Tuesday, April 5

Posted by Laurel Garver on Tuesday, April 05, 2011 28 comments
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?


  1. I think her trailer was awesome. It was filled with emotion and without knowing the plot I could tell this was a character driven journey. Great job, Jessica!

  2. Thanks so much for having me, Laurel! :o) It was a pleasure!

  3. I had the pleasure of seeing the trailer in every stage of its evolution, and Jessica really did an outstanding job taking her vision for the trailer and honing it through each draft. I love that she appears in the video, that her mother appears in it, and that the song is so personal to both of them. The lyrics fit so perfectly with the storyline. The whole thing is a true work of art!

  4. I love the trailer. I am a stalker of the trailer. Wherever I see it, I have to watch it, and listen to the fantastic voice of the author.

    Great interview, thanks for sharing the info. :)

  5. You are amazing Jessica, talented on so many levels. And, I learned something about the process of making your trailer.

  6. Wow, that sounds like a a of work. But I could tell while watching it how much love and care went into it. It's beautiful. Well done, Jessica. And thanks for hosting her, Laurel.

    East for Green Eyes

  7. It's a great trailer and beautiful music. I enjoyed watching the different emotions the mother was experiencing.

  8. Thank you for interviewing Jessica about her book trailer! We are so proud to be publishing String Bridge!

  9. This was great, Laurel. I enjoyed the trailer, and I'm so impressed with the work Jessica did. Really informative post. Thanks!

  10. Hey, very cool! Informative interview, and lurv the trailer~ :o) <3

  11. Wow! The song is just amazing! And her voice! Oh, we were talking about the trailer weren't we...? ;) Amazing.

  12. Wow, this trailer was informative and encompassed with so much emotion! Love it and thanks for sharing with us.

    Laurel, thank you so much for commenting and voting for me on Facebook. You are one of the nicest bloggers I have had the pleasures of connecting with. Your blog always motivates me to get back to my writing and think about issues I may have overlooked.

  13. Jessica is right, the emotion of the music fit the images and pulled me right in. I do feel like I know what the story will be like. This is a gorgeous video. Such talent!

  14. This is an awesome trailer. I'm so glad Jessica did it her way. :D

  15. Laura: It was interesting hearing about how she went about filling the trailer with that emotion.

    Jessia: My pleasure! Thanks for a great interview.

    Nicole: What a treat for you to see its whole evolution. A work of art indeed!

    Glynis: A stalker of the trailer! Wow, you are quite the fan. :-)

  16. the trailer looks tempting. It's great! :)

  17. Bish: She sure is. Great lessons here, right?

    Rosie: It was a labor of love for sure, and her hard work was clearly worthwhile.

    Josh: The emotions really shine through, don't they?

  18. LuckyPress: It was an honor to feature her work. She seems to feel equally glad to be working with you!

    Roxy: Thanks. Her craftsmanship really shows and I'm so glad she was willing to share some great tips with us.

    Leigh: It was pretty cool to learn all that went into this emotional piece of short film.

  19. Jenni: If her publisher ever wanted to add an ancillary product, I bet a soundtrack disc would sell like hotcakes! The music is just gripping, isn't it?

    Saumya: Cool, isn't it? And thanks so much for your kind words. I think your essay won on its own high merits and I was glad to support it.

    Tricia: I admire it even more knowing the back story, don't you? We need to urge Jessica to record a whole soundtrack! :-)

  20. Stina: It's cool how she had such vision for it and her press was so supportive.

    Baiba: It pulls you right in, doesn't it?

  21. Thanks for all your praise everyone! :o) I really appreciate it!. BTW, I will be recording a whole soundtrack :o) But SHHH! Not supposed to know that yet! I'll be selling the tracks via iTunes on a website made especially for the book. :o) Some of the lyrics for the songs will even be in the book. :o)

  22. I got to see the trailer before, and, wow. I think it is wonderful and I can't wait to read the book. It is so emotional and peaks my interest.

  23. I thought it was very well put together and I really like the song. I found the programs she used was helpful information. Thanks for sharing this and it is a great interview. I like your blog and am now following you. =)


  24. Wow, this is soooo cool! I did exactly what a trailer should - it got me interested:) Wonderful interview!

  25. I def think the music is key, it is unique and kept me watching.

  26. Super interview! Jessica is so multi-talented. That trailer's amazing!

  27. Christine: The trailer surely did its job well, then.

    Tiger: Thanks for the follow! It certainly was helpful to learn how Jessica achieved her vision.

    Lindsay: Sure is. And thanks for your kind words--I learned all my mad interviewing skillz from listening to Terry Gross on NPR (journalism school helped a little too).

  28. Chris: It really is crucial, isn't it? It got my gears spinning about how a somewhat less musical person might go about harnessing a great soundtrack.

    Kittie: My mind was spinning with questions after seeing the trailer--I'm so pleased Jessica was kind enough to answer them!