Cinematic Book Trailer Planned for First Book of 11:34 Series
Over the past few weeks, a lot of my free time was spent self-training in cinematic techniques and amateur/professional film making. I watched more than 200 videos, read countless articles, and perused through at least a dozen magazines on the subject.
I have a very aggressive schedule to maintain. I am currently working on the trailer's script, which I need to have completed by mid-December. With a working script, I can do a dry run to see how it looks and sounds on video. Then, it's tweak, tweak, tweak.
MY MARKETING STRATEGYIt’s not easy being the new kid on the block. Nobody knows you from beans, and there aren’t many who go out of their way to make you feel welcome. You have to work it, introduce yourself, meet and greet, but it is incumbent on you to make it happen.
As a debut author, I do not think it will be much different. I’m the new kid. No one knows me. Literary agents have slush piles filled with newbies like me. I calculated new authors have about a 1-in-600 chance to be published. An agent will give someone who has been there, done it a second look before they even consider a newbie, because they are a safer bet. Newbies are doing what newbies usually do: beg for their writing lives to be published. It can’t be easy for the agent.
But this is 2015. We are in a social media age, and I have a strategy. I am a new kid on the block. There is no way around that. What can I do to stand out, to make people notice me? Whatever I do, it has to be visually appealing.
About a year ago, I researched the idea of doing a book trailer. What I found was that few authors were doing them. Those that did put a video together did so with little effort, and it made my inner geek cringe. Most videos were simply the author dressed down in front of fuzzy webcams discussing their work. I got the sense that many of these were unscripted, and the authors were just winging it on camera. My inner geek cringed.
It made me think long and hard about what not to do. If I did a book trailer, it had to draw an audience - not make them run away like their hair was on fire. Common sense, Marketing 101, don’t make the customer flee.
When I finished my first book trailer, it served the purpose of drawing attention, but it wasn’t exactly what I envisioned. It cost a pretty penny to produce, but it still did not have that special something I am seeking. On the plus side, I gained experience by using the hardware and software to edit the video.
The crux of being an author, especially a newbie, is you can dole out book after book. If you walk into any brick-and-mortar establishment, there is a sea of books for sale. Each and every book, the author literally spends hundreds of hours researching, writing, and editing their work before approaching literary agents to try their luck at getting their work published.
Unless an author has established a name for themselves, which can take years of dedicated work (and luck), how do those who are unknown make themselves seen or heard? I love visiting Barnes and Noble. I see thousands of books, all written by dedicated authors, 99% of whom I don't know or never heard of. I am constantly wondering how many of my favorite authors / books have yet to be discovered on those shelves. Sadly, they will probably remain that way because reading usually requires an investment of time, money, hope, and courage. This is an awful lot to ask of a reader, especially if your name isn't ubiquitous like King, Patterson, or Rowling. So what device can an author use to entice a reader amid their peers?
ENTER THE TRAILER
We all watch movie trailers. They draw us into a story in a very short period of time, teasing us. It gives us a taste and finishes with us wanting more.
Sure, most authors – especially newbies – don’t have inexhaustible bank accounts. Trailers are mini movies and can cost thousands of dollars to produce. I am a geek and IT is my trade. To make this work, I need to use this to my advantage, and to save thousands of dollars by doing as much by myself as possible. I'm putting my geek skills to the test by wearing as many hats my head can hold: writer, producer, director, editor, videographer.
Being a geek is all about trying, doing, failing and succeeding, stretching the limits, learning, and sharing newfound knowledge. Creativity is the canvas and your brain strokes the paint brush. You can’t be a geek without gadgets. Gadgetry is a fundamental necessity to geekdom. To produce this independent trailer, I needed a few toys. Camcorder, tripod, slider, crane jib. The gear, when used properly, will give the film a professional and cinematic appearance.
Needing a cast of characters for my production, I reached out to a few friends and was overjoyed by the positive reaction I received. Every single person I asked is willing and eager to participate.
With filming planned for mid- to late-December, my hope is to release the trailer sometime in early 2016.
All that is left to do is write a query letter to a literary agent, one that sells itself. One that persuades rather than begs. One that brings a little visual stimulation, a little “Hollywood”, to sell it. One that is fresh and new and appealing. One that makes the novel that I spent hundreds of hours researching, writing, and editing stand out in a sea of other potential candidates.