Archive | January 2015

How to Make a Low Budget Book Trailer Part 2: Laying Out the Scenes

This is the second part in my blog series How to Make a Low Budget Book Trailer. In this series, I will go over how I complete each step of my young adult, horror/supernatural book trailer for Dagger & Brimstone: Town from Hell. At this point, I shot some new video, searched through old video, and took pictures to begin to build the trailer in the film editing software I use, Movie Maker.

If You Don’t Have All the Needed Video

My roughly sketched out storyboard lays out how I envision the initial video. Some footage I decided to use, such as desert scenes, footsteps on squeaky floorboards, and a thunderstorm, was already in my library. After opening a new Movie Maker project, I added that footage first in the order it appears on the storyboard. I edited each section of video by cropping the length to six seconds and changing the brightness and tone, which is under the visual effects tab.

To fill in the gaps where I don’t have the right footage yet, I snapped pictures to use as placeholders. For instance, the opening scene will show a table with two handwritten notes, signed by my two main characters Racer and Arloe. I took a picture of two pieces of paper and added it to Movie Maker. The duration can be set on photos as well as videos, so I set the photo’s duration to six seconds. When I get the proper video, I’ll just replace the photo in Movie Maker. By using a placeholder, I can see how the scenes flow together and where I will add text.

The Second Step is Adding Music and Sound Effects

As soon as I get all the video and placeholders into Movie Maker, I will work on finding sounds or music to add to it. There are three ways I’ve acquired sound in the past:

  • Using the natural background noise of the video
  • Stripping audio from another video by using Audacity software
  • Purchasing sounds/music from online suppliers which is generally cheaper than video

In my book trailer, The Troubled Souls of Goldie Rich: The Zombie Next Door, I used all three methods. The footsteps crunching leaves in the graveyard scene and the thunder occurring after the lighting is natural background noise. The wolf howling during the full moon and the doorbell ringing was stripped from different video I’d taken. All the music and the noise of the candle cracking were purchased.

I have already determined which background sounds I’m keeping and which need to be turned off for each section of video in the new trailer. By the next blog, I’ll have hopefully shot the video I’m lacking and gotten my sounds and music together.

Saving the Text and Special Effects for Last

Text can be added in Movie Maker with many options including font size, color, and duration on screen. The text will be lines I’ve chosen from the manuscript, which will introduce the characters and set up the story. Making sure the text is easy to see and on screen long enough to read takes a lot of testing.

The hardest part of the trailer will be adding special effects. I am not an expert at Photoshop, but I use it every so often. In The Zombie Next Door trailer, I used Photoshop to make the gravestone with the angel on top. I also used it to change the angel into the gargoyle and make the voodoo doll wink. All of it was done with photos and not video.

For this trailer, I’m going to create a tattoo on a picture of a bicep I took and make the tattoo’s outlines turn into dancing flames–hopefully. I also want to create a welcome sign for my fictional town, Winthrop. I will use a photo of a desert landscape and add the sign. I hope to have the “before and after” pictures for the next blog.

Advertisements

How to Make a Low Budget Book Trailer: Step by Step

In my other blog series, Creating a Low-budget Book Trailer: The First Steps, I went over the process I used to create my middle grade and young adult book trailers for under $40. This blog will go through the step-by-step process for my new book trailer from the original ideas to the final product and all the changes in between. Do not confuse low budget with easy. To create a decent book trailer that is one to two minutes long, you will have to invest a good deal of time. Are you ready?

Keep in Mind

I am not a professional videographer, and I do not put together book trailers for a living. I am not promoting any software or companies that sell audio or video. I am just an author on a really tight advertising budget, passing along tips to fellow authors. Even if you don’t find my book trailers as wonderful as I’d like you to, you may be able to pick up a useful tip or two to make an even more fabulous one of your own.

Although I have books published, the trailer I’m going to create will be for a manuscript that isn’t published. Why would I go through the trouble? The reason is simple: I want to be prepared. Hopefully, my agent/publisher will want to publish the book, and when/if I get the thumbs up, I can start promoting it to build interest.

Key Points of the Book Trailer

My manuscript, Dagger & Brimstone: Town from Hell, is a young adult, horror, supernatural adventure. It’s suspenseful and has some gross scenes. I want those points to come across in my trailer without giving too much away. The quick synopsis is: two 17-year-olds are very much and love and decide to run away just for the summer to escape their meddling parents. The juvenile delinquent Racer and college-bound Arloe are as opposite as their families. They go off the grid exactly like they planned to a remote town and wind up in a nightmare. Of course, their parents can’t help them because they have no clue where the teens went.

