Posts Tagged ‘movie trailer’

Making a Movie Trailer for Your Book: A Focus on Individual Image Creation

I mentioned in my earlier blog, the Modus Operandi for creating a specific image that will appear in my movie trailer blog follows a certain process. That includes previewing rough drafts of the image, suggestions for changes, stamp of approval on a final rough draft, then the final completed image.

I’d like to walk you through that process for one image here.

When working with the artist, David Greene, I first emailed him a list of descriptions – one for each image – and then I sat down with him and verbally clarified what I’d like to see for the image we were currently working on. When necessary I even drew very rudimentary stick figures for him, but mostly he was keen enough to understand right away what I was looking for.

After the first image he made for me, I had a good idea how fast (and talented) he was at making the rough drafts and how he could adjust on the fly. That filled me with enough confidence to be fairly demanding when making suggestions for changes.

For the most recent image we were working on I sent him the written description: “Image1 (Black and White, pencil/charcoal): Patrick is on his knees before a burning Jerusalem circa 1099 AD. He is wearing chainmail with a white surcoat over it. The surcoat is smeared with soot and blood. It also has a red cross emblazoned on the chest (classic ‘Crusader’ style). The cross should be bright red and the only color in the image. Patrick has a ‘What have I done?’ look on his face and his arms hang limply at his sides. A Norman style helmet (conical cap with nose card, a la ‘Bayeaux Tapestry’) rests up-ended on the ground near his knees as if he just took it off, set it down, and it is in the process of rolling away.”

After a brief discussion, David took the idea and ran with it. Within a couple of days he had these rough drafts for me:

Image "A" Provided by David Greene

Image "B" Provided by David Greene











Both were great starts, but I did not like the angle. I did not want to see a full frontal image. I suggested that I’d like to see the character more at an angle. Soon David had this image to show me:


Kneeling-Face Covered

I liked it much better, but now I was concerned about the character covering his face. I wanted a viewer to see the pain on the character’s face, imparting the significance of the moment. Again David adjusted and came up with this:

Kneeling, face exposed-but now not enough of an angle

Closer. I suggested a compromise between the last two images – the previous image’s angle, plus the exposed face. Also, I made the final suggestions of having the character looking skyward. David excitedly accepted the suggestions and in a few days I gave the stamp of approval after seeing this:

Final Rough Draft Approved for Green Light

My final input was to point out that I envisioned the character having an appearance similar to that of Brandon Lee, the actor and son of Bruce Lee who tragically died while filming The Crow. I even emailed links of Google images of Brandon. That turned out to be unnecessary, as David was already familiar with, and a fan of, the actor.

After all this back-and-forth, all the nit-picking on my part, and the tweaking. David came up with this final awesome image:

Final Image - "Patrick at the Fall of Jerusalem"

My friends and colleagues were just as astounded as I was (though, due to technical difficulties, the image here is blurry and does not do the final image justice). I received a print out of the image just in time for a book signing where I put it prominently on display. I’m fairly certain it went a long way towards selling more books than I normally would have. Customers are much more willing to buy a product when they have a clearer image of what the product has to offer – in this case a clear image of what transpires in the pages of Echoes of Avalon.

Which brings up an interesting point: Even after these images have been used in a movie trailer, they still will be quite effective by themselves as promotional tools for all sorts of occasions for a long time to come. Money well spent.

These images, and future ones, can be found on the Echoes of Avalon Facebook page. Check them out here:

Making a Movie Trailer for Your Book: The First Steps

This is the first in a series of blog entries that will be documenting the process I’m taking to create a “movie” trailer promotion for my book.

I’ve always wanted a kick-ass “movie” trailer promotion for my book, Echoes of Avalon, but always felt that it would either cost a butt-load of money, or take a butt-load of time. Turns out both are mostly true. Mostly.

Naturally, the quality of your final product is directly proportional to the amount of money and time you put into it, but they are not entirely the only resources you have to rely on. Patience, networking, and luck can fall in your favor if you just let them. I could have gone off half-cocked a long time ago and made a crappy trailer that ideally  would  have used one of those production companies that use live actors, costumes, the whole nine-yards. If I had, I’m certain two things would have happened: 1. I would have spent a lot of money (somewhere in the neighborhood of of at least $1,000) and 2. No matter how well meaning the production company or how much effort they put into it, the trailer would still not be truly “movie” quality and kind of cheesy. Something I DO NOT want associated with my book.

So, I waited patiently until the time was right. Rather, I waited until the right guy came along. A friend of a friend, David Greene of Vancouver, WA,  is an incredible artist and since he is not (yet) a “professional” artist, his prices are in the realm of possibility. After viewing the samples of his  drawings and colorings on his Facebook page I knew he had the skill and range I was looking for.

