Wednesday, January 6, 2010

How (and Why) to Make a Book Trailer

How (and Why) to Make a Book Trailer
By Melissa Hart

Last summer, I complained on my Facebook fan page about my struggles to make a book trailer promoting my new memoir Gringa: A Contradictory Girlhood.

A friend e-mailed back, “Wouldn’t it be easier if you just searched on Craigslist for a used Library Bookmobile and called it good?”

I think she had her trailers confused.

These days, a book trailer functions much like a movie trailer; it's a 3-4 minute multimedia piece that entices people to read your book. Some publicists say that in this age of computers and YouTube obsession, a good book trailer can be a much more effective marketing strategy than touring local bookstores. More and more authors are making book trailers, or having them made. You can see numerous examples at here

A professional trailer can be fearsomely expensive, costing upwards of $2,000. I'm an adjunct journalism teacher, and I didn’t have that kind of money. Plus, as crazy as it sounds–I wanted to learn to make my own book trailer. My colleague at the University of Oregon taught me Photoshop and FinalCut Express. The latter is a film editing program which proved invaluable, if initially daunting. With Rick Young's excellent supplemental text The Focal Easy Guide to Final Cut Pro, I figured how to edit, add photos and music, and synchronize audio and video.

Kirkus Reviews had called my book “quirky,” and I wanted the book trailer to reflect that . . . but how? I thought about the themes in Gringa, as well as the tone of the writing. As the book includes recipes, I structured the trailer like a mock cooking show, teaching viewers how to make one of the key “meals” in the book . . . Frito Boats.

I scanned numerous photos from my junior high and high school years, and shot new photos of the Frito Boat ingredients. I searched for a suitable theme song from Freeplay Music, then borrowed a Flipcam and external microphone from my school and started filming. For twelve hours, I slaved away as director, photographer, actor, editor, soundcrew, and chef.

Twelve hours of work for three minutes of film may seem ridiculous, but the process struck me as really interesting, and so much fun. Intrigued by my trailer, book reviewers have agreed to write about Gringa, and it even ended up getting mentioned on The Huffington Post.

Here it is, for your viewing pleasure, the book trailer for Gringa:

Melissa Hart is a journalism teacher at the University of Oregon, and a memoir writing teacher for U.C. Berkeley's online extension program. Her new memoir, Gringa: A Contradictory Girlhood (Seal Press, 2009), is a coming-of-age story about growing up white, heterosexual and boring in multicultural Los Angeles with a lesbian mom, a brother with Down syndrome, and a deep desire to be a Latina.

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