Tag Archives: Book Trailer

Uncharted Space

If you missed Donna’s eye-opening blog post last week about her To Do List sixteen days before her book launches, check it out here. I’ve also been thinking a lot about my own pre-pub-date To Do List. Even though my own book doesn’t launch until December 1st, it feels like the date is approaching at high speed. Maximum warp, in fact. In the back of my head, I can hear Captain Jean-Luc Picard exhorting me to “Engage!”


I might not be helming the Enterprise into deep space, but I am trying to steer my book into readers’ hands. So I’m taking his directive to heart, figuring out how to engage potential readers of my book after (and even before) it releases. Here are a few of the things I’ve been doing:


  • Researching printers for business cards, postcards, bookmarks, and other paper swag. This involves making dozens of seemingly monumental decisions. Matte or glossy paper? (Tip: choose at least one matte side if you want to write on it later.) Square or rounded corners? (Rounded. So I can’t poke myself in the eye with it.) Stickers or bookplates or magnets? (Um, maybe.) Where is a replicator when I need one?


  • Setting up my SCBWI Book Blast page. This is a promotional event that will be run by SCBWI from October 10 – November 18, 2016. The templates provided made setting up my page so easy, I didn’t feel like I needed an android to help me.



  • Teaching myself how to use iMovie. Okay, maybe I didn’t really teach myself. I watched a couple of great YouTube tutorials and then dived in. There was a lot of trial and error. The Undo button was my BFF. But over the course of a week, I was able to put together a simple book trailer. It’s not the holodeck, but I’m pretty proud of it.


  • Taking advantage of events organized by others, such as Trick or Reaters, a spook-tacular program to “make Halloween a