clips.  What can I say?  They intrigue me.  I like watching brief videos that present books.

TWO CARDINAL SINS

1] a book trailer that goes too long.

Statistics claim that most people have a 15-30 second attention span.  This is true of me.  My attention span for book trailers, something that intrigues me, lasts about 35-45 seconds.  For the ones that aren’t interesting, I turn off somewhere around 20 seconds.

When I started researching book trailers, I found several interesting ones–but the ones that ran a minute and more totally lost me.  Totally.  Beautiful graphics, enchanting sound, intriguing words–but I clicked out before those trailers where halfway through.

Melissa Marr has a lovely one for Wicked Lovely by COS Productions.  You can see it here:

Wicked Lovely trailer  (You may have to watch an ad prior to viewing.  Sorry.)

Marr’s trailer seems to be PERFECT.  It runs about 40 seconds.

2] a NARRATED book trailer.

Please don’t.  Voice is such a powerful element when it’s done correctly.  Few people do it correctly.  It requires pauses and intonation.  And the voice itself must be attractive.  Unfortunately, most narration comes across as either flat or artificial.

Especially do NOT narrate if you are reading the text on the screen.  Please ~~ don’t.  In many meetings with presenters who read their PowerPoints aloud to the meeting participants, everyone cringes.  Then we get restless and turn off our attention.

THREE CARDINAL VIRTUES

Study video trailers that you like.  What you like about them will be boiled down to three elements:

A} Graphics

Most people use elements of their book cover design.  K.M. Weiland does this very well with her trailer for Dreamlander.  Examine the cover, then study how she uses the different parts to create her graphics for the trailer.

For me, Weiland’s trailer runs over a minute.  As interesting as it is, that length is beyond my attention range.  Her book seems greatly detailed in plot, however, so the minute-long trailer may be necessary.  You can see Weiland’s trailer here:

Dreamlander

B} Text

Limit text.  You want to present your protagonists and their opening conflict question.  The primary complications that drive the novel must appear.  Sparking curiosity is also essential.

Marr’s trailer does this.  Weiland’s does it.

Sketch about 12 key points to make.  Draft and draft and draft to keep the word count down and the interest level up.

C} Sound

Believe it or not, sound is the trickiest of these three elements.

Sound is so personal.  People listen to certain types of music and rarely are eclectic enough to accept other types.

The sound you select should also represent the tone of your work.  Heavy metal will rarely work for historical fiction.  Soft piano will not work for epics.

Problems with Voice

Narration, as already noted, can come across flat or artificially dramatic.  I personally don’t like it.  Neither of the book trailer options I have referenced use narration.  However, a nontypical voice or one that has a feature that stands out might possibly work.  Might.

“Featured” voices include accents.  Should you be tempted by an actor who can do a Scottish accent (or Irish, Cockney or Australian)?  After all, you might tell yourself, my book is set in Scotland.  I should hire someone–or get someone from the local little theater?

Stop.  Just stop.  Will the accent take away from the text?  Ask yourself this question before you find someone to do a narration for you.  Voice is personal.  If it’s not just right, it will turn away your viewers.  After all, most of Disney’s animated feature flops did not use people with distinctive voices.

If you’re desperate for voice, focus on the voices associated with characters in three or four of Pixar’s animated features.  Pixar is the whole package.  Voices (not actors) are selected for how well their cadence, timbre, and tonal quality match to the characters.  The old man in Up, Dory in Finding Nemo, Woody in Toy Story:  all of those voices evoke the character in tonal quality.

In my research, I cringed through several narrated trailers.  It’s hard to do voice well.  Please stop that idea at its birth.

Instrumental music avoids the multiple problems of voice.

But, you ask, where can I get music that is 30 seconds or 45 seconds or 68 seconds long?  Try audiojungle.

On the audiojungle website, you can search for music types and for various lengths. (You will first need to determine the length of your trailer before you decide on a music selection.)  The cost will range from around $10 to $19 for 30 seconds to a minute.  Support these indie musicians, and don’t infringe copyright.  They are artists struggling to make a living, just as you are.

