Updating Book Trailers

Over the last few months, I’ve been releasing new editions of several of my novels. Some of these had video trailers associated with them. Last month, I discussed updating the trailer for The Astronomer’s Crypt. That was a really premium cinematic trailer and the only things that went out of date were the cover and information about where the book was available. I did need expert help to fix those elements because they were so well done, but most of the trailer is just the same as it was back when it was first released.

The very first book trailer I ever made was one for my novel Vampires of the Scarlet Order. I was fortunate enough to have a batch of beautiful interior illustrations by Steven Gilberts to work with. One of my neighbors came over and played music on guitar and I mixed that with audio of myself reading the book description. Since the illustrations were black and white, I used filters in my video editing software to give the images some film stutter and scratches, so the whole thing looked like an old film. It was pretty cool. The only thing I didn’t like was that the audio was a little muddy because I didn’t have a great microphone and it was recorded on tape rather than digitally. Two years ago, I dusted off the old trailer and gave it a new ending because the information about the book’s availability had become outdated, but I knew the whole trailer could use a thorough overhaul.

Screenshot from the new Vampires of the Scarlet Order trailer.

This year, when Chaz Kemp did a whole new cover for Vampires of the Scarlet Order, I saw that as a great opportunity to redo the trailer. As part of his work, he sent me individual illustrations of the characters. I was able to apply filters in Adobe Photoshop to photographs I have of real locations from the novel to make them look like paintings. I then placed the characters over them. Once that was done, I read the updated book description and found some cool music that matched the mood from Keven MacLeod at http://incompetech.com. Although all the images are stills, I think the trailer has a neat animated-movie like vibe.

Once I made this trailer, I realized I also wanted to update my trailer for The Solar Sea. The original version of that trailer featured illustrations Laura Givens had made for a website promoting the novel. Also, I used her illustration of the novel’s solar sail to create an old-fashioned animation of the solar sail entering orbit around Jupiter. The only thing I didn’t like about the original trailer was that the music was a little short for the video length and I didn’t narrate it. I used intertitle cards like one might find in a silent movie. This time I recorded narration and I found a really dramatic piece of music that highlighted the narration.

I find trailers like this fun to make, but they do take time to get right. The tech required is pretty simple. I used Windows Live Movie Maker for the first video. I used the OpenShot Video Editor for the second one. This was necessary when I found Windows Live Movie Maker wouldn’t import the Movie Maker files with my animation from a decade ago. OpenShot is available at http://openshot.org

As for creating images for this kind of trailer, the best advice I can give is to get on good terms with your cover artist or an artist who can create art to match the flavor and style of your book. Make sure you’ve paid your artist fairly for their work. Recording narration is like any skill. It takes practice. Write your script. Practice reading it at the microphone and record a few takes. It’s easy to flub a word or miss the sound of something like a motorcycle passing the house or a lawnmower next door.

Finally, have fun! I had a blast creating these videos and I hope they’re fun to watch. Of course, I hope they also tempt you to learn a little more about the novels. If you would like to, drop by http://www.davidleesummers.com

10 comments on “Updating Book Trailers

  1. rozepotpourri says:

    are you the narrator too?

  2. According to Youtube, I was the second person to watch the new trailer for *Vampires of the Scarlet Order* there; that was a few days ago.

    It was interesting hearing your voice. That’s one weird thing about communicating with people by email or online posts–you can “talk” to them for years and not know what their voice sounds like. (Although for some of us with theatre and other performance experience, our voice can change….)

    How much do you think trailers affect sales?

    • Thank you, Alden. Technically, then, you were the first person to watch the trailer outside of my immediate family. I watched it once when I first posted the video to make sure there were no glitches in the upload.

      Good question about how much trailers affect sales. They can definitely cause someone to stop and look who might not have stopped and looked at a cover alone. Also, we’re getting increasingly attuned to consuming information in video format, so it can seem more “real” if there’s a video about a book and not just a book description.

      There’s a good article at “The Write Life” blog that discusses both cinematic trailers like the one I made for The Astronomer’s Crypt and more “slide show” animated trailers like I did for The Solar Sea and Vampires of the Scarlet Order. It doesn’t give any definite numbers, but it says interesting things about the pros and cons of making a book trailer.
      https://thewritelife.com/are-book-trailers-a-marketing-must-have/

  3. Love the voice in the video.. and ur art work is great too..

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