When my agent suggested I make a book trailer for Promised, I was game. I started asking my writer friends who had made their trailers, and I began watching trailers more critically to see what I liked. I was drawn to the trailers that were short, and those that had voice-overs speaking like a character, not an announcer. I liked trailers that gave a hint of the story without actually explaining it, and I liked the pace to move fast enough, but without getting frantic. In short, I had a happy, vague notion of what I wanted and little idea of how to get there.
Next I contacted a couple of the trailer makers to ask about timelines, pricing, and how they obtained the images and music they used in regard to copyrights. Jeff Somers had fair replies, and more important, even within a few emails, he revealed a friendly sense of humor and a receptive way of exchanging ideas. I sent him a file of my novel and the copy from the jacket cover. My agent’s assistant lined up a five-way phone meeting with my agent, two of the creative marketing people at Macmillan, Jeff and me for us to swap preliminary ideas. The Mac people suggested we include mentions of Books 1 and 2 at the beginning, and they knew the technical specs for their media outlets. Jeff asked them for high-resolution images of the covers, wrap-around. We talked a bit about what we all expected, and Jeff offered to send me a preliminary draft the next week.
Writing a script was the next key step. Jeff wrote one based on the jacket copy, and I wrote one based on Gaia’s character, and we merged them into one that we both liked. He said he’d start looking for a voice-over artist with a young, Midwestern voice.
A few days later, Jeff sent me the first draft of the trailer, and that’s when the fun began. From teaching broadcasting, I know just enough about film editing to appreciate how flexible it is and how hours can vanish while you fiddle with clips. Jeff and I got honest with each other real fast. I’d send him a bullet list of what was working for me in each draft and what was not, with a list of other clips he could try. Have you ever searched Stock.XCHNG or VideoBlocks? Fun stuff. We switched out the music twice. Jeff found more images for a better fit, substituting, for instance, the noose for an earlier image of a gun and bullets. He searched three different times for the girl’s face that appears towards the end. He adjusted the timing, the pans, the zooms, the colors, the aging effects, and the fades. Four drafts in, I showed the trailer to some teenagers I trust for their feedback. They nixed the voice. Jeff found a second voice-over artist, Julie Smith, who was a closer match to Gaia, and she recorded the script for us twice. Six drafts in, we ran it by the Mac people and my agent again for feedback, and we tweaked some more. By seven drafts, we were finished.
Thank you, Jeff!
Aside from being fun, working on this trailer has given me an interesting, different way to think about my characters and the mood of my book. I expected an image of an orange would fit in somewhere, but it didn’t. I never would have guessed that a clothesline in the wind could capture a feeling for my book, but does.
Take a look: Go, Gaia!