MY EXPERIENCE

So, we decided to create book trailers for everyone here at Writers Ink Books.  We all want more promotions for our novels.  Book trailers seemed to be the next step.  I volunteered, and that was a four-hour learning curve.  Sigh.

I won’t go into the ins and outs of the software I used (MS MovieMaker) because these rudimentary helps are intended for the general user, and various software programs abound.  You can even use MS PowerPoint to create slides then use more software to transfer the ppt to a movie form.  I picked MS MovieMaker since the program came installed with the version of Microsoft Office that I currently have.  {(More detailed information will be presented in later blogs. Yippee !! )}

The four-hour learning curve had nothing to do with the difficulty of MovieMaker.  That was me and not the software.  To see what I have developed so far, here is the first video, developed for M. A. Lee’s A Game of Spies: a reasonable video following the first two cardinal rules of graphics and text, we hope.

A Game of Secrets

 

Key Fundamentals of the Clipped Script and Book Trailer

1st Key: ID the Product Being Sold

The world of filmed advertisements can teach us the first lesson when designing trailers and clips.

A mantra of film ad writers is to present the product name 4 to 6 times.  When badly done, this can be obnoxious.  When well done, it’s not noticeable but has subliminal power.

Product naming is basically creating an identifier for the marketplace.

If your book is part of a series—or a client’s company is part of a greater entity—you have another identifier to use.

So, the title at the beginning, the cover image, the series name, a repeat of the title and the cover image = 5 identifiers.

2nd Key: Focus Points

You can select several methods of having focus points.  Many people use the III-Act / Plot.  Some use the key events from Freytag’s Pyramid.  For the trailer, it may work better to consider four parts.

If you intend to add music, this might create an unconscious connection, as music—even short clips—seem to develop through a three- or four-step progress:  opening interest, the exposition (exposing) of the primary melodies (your characters), the development of the primaries (re-developed and intermingled), and the recapitulation (the primaries strengthened to a crescendo / the climax).

We can adapt this musical form to a trailer or corporate clip:

1st ¼ = introduction: set up and characters and suspense

1, Start with an identifier: title or series name or cover image.

2. Give a quick glimpse of the story: keep interest level high.  These are concepts, single words or phrases.  Consider elements of setting or conflict creators.

3. Present your characters: characters create connections.  Hook your audience.

2nd ¼ is the Midpoint = characters in action with the plot and each other

4. A sentence for each protagonist with their problematic situation or driving goal. Select only your protagonist or your hero & heroine;  strong secondary characters do not drive the plot. >> This may take two or more slides.

3rd ¼ = dilemma that begins driving to the end

5. What problem do the protagonists encounter? The dilemma should present the danger these characters are in.

4th ¼ = the question that must be resolved

6. Your conflict question that drives to the story’s end. Capture the tension in the last quarter of the book without revealing anything that happens.

3rd Key: Keep it Clipped and Short

Now is not the time to be verbose.  Now is the time to cut.  Concepts should flash.  Sentences should intrigue.  If these two points—flash and intrigue—are not working, then nothing else will shine.

I used to hate to write a synopsis for my novels.  How can a writer reduce 85,000 or 100,000 words to five little sentences?

Do it.  Cut it.

Cut it shorter.  And cut out extraneous words.

Cut verb phrases to the verb alone (“will be fighting” >> “fight”). Remove adjectives and prepositional phrases.

This is not the time to dress up your writing.  Give the bones of the story:  it’s the idea that first intrigued you before you fleshed out that skeleton and gave it heart and muscles.

Cut it to the bare bones.

4th Key: Meld Visual with Verbal

Your verbals will benefit from intercutting with visuals.

Examine your cover.  A realistic cover should provide two or three elements that can be cropped and manipulated.  Return to the Sept. 1st Blog:  Book Trailers and Corporate Clips to see K.M. Weiland’s Dreamlander trailer.  Examine how she clipped her cover image to create several working images for her trailer.

