Well there’s a thought. I know I it’s not published yet yet but if anyone wants to make a suitably obscene offer then I might consider it.
Meanwhile, in our dimension, I thought I’d do a quick blog about book trailers. I have to be honest, I didn’t even know book trailers were a thing until a few years ago when I saw the trailer for Clive Barker’s last Abarat book. I’ll put a link to it below as it’s well worth a watch. Obviously there’s a fair old budget and a talented creator/director involved with his, but the visuals more than sold it to me – which I thought was kind of cool as it was a completely different medium to the book. Also, for a kids or YA book, I think the trailer is pretty terrifying…
So, I decided that if Clive had one, I wanted one too. Just as awesome and scary, maybe a bit more noir-ish, there had to be places on screen connected to the story and it had to make people think, ‘Holy crap, I must buy that book immediately!’
Firstly, I put a shortlist of top directors, producers and production companies together I wanted to be involved. I then checked my trailer production budget and accepted that ‘absolute zero’ probably wasn’t wasn’t going to tempt anyone. I then considered an alternative of offering to buy Tim Burton or James Cameron a few beers in Staggs in Musselburgh to see if I could get them onboard. That might have been a winner, Staggs is a great pub with top beers – but of course, Lockdown was going to put a delay on that too. Damn.
So as usually happens when there’s no budget, I started looking at free options and things I could do myself with a computer, a bit of effort and lots of gloomy black and white images – of which I have many.
Long story short, here’s what I came up with:
And here’s how it was done:
- I have an Apple computer, so it comes with iMovie preloaded. I had a look through to see what it could do – watched a few Youtube videos and discovered there are ready made templates in it for movie trailers – one was for a horror movie, which was the one I used. i wouldn’t say iMovie was intuitive, there were a few sweary episodes while I tried to make it do what I wanted – but there are lots of brief and sensible tutorials online and on youtube so I watched a lot of them. I do remember making a short video for music stuff I did a few years ago on the PC equivalent, so if you have a PC, it should be possible to do something similar with Winmovie (or whatever its called now).
- My kids always tell me all my photographs look like they’re from horror movies – well, thats probably true. I love black and white photography and I take a lot of B&W shots on the iPhone. I went through my back catalogue and pulled out suitably atmospheric shots out that might be usable in a spooky trailer about Edinburgh. I also went for a few wanders around the Cowgate, where the book is set, with the iPhone in movie mode, once during the day and a couple of times at night after a gig to see what I could catch. I then rewatched the footage and picked a few moments out. It was easy to convert the movie footage to black and white in iMovie.
- I needed a scary girl in a mask with a huge knife to come lunging at the camera as if she was going to disembowel me with a smile then make pavement art with my entrails. Natural choice for that was my daughter, who loved the thought of running around the garden at night with a scary mask on and a large knife. Sorted. I also downloaded a ‘strobe’ app for that just to add a bit of tension to the footage. Please note, I scored zero parenting points for this and she now tells me I have to get her an equity card, but I think it was worth it.
- Editing it together. Hard to explain what I actually did, easier to show – but the premade trailer on iMovies lets you drag, drop and replace things into the existing storyboard thats already there. It wasn’t too difficult. Well, maybe a five out of ten for difficulty for someone like me who isn’t computer illiterate but nowhere near geek level. I did actually write and record my own music for the trailer (I used GarageBand – another great free app) but it ended up unused as the pre-existing soundtrack just worked better with the timing of it all.
- As the images and words began to flow, it made sense to have a couple of Edinburgh Landscapes in there to suit. I had some, but they weren’t exactly right and with lockdown on I couldn’t just head into town to take my own so I found a free stock photo site – Unsplash.com – and downloaded a few images from that. They were in colour, so I converted them to B&W in the photo viewer programme and fired them in. Also, even though it says everything is free on Unsplash for usage/licence etc, I did email the contributors to say thanks and credited them at the end. Nice to be nice.
- I then created a Youtube channel (pretty easy to do) and uploaded the trailer – then began sharing it on social media. If you do this you can keep a track of how many plays its had – which doesn’t really prove anything – but if it ever goes viral you’ll be able to maybe make some revenue from it on there. I think you need around 40,000 subscribers before you can call it a decent income.
There you go – six easy steps to making a book trailer. Maybe I should make one of those impossibly cheery YouTube videos where people start by saying ‘Hi Guys!” Okay, maybe not.
Anyway, it’s not exactly a zero effort enterprise but if you’ve got a bit of computer savvy and aren’t afraid to throw a few ideas in and out, a trailer is a good promotional tool. I started posting mine about three days ago and it’s had about 110 views, so not exactly trending – but at least some people are watching it. Some have even said they quite like it.
Finally – here’s how Clive does it, i.e. properly –