No, don’t look at your calendar. This is definitely NOT Friday. I set the blog up to run Friday then had to deal with the first serious snow of the season in New Mexico. They said 4-6″ Here’s what I found…yeah, pretty darned big. In all the excitement of dealing with much more snow than anticipated (with my large collection of snow shovels on the other side of a yard knee to waist deep in snow) I missed checking that the blog had posted as scheduled. Sigh. Sure I was mentally out on a mountainside with my NaNo people but still…
To avoid further delay, take it away, Ed Aymar
How I Made a Book Trailer
There are different thoughts when it comes to the success of book trailers, especially because a lot of readers don’t even know books have trailers nowadays. Plus a well-done trailer can be expensive, and you don’t know if you’re going to make that investment back.
Fortunately, I’m terrible at managing my money, so spending a bit on a trailer didn’t worry me.
Had You Ever Done a Trailer Before?
I had shot a trailer for When the Deep Purple Falls (Deep Purple Trailer) (the prequel I wrote for I’ll Sleep When You’re Dead), and I liked how it turned out. It was moody and dark and fit the tone of that story. The only bad thing was that I had to tie a friend of mine to a chair in a basement for the photo shoot. Actually, that was more awkward than bad. But it ended up being a cool photo shoot and I worked with a good video editor who shot and produced the whole thing, and didn’t charge me that much.
When it came to I’ll Sleep When You’re Dead, I wanted to do something different. I had seen a couple of animated trailers and liked the look, and I thought it would work for my book. But I really suck at drawing and, even though I know some good artists, animation is a different field.
So How’d You Find an Animator?
I went on a few different sites for freelance graphic designers (eLance and Guru) and put in the project parameters – description, budget, etc. And I received a lot of responses, from designers all around the world. Some of them gave off a scent of scam, and others worked in styles that conflicted with what I had in mind. Eventually it came down to two designers, and I picked Ryan Schiewe based off a short film he had done called Sunday Corner Tap (Sunday Corner Tap). I imagined my trailer in a style similar to Frank Miller or Bill Plympton and Ryan was a fan of both artists and excited to work on the project. Plus he was a cool guy, and that was important.
If you’re going to hire an animator, make sure the person is a proven professional. Have their portfolio wow you. A lot of people will promise quick trailers at a small budget; I’d be wary of that. Find someone whose work you like, and then work out the budget. Like any business, check their references. Make sure, basically, that the designer has two qualities – he or she is good, and good to work with. Both of those are hugely important. The trailer will represent your book more than you realize. If you rush and accept substandard work from an uninterested artist, then chances are the audience will expect (and probably receive) the same from your work.
What About Music for Your Trailer?
I know a couple of musicians and reached out to Abby Mott, a singer I first came across when she lived in Baltimore (I interviewed her for my blog here: Interview). Abby sings in a lot of styles, and it wasn’t difficult to imagine her doing something that sounded like the more haunted songs from O Brother Where Art Thou or the alt-country styling of Neko Case. I broached her on the idea and she was excited, and agreed to work with me on the project. In a couple of weeks, she had written and recorded “When I’m Dead,” the soundtrack for the trailer. I loved it, sent it to Ryan and he was similarly impressed.
Of course, if you don’t know a totally awesome singer or have the money to pay for it, then let the Internet help. You can find royalty-free songs on a variety of sites. Personally, I prefer this one (Incompetech), but there are lots out there. The songs are free; generally, you just have to provide a credit.
How Long Did It Take?
Maybe a couple of months? Ryan set up a timetable and followed it without flaw (same with the budget). The only stumbling block we had was when it came to one of my characters named Diane, and that wasn’t on Ryan. That was on me. Diane is a 300-or-so pound hit woman, and the direction I gave Ryan made her more amusing than threatening. We went back and forth a couple of times, and he came up with a way to portray her that worked. Additionally, I originally had the house at the end in the country, and realized it needed to be placed in the city. I sent him a photograph of the neighborhood in Baltimore and, within a day or so, Ryan had sketched it perfectly. Again, work with good artists.
So, In the End….
Will it be successful? I dunno. I put the trailer out on the same day that my book was released – some say it’s best to have a trailer build excitement for a project, but I wanted people to be able to watch the trailer and immediately buy the book. If you hit pay dirt and touch lofty “viral video” status, then there’s no telling whether those views are going to lead to sales. Plus, think about movie trailers – how many great movies are known for their trailers? Not many, if any.
But a good trailer can’t hurt, and I don’t think anyone should turn down the chance to collaborate with, and build relationships with, good artists in other fields. Plus it’s, you know, the future. You’re reading this post online, and you can click right over to the trailer. Writers and publishers aren’t doing it yet, but it won’t be long before trailers are included in books – you download a book to your Kindle, open it and the trailer plays (actually, that’s a good idea – PATENT). When the waves come, you want to be as far ahead of them as possible.
You can view the trailer for I’ll Sleep When You’re Dead at www.eaymar.com/novel.