After months of some serious anxiety over my upcoming novel, I’ve been getting some good news about Burn Baby Burn, which is due in bookstores on March 8. Book Riot gave it a nice shout out last month, and it was listed as an anticipated 2016 title on the Barnes & Noble Teen blog by my pals at We Need Diverse Books. It’s also been named a Junior Library Guild selection and has earned a starred review on Kirkus.
Today, Shelf Awareness premiered the trailer. In case you aren’t subscribed to the industry newsletter, here it is below. Please feel free to share the trailer if you like what you see.
I finally hired a professional to handle the production this time around. Why? You’ve seen my past trailers: super basic via i-movie or keynote and Quicktime. I started making trailers a few years ago thanks to SCBWI’s Chris Cheng who gave a terrific workshop on how to make DIY ads for your books. Over the years, I’ve enjoyed doing them, but the truth is that they’re a stretch for a novice like me. When you’re a rookie, it shows. (No need to spare my feelings. I know.)
Rich Bailey of Shooting Richard produced the Burn Baby Burn trailer – which is to say he had to deal with a very persnickety author offering ideas and opinions. (Poor guy.) To keep costs down, I came to him with the basic storyboard concept and text. He made the magic. Here below is a Q & A with Rich.
ASK THE EXPERT: Five minutes with Rich Bailey
What is your best argument for why authors should invest in a book trailer?
It is important to understand a book trailer as a marketing tool, and your book as your product. The end goal is to sell that product, and you do that by promoting it, advertising it, raising awareness for it. By now everyone should be well aware that all Internet users prefer video over written content. Overwhelmingly. If you hope to promote a product (yes, even a written product), video is going to play an extremely important role in that promotion. Especially online.
Whether marketing books or bubblegum, the goal is the same; it’s all about connecting with the audience. You’re not just selling the features of a product. You’re selling ideas, you’re selling emotions. Try to capture the emotions that your audience will feel, try to show them, rather than tell them, what they will gain from the book. The connection translates into reading your book. And that’s worth investing in.
You want something engaging that will grab audiences and make them think I have got to get this book right now. In order to do that, having a good, exciting book trailer is going to help snag readers who may otherwise have not wanted to read your blurb and would pass on your book.
Besides, how addicting is it to watch movie trailers? What makes you think watching (good) book trailers would be any less addicting?
What’s a reasonable budget for an author to expect for a trailer? (What are the factors that impact cost)
There are thousands of factors that impact cost, including concept, script, crew, actors (and actors’ unions!), editors, graphics, cameras, lights, and on and on, and as soon as you figure out what to “expect” there’s some new game-changer. Here are a few basics:
There is a huge difference between a professional videographer, producer, or filmmaker and your nephew who can “make some pretty slick movies on his iPhone”. So, the first cost-impacting factor is going to be the skill of the artist/team you’re using for your trailer. Do they actually know how to make exceptional content? Did they go to school for this? Do you like their work? If you find someone you really click with, they will most likely guide you through the budgeting process.
Secondly, the scope or concept of your trailer is going to influence the budget. A slide show with photos of your cat (eck!) is going to be a lot cheaper to produce than computer-generated robot velociraptors attacking a thousand-man Viking army. Just think of how much 1,000 Viking helmets cost!
As with anything, check the credentials of that service provider. Always ask for a demo reel or past work if you don’t know the person. Also, be suspicious of budgets that seem too low – like, below $300. (Again, there are always exceptions.) Remember that filmmaking and producing commercials is expensive, so try not to get sticker-shock.
What’s the author’s role when working with a professional on a book trailer?
It’s different in every situation. Some authors just want to provide a very loose guideline (say, the book’s blurb) and walk away, while others will write the script and drive the visuals as well. Ideally it’ll be a collaboration between author and filmmaker.
Ultimately, if you’re paying for the trailer, you have the final say. However, I strongly encourage you to let a professional do his/her own thing. Trailers are just as artistic and subjective as books, and a professional is most likely going to know more tricks to making a compelling trailer than you will. Otherwise, why did you hire them? While the author should have a clear vision of what they’d like to see, remember that the video professional probably has just as clear and concise a vision. Work together and communicate with each other, and trust the pro, even when you’re not sure what the trailer should look like. That’s why they’re there.
Are there any trends/changes you see for book trailers?
Book trailers are still in their infancy. Old school thinking still exists, but it is going by the way of the dodo bird. (“No one wants to see a video about a book!”) Consider this: You can argue that no one wants to see a TV commercial about the taste of gum. Still, we see gum commercials all the time, and no one is morally offended except, like, gum-free advocates…anyway.
I believe that book trailers are going to grow in popularity and production value. I predict that within 10 years or less, well-made book trailers will be as useful as film trailers when it comes to promoting entertainment. You’ll still have your homemade slideshow fan-made-style trailers, but I think we’ll start seeing a lot more money, art, and attention going into video content about books. We’ve already started to see that in the last year, and there are no reasons to believe it will slow down.
Also look for other video content beyond book trailers, such as author interviews, how-to videos, Youtube channels, and social media video clips that help promote books. This trend will go hand-in-hand with demand for quality video content. People will opt out of reading several book synopses before picking a title. It will become more common to watch the trailer when deciding which book to purchase.
See some of Rich’s work at www.shootingrichard.com