A little over a week ago, I filmed the trailer for my first book, The Red Umbrella Society! Although I’m a new author, I see how easy it is for authors to be consumed with writing to the exclusion of all else. Perhaps my background as a Consultant is why as I began to write TRUS, I always kept ideas for marketing in mind till I fleshed them out in an actual workable plan.
A book trailer was always part of my marketing strategy. As I wrote, I’d note scenes potential readers may enjoy, and share – something that will be very important as my release date is just past the holiday season. I’d need something strong enough to break through the season’s clamor, pique their interest in 30-60 seconds, and hopefully gain a place on To Do lists or things to take action on for the new year. After scouring DIY tools, stock footage, other websites, I decided filming it myself would best deliver my content in the manner I want it shown. First impressions are crucial, so I invested in my work to make it happen. Here are some of the steps I took to do so.
- My book is called The Red Umbrella Society. Like the book, I want the significance of the umbrella to unfold throughout the pre-release marketing campaign. Having a highly visual title gives me something to work with.
- Decide on scenes. Some of the scenes I selected were not high action, but subtly significant ones not readily apparent until the reader draws it out. Which scenes convey your story in ways one may not expect? Select several so you’ll have an alternate if plans change. Also, some will be easier to shoot than others.
- Once you decide on possible scenes, visit stock video footage websites to help you further brainstorm and determine if suitable footage already exists. I was fortunate enough to find footage that was perfect for one of my scenes. Only text, sound, and slight color alteration was needed so I saved money without sacrificing quality. Unless otherwise stated, stock footage clips do not have sound meaning you’ll need to add footsteps, for example, voice, etc. Some providers do this for an additional fee, or you can find someone on sites like Fiverr to do so reasonably and quickly.
- If no footage exists, or you simply want to film your own, inventory your resources. You may already know an excellent graphic artist, videographer, etc regardless if it’s not their main profession. You probably also have friends who can act or be perfect bystanders if they can’t. Or hobbies – urbex (urban exploration), bartenders, bikers… they will bring an element of realism to your trailer simply by being themselves.
- Now that you’ve inventoried your resources, write the scene. It doesn’t have to be overly detailed. Just enough so whomever you’re working with can understand what you’re trying to capture and what people in the scene should be doing. My first draft was bare bones. The last included more detail, but still was only a paragraph. To aid the process, I also asked my film crew to read the excerpt on my website. The excerpt gave them insight into the overall story which got them excited and enabled them to share relevant ideas that made the shoot better. Remember, visual story telling is different than reading.
- Next, take a close look at scene requirements and multiple ways it could be done and still relay the same message. Location. Number of people needed. How old should they be? What they should wear? Props to make or purchase. I found realistic reasonably priced costumes online, and purchased some of the props from a local store. I hand painted and sewed the umbrellas onto each myself. Also, make it easy to participate. For one scene, there were no lines other than a well-known prayer. Presentation took precedence over action.
- Communication – I made a list of everyone I knew that fit the roles needed and sent out a short email. The gist of it was: “I’m filming a trailer for my book next month. Am contacting you now to see if you’d like to be in it and get any blackout dates you’re absolutely not available. Here’s what you’d have to do in the video. Get back with me within seven (7) days.” I emailed 22 people, heard back from 10. 5 said they were absolutely in! 3 showed up – including me. So I got to be in my own trailer, partially out of necessity. To these, I sent a second email confirming film date, time, location, parking, FYIs, and my contact info. Takeways: You must do what it takes to make your vision a reality. Even those with the best intentions do not always come through. It’s not personal. But even if it is, your energies are best focused on making it happen… AND having a great time 🙂
- Shoot Date – I’m also a certified PMP (Project Management Professional). We have a saying – The more time spent in planning, the less spent in execution. I took my younger two sons with me (great learning experience and to take pictures for this post). Everyone arrived on time. The film crew got set up and went over last minute details. Tom, one of the crew members had a great last minute idea we incorporated. Then we changed into our costumes and became nuns 🙂 The entire shoot lasted one hour. But you’ll have to wait to see the finished product 🙂 It gets cold where I live so I filmed the trailer before the weather changed and fewer people were available due to the holidays.
Just as each book is different, so is each film project. Most people normally opt for a single book trailer, however, finding appropriate stock footage can expand your marketing campaign and capacity to reach different readers. Stretch yourself. Video is another way to explore your creativity. And if you have hopes of your book becoming a movie, your trailer may just help open the door.