A good cover designer will create an evocative cover that enables aesthetic cropping.

An exceptional cover designer will provide banner alternatives for your cover image, to use for Facebook or Google or Twitter or bookmarks.  These alternatives can be used in your book trailer.

If your cover is too concrete (a headline of title and author and a single graphic, such as a man running), then find some images in the public domain that are capture the cover’s concrete feel or look (through color, through lines and shading).  If your cover is only headline words, images in the public domain will again be beneficial.

WikiMedia Commons has photographs and images in the public domain.  Search and see.

At the end of this blog is a book trailer using the cover design created by Deranged Doctor Design.  In addition to the cover design, DDD provided a social media banner that could be adapted for the book trailer. >> http://www.derangeddoctordesign.com/

You should anticipate showing your cover at the beginning and end of the trailer.  Expect to use one or two more visuals (cropped images or the banner), depending on the length of your trailer.

Using text over the images cropped from your cover design is also possible.  It takes careful positioning.  White words over pale background OR black words over dark background cannot be seen.  Your first ventures into book trailing may be benefitted by not placing text over image.

5th Key: Shaping It

Here is a template that will create a trailer running 30 to 45 seconds, long enough to snare interest, not so long that the audience rolls their eyes.

The items grouped in threes can be arranged within that section.  I do not advise moving them out of that section.

Slides/Cards

  1. 1st identifier, verbal or visual
  2. 2nd identifier, verbal or visual (cover image)
  3. Quick glimpse of story
  4. Character introduction (one or two slides/cards)
  5. Visual of characters on cover or an abstract visual or a social media banner
  6. Problematic Situation / Driving Goal (going to Midpoint of book)
  7. Another visual from the cover—focusing on a danger or dramatic element
  8. Dilemma (see E above)
  9. Major Question
  10. Cover and location to purchase novel. If the novel is part of a series, then state the author and the series on a separate slide/card.

6th Key: Timing

Don’t linger too long on any one slide/card.

Do time it by reading all the words aloud. We read aloud more slowly than we read silently.  That reading aloud will take into consideration those who do not read as rapidly.

Your visuals (unless you want them to be subliminal) should not flash past. Give your audience a chance to see but again do not linger.

A rich cover image would demand as much time as verbal slide/card.  Consider each element of a rich image as a long phrase to be read, and adjust your timing appropriately.

If your viewers want a longer look, they can re-watch your trailer.  It is better to have them re-watch it than turn it off because they’re bored.

7th Key: Sound

Work out the timing of your slides before you look for your background music.  While music is powerful, it will not sell your book.  Do not find the music then figure out your slides.

When you have a basic timing for your slides, look for a musical clip with that time frame (from somewhere like audiojungle  https://audiojungle.net/ or Envato https://envato.com/index.html ).  You can run a search based on time (thirty seconds or :30 seconds)

The opening sounds are as important as the closing ones.  The opening should grab attention but not startle.  Then music should gradually build.  The climax of the music should–hopefully–coincide with your Major Question (item 9).  The music should then trail off as the trailer presents the last cover image and the location for purchase.

Once you add the sound file to your trailer, adjust the length of the slides accordingly to end at the same time.  The music should die out on your last slide/card.

CAVEAT:  You can tinker your way to insanity trying to get the sounds’ crescendos and decrescendos to match exactly.  Don’t.

Sound should capture the essence of the story.  Powerful scores work with action-adventure and epic heros.  Piano and solo violins or cellos work with stories centered on relationship angst.  Mysteries work best with so-called epic or cinematic scores.

If your setting is strong—in Morocco or Greece or China—the music evocative of that culture will create intrigue.  Be careful:  the music should not dominate;  it should support.  Listen to several files before finalizing your purchase.

The Key-Ring

Your comments about our A Game of Secrets trailer will be appreciated.  If you would like assistance in creating a clipped script or a book trailer, please contact us for pricing options, dependent on the number of slides you wish to generate or the length of the book trailer you would like to have.