December 30, 2010

Technology 101: Book Trailers

I told you I was off to work on the book trailer for April Fool, Phyllis!, and I am.  But let me assure you, it is uphill work!

I read an article or a blog post somewhere (sorry, no idea where) which described people as falling into one of two categories: digital natives and digital immigrants.  My children are digital natives - they have grown up with computers and other electronic devices of all kinds and seem to have an innate understanding of how they function.  They also have no fear whatsoever of experimenting with said devices to see what they can do.  I, on the other hand, am most definitely a digital immigrant.  Technology of all kinds eludes me.  I require large amounts of handholding to try anything beyond Microsoft Word, and I am afraid to experiment lest I cause my computer to spontaneously combust, thereby costing me my ability to check my email 4,000 times a day and play Sporcle.

So you can see how creating a book trailer could be uphill work!

There are some famous authors out there whose publishing houses get their book trailers made by professionals.  I am not one of them.  There are other slightly less famous authors out there who do well enough to pay a professional to make book trailers for them.  I am not one of them either.

I use imovie and badger my computer-savvy children with endless questions until I hack my way through the trailer.  Possibly not the most efficient or popular method, but it gets the job done.  If you're interested in viewing my hack jobs thus far, please click this link: SLHILLYouTubeChannel

(While you're there, please feel free to subscribe to my channel, "like" the trailers, and/or write glowing reviews marveling over the creative and technological genius clearly at work behind both books and trailers :))

This is how it works.  I turn on imovie (I can do this because all I have to do is click on it.)  Then I can't remember what to do next, so I shriek loudly, "HELP!" at which point one of my long-suffering children comes to my aid.  This happens a few more times while I import images and color blocks for text.  This is followed by a long period of pondering exactly how I want to use the images and what I want the trailer to accomplish.  Some confuse this period with daydreaming or playing TextTwist, but I promise you, it is all about intense thinking.

Once I decide where I'm headed, I just have to put it all together.  This, unfortunately, is a very nit-picky job requiring A LOT of patience, a commodity of which I am in short supply.  I am frequently forced to sustain myself with oatmeal raisin cookies and excessive caffeine in order to soldier on through.  I then make everyone in the house watch the result numerous times and give feedback, which is followed by more tweaking and the members of my household becoming mysteriously hard to locate.

But when at last the trailer is done, I love having it.

Opinions vary as to whether book trailers are useful in any way, but here is my theory: in this day and age of online shopping, consumers looking for books are not in a position to pick them up and leaf through them to get a feel for what the books are like.  A book trailer gives you a little of that experience.  Ideally, a person looking to buy your book can click on the trailer and get an experience similar to holding it and skimming through it in the book store.  I think that's helpful, especially with picture books where the art plays such an important role.  So that is why I make them.

What are your thoughts on book trailers?  Do you watch them?  Do you find them helpful?  Do they influence your decision to buy or not to buy?

And now, back to work.  I'll let you know when this one is done, but don't hold your breath.  Any spontaneous and completely unsolicited mailings of sustaining cookies and/or chocolate will be much appreciated!

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