Show and Tell

I picked out a few scenes from the manuscript that would set up the story and let the viewer know the teens didn’t arrive at a pleasant place. On a sheet of paper divided into 10 sections, I roughly (as in Pictionary drawings) sketched my ideas for the scenes. I am very visual, so this helps me a lot. It took a few days to decide what to use; I didn’t zoom through it in five minutes.
Creating House rough sketch

I copy and pasted lines from the manuscript into another document. I chose short lines that I thought were interesting, informative, and would introduce my main characters, Racer, Arloe, and Sheriff Blue. Again, it was a time-consuming process. For the next blog, I’ll match the scenes with the lines. Examples of lines:

• Our parents will never find us—I made sure of that.
• Everyone we’d met in Winthrop had a name from the book of nursery rhymes. It was all too weird, and I couldn’t get out of town fast enough.
• “Jack hid bodies!”
I stared at the frozen face of a middle-aged man. His blue lips had frozen squashed against the clear plastic that encased his body, and his pale, lifeless eyes had partially rolled back in their sockets. “I think Jack is a body.”
• “We’ll never get out of here. Things are roaming all over this place.”
“What kind of thing is Blue exactly?”

Just like a manuscript, this is a first draft, but it gives me a starting point. From here, I’ll work on tightening the sentences, finding music and sounds to enhance the scenes and figure out where I’ll shoot or acquire my envisioned video and stills. I recently found this blog by author Kate Bloomfield that also has helpful tips, and I think her trailer is well done.

Check back on my blog to see how the trailer for Dagger & Brimstone: Town from Hell is coming along.

In Between Writing

I could never be bored. When I’m not at work, doing things with or for my family, or taking care of my miniature zoo of pets, I love to write, paint, play tennis, go to yoga, work out, read, garden, walk the dogs, hike…I think you get my point. So much to do and not enough time.

Creating a blog takes up some of that precious time, but I enjoy posting every so often. You may have caught one of my posts about writing, but this time, I’m going to share some of my artwork. I enjoy dabbling in all types of media, but watercolor in probably my favorite.

Murphy

Covered Bridge

The covered bridge in an actual working bridge in Pennsylvania Dutch country. The portrait is of Murphy. If you like my paintings, click here to see more.

Why Write a Book Review?

Book reviews have taken on a whole new meaning for me since I’ve become a published author. Before any of my work was published, I didn’t always write a review for books I’d read. Shame on me. What I didn’t realize at the time is how much the review would mean to those authors—the old quote ‘walk a mile in someone else’s shoes’ caught up with me.

How Reviews Help an Author

I can’t speak for all authors, especially best-selling ones, but I can for myself and a few close author friends. We love reviews and getting feedback on work that we’ve toiled over for years. Bad reviews aren’t our favorite, but I’ve actually had one of my friends laugh off a bad review. He said it made other people want to read what was so bad about the book. One of my favorite reviews was written by a 10-year-old who had read my young adult/middle grade book The Troubled Souls of Goldie Rich: The Zombie Next Door. She gave my book a good review and wrote how much she loved it. Nailing the material for the age group it’s written for is what I strive to do as an author. Her review confirmed that for me.

Accumulating book reviews is also great advertising for authors. Word of mouth can’t be beat in my opinion. Who doesn’t ask family and friends for advice or opinions? Reviews also can translate into increased sales and unlock better promotions for books from sellers as well.

How Do Book Reviews Help Readers

As a reader, I choose a book by its subject matter, which I gather from the back cover and readers’ reviews. Sometimes, I admit, I’m sucked in by an amazing cover, but the book has to pass the back cover test to actually get purchased. For me and many other readers, we use reviews to determine if we really want to spend our time and money on a book. A glowing review can seal the deal for me, especially if someone knowledgeable on the subject recommends it. I was very excited to get a wonderful review from Cindy Vallar, author, editor, and historian of all things pirate. In her monthly maritime history column entitled Pirates and Privateers, she posted the review of my middle grade book Pirates Off the Deep End.

Lesson Learned

I’ve walked in an author’s shoes and have been seen the light. I actually went back and wrote reviews on Amazon for books I’d read years before. Even if a book isn’t your favorite, there is probably something worth mentioning that is positive about it: good characters, fast-paced, kept my interest. To say a book ‘sucks’ without elaborating doesn’t help an author or anyone trying to learn something from your review. More useful information would be ‘I couldn’t connect with the characters’ or ‘the plot wasn’t believable.’ A simple, three-sentence review can tell a lot. Keep in mind most authors spend several years and countless hours on each book, and granted, we realize not everyone will love our work, but respect and common courtesy is always appreciated no matter what your profession.

I may never reach my goal as ‘a best-selling author’, but as long as good reviews trickle in, I’ve done my job as an author to entertain readers. So keep this blog in mind the next time you read a book, and spend a few minutes typing your opinion of it. It’s not only your chance to make your opinion count, but your time and energy will be appreciated.