Today I welcome author Jessica Bell, whose debut novel String Bridge will be released in November, to share her story about creating her book trailer.
In case you haven't yet seen this amazing multimedia presentation, here it is for your viewing pleasure:
Now, onto our Q&A!
Q: How was your publisher, Lucky Press, involved in the creation and release of your book trailer? Was there a permissions and vetting process? What was that like?
JB: Well, originally Lucky Press told me to purchase photos from iStock send them with a text and that they would put it together for me. But when I voiced my vision for the trailer and said that I would do it myself, they said, "go for it," but to send a rough in for approval first. So I sent in my mother's original song (didn't need anything other other than my mother's "yes, use it" for permission), and the changes to the lyrics I was going to make, plus an accumilation of photos I wanted in it (some are from iStock and some are mine from past live performances of mine). The photos from iStock are purchased, so I didn't need any special permissions for those either, as permission comes with the purchase. All good so far.
Then I put together my first draft. I originally had VERY minimal text, and my publisher was concerned that it looked too much like a music video, so I added in more text at the beginning as per their suggestions. I hadn't intended to include moving images until I'd done a few drafts and realized it was missing something. The moving images really brought the trailer to life for me. I cut and pasted sections of my mother's music clip into it (full body shot of woman against white wall, and distorted piano keys), and some sped up shots of people walking in Athens streets. The other videos where purchased at iStock. Again no permission difficulties there.
Q: Your trailer focuses on the atmosphere and emotions of String Bridge, rather than the plot. What was your decision-making process in how you approached choosing the style and content of your trailer?
JB: Well, my book really is ABOUT emotion, so it just felt natural to try and make a trailer like that. I want my book to make readers "feel," so naturally I wanted my trailer to give readers a taste of what they might feel when reading the book. Being a musician, and knowing how much music can invoke emotional responses, I figured, "Hey, let's let the music do the talking." The lyrics of the song pretty much summarize the struggles and questions my protagonist faces throughout the story, too. So again, I didn't want to draw attention away from the vocals. The lyrics needed to be heard.
Q: What technology tools did you use to create the trailer?
JB: The videos I used were already made, so I just used Windows Movie Maker to cut and paste it all together. It was quite easy. Regarding the song, well, that was what was the most work. Hours in the recording studio, singing and then letting the music engineer do his magic! The instuments were recorded with a program called Cubase, in my mother's home studio first. The guitar, bass and piano were recorded manually, and drums and strings electronically. I grabbed the data files, put them on a disc, all raw and dry with no dynamics, gave them to the engineer here in Athens, sung to the guitar track, and then let him produce it until it shined.
Q: What unexpected hitches did you face in creating the trailer? How did you overcome them?
JB: Actually, it all ran really smoothly!
Q: Are there any special considerations other authors should think about before composing and performing their own music? For example, should original soundtracks like yours be copyrighted? How can they achieve the best sound quality on a limited budget?
JB: Well, the song hasn't been copyrighted legally. Yet. But it will be. But I can't reallly talk about that right now. I have a bit of a surprise when the book is released. Let's just say it includes a lot more than one song! ;o) I don't think copyright would really be an issue. Once something is out there, with a date on it, you have a legal right to it no matter what.
Regarding sound quality, if you want to produce a song with the least amount of fuss, time and money, do it at home on your computer with Cubase or some equivalent music program. But if you're doing it at home, you need to realize that you won't have sound-proofed walls like proper studios do, so it would be best to use digital instruments to avoid all sorts of static, pops and background noises creeping into your recording. It's a lot more complicated than just "recording it at home"--you have to learn how to use the program and purchase other equipment, etc., but if you already know what you're doing, go for it!
Thanks so much, Jessia, for sharing your experiences with us!
Jessica Bell is a native of Australia who now lives in Athens, Greece. She writes women's literary fiction and poetry. She makes a living as a freelance fiction editor and a writer/editor of global English language teaching materials. She blogs at The Alliterative Allomorph.
What do you admire about Jessica's trailer? What helpful tips did you learn?