Thursday, October 1, 2009

How to Create a Book Trailer: A Q&A with Author Megan McMorris

So many authors are scrambling to learn how to create a book trailer (video) for their books that I thought a Q&A with an author who created her own -- and did a fantastic job! -- would be helpful to others.

Megan McMorris is the editor of P.S. What I Didn't Say: A Collection of 36 Unsent Letters to Our Female Friends, an anthology that is selling like bread and milk when a blizzard is predicted -- you just have to have it! When I saw Megan's book trailer, I was impressed. When I found out that (a) she did it herself and (b) it was the first one she's created, I was amazed. I asked her to tell us about how she put it together; here's a transcript of our conversation followed by the video.

Sandy: Megan, I love your book trailer for P.S. What I Didn't Say. What will you do with the trailer -- how will you use it to promote your book?

Megan: Well, so far I’ve posted it on various sites like YouTube, my publisher Seal Press’s site, and the Web site I created for the book. I didn’t know a thing about book trailers before I started this, but while researching mine I found it can be a great way to get people engaged and interested in your book in a different way than words on a page can (I mean hey, who doesn’t like watching videos, right?).

Sandy: I know this is the first book trailer or video you've created, and I have to say I'm impressed. Let's talk about how you did it. What software did you use, and was it hard to pull all the pieces together?

Megan: Thanks! I simply looked around on my computer, and sure enough found some programs that were just little icons I’d ignored on my Mac before, like iMovie and Garage Band.

Sandy: I love the photos. Where did you get them? Did you have to pay to use any of them?

Megan: The pictures are either my own or from the contributors to the anthology, so I didn’t have to pay for any of them. I loved what they sent in, and only wished I could have used all of them!

Sandy: Music really sets the tone and you've made some great selections here for your trailer's "mood." Tell us about the music selection process as well as the permissions involved.

Megan: Here’s the story on that. For the main song, I wanted to go with something jazzy and upbeat, so I created a little reggae type of song through Garage Band. Then after I was searching through iTunes for my little ditty that I’d created, I was clicking here and there (see? You can tell I’ve never done this before, ha ha!) and was like “maybe this is it!” and all of a sudden, instead of my jazzy tune, it was this dramatic opera song that my childhood pal Diane sang last year (actually, that’s us in the picture on her wedding day, me helping her with her veil).

Once I clicked and started listening, after answering my question to “what the heck is this?” of course, I knew then that I had to use both songs, to convey both the cheerful and dramatic types of stories that are in this collection. As for permissions, since I created the one song I just asked myself if I could use it (and I agreed!), and simply shot Diane an e-mail to get her permission, so that part was a cinch!

Sandy: What was the easiest part of this whole process for you?

Megan: Creating the song through Garage Band was so incredibly easy that I was shocked. You just click on a type of music you want to play, and then you can play around with the different instruments to create different sounds within that song template. I’m no musician or composer, and they make it super-easy by already having some songs available, all you’re doing is mixing it up a little to suit your taste.

Sandy: And what was the hardest?

Megan: It was incredibly challenging to figure out how to create the actual nuts and bolts of the video. I do the “press every button within vicinity until it does what I want” approach, so that’s how I ended up doing it. But everything, from placing photos in the frames to figuring out the timing of each frame to putting words on there to laying the music down took a lot of time. But I was determined to do it myself!

Sandy: If you could share one tip with someone else creating their first book trailer, what would it be?

Megan: Be patient, you’ll figure it all out—I had never done this before and if I can do it, you can! Also, if I may, I watched a LOT of book trailers while I was researching this, and I like the ones that don’t take themselves too seriously. Have fun with it!

Sandy: Anything else?

Megan: Yes! I want to thank you, Sandy, for always being such a great supporter of book author’s publicity efforts. I really appreciate it and I’ve learned a lot from you since I’ve had the pleasure of taking your class and seeing your advice on the freelance boards!

Here's Megan's video. Let it inspire you!


1 comment:

kathy stemke said...

Thanks for an inspiring interview. I'm gonna jump in and make my own trailer for my first book too. You said I could do it. Thanks.