I’ve seen several effective trailers that used only still images that were manipulated with a laptop’s movie-making software. By just simply zooming in on specific points, panning the “camera” across the image, throw in some text or audio, set it all to an epic soundtrack, and–viola!–you have a decent, cost effective and un-pretentious trailer. That’s  my plan: Use a handful of still images, ranging from black&whites, to vivid color. I want to show the evolution that transpires in my book as the main character, Sir Patrick, goes from historical Medieval Europe (black and white images) to the Isle of Avalon (water colors) to the Fairy Realm beyond the curtain of “reality” (photoshop colors). Dull to vivid.

Our mutual friend connected us on Facebook, we met in real life, I told him what I was looking for, he said he could do it, and we agreed to terms. We even drew up a simple contract that bullet-pointed the specifics: A total of 8 images created at a rate of no less than one a month, at $100 an image, payable upon completion and hand-off of each image. He has already done a couple rough drafts (shown in this blog) on one of the ideas, just to confirm that is what I’m looking for. I was very impressed and gave him the green light to complete it. I imagine that will be the MO from here on out: rough drafts, stamp of approval, completion.

Once that is done, I’ll work on the movie editing software. I still haven’t decided if that is something I’ll do myself, work with someone to get me started on doing it yself, or yet again pay someone to do it all. It will all depend on how busy my day-job-life goes.

Stay tuned. My pain will by your gain.

From the Synopsis to The Pitch: Promoting Your Writing

If you write, chances are you do it for one reason: To share your writing with others. Few, if any of us, write something just so that we can stick it in a drawer never to be seen again. We aspire to be story tellers on the grandest of scales. The Holy Grail of story telling is to publish so we can reach a world wide audience. To achieve that goal, we must do many things. From me, to you, to Stephen King we are obligated to jump through many hoops to promote our stories. One of the most common hoops is to simply explain our story to whomever will listen.

For example: You’re at a cocktail party and someone approaches you, saying, “I heard you wrote something. Tell me about it.” You’re being asked for a brief over view. A summary…a synopsis. Which is precisely the same thing a publisher or agent will ask when you approach them for representation. It is also what a bookstore owner or manager will ask when, as a self published author, you inquire if they will sell your book on their shelves. They first need to know what it’s about, and briefly.

If you can’t give them a memorable synopsis, you won’t get very far. It’s also important to realize there are different kinds of summaries to give depending on who you are addressing. A publisher or agent will eventually want to know the entire plot to determine marketability. An individual or bookstore, however, doesn’t want to know the ending, they just want to be intrigued enough to consider purchasing. Regardless of your audience, your summary must start out the same: With an attention grabbing line or phrase somewhere in your introduction that hooks the audience into learning more.

“Hook” is the appropriate literary term for this device. An entire book could be written on the topic of hooks alone. In fact, there is a literary agent who devoted a portion of her blog to hooks and invited readers to participate in a “best hook” competition. She no longer blogs but you can learn much by reading her archive at

For a publisher or agent the hook will figure prominently in your query letter, which is a single page document that introduces yourself and your story while seeking representation. Once you’ve grabbed their attention, the rest of your synopsis should seal the deal and make them take the next step. They will either ask for a full blown synopsis, an outline, sample chapters, or all the above.

As mentioned, an individual or bookstore will not ask for that much information. Their summary will be more succinct as will be their hook which will be more like the tag line you hear during a movie trailer or see on a poster. They should be motivated to buy your book immediately (or at least tell others about it, effectively becoming your viral marketing).  A summary given to this audience is called “The Pitch” (as in sales pitch, because that is essentially what it is). You want it long enough to give all the intriguing details, but short enough that you don’t lose their attention. It is very similar to what job seekers and self-promoters call an “Elevator Speech.” It’s just long enough to sell yourself while you have a potential employer or client trapped with you in an elevator.

If I were trapped with you in an elevator, my pitch might sound like this:

Every fairy tale has a grain of truth to it. If you could go back in time and see the actual event that inspired a fairy tale chances are, because people are as complex as they are, it would be far more interesting than the resulting childhood fantasy. That is what I had in mind when I wrote my novel ‘Echoes of Avalon’—a fairy tale for grown ups. It starts out in Medieval history as Sir Patrick, an Irish knight returns from the First Crusade in the Holy Lands. He’s lost his faith in people and God and is haunted by an apparition that follows him, pointing accusingly. In this state a stranger finds him and offers a new beginning as a knight protector on the fabled Isle of Avalon. Skeptical, but with few options, Patrick takes the offer. From here the story slips into the realm of fantasy as Patrick is introduced to ghost, goblins, and talking wolves on an island harboring a secret academy filled with the youth of the world’s nobility. It is here Patrick is tempted to believe again…and fall in love. That is until the ultimate villain arrives with sinister plans for the island, and the woman in Patrick’s life. Patrick soon learns that before he can battle monsters, he must first defeat his demons.

That clocks in just under a minute. Plenty of time for an elevator and it won’t lose anyone’s attention over coffee or cocktails.

It’s not enough to write a great story. You have to share it by first promoting it. The most fundamental task of promoting is simply giving your listener an intriguing summary. Hone your pitch. Craft your synopsis. It’s worth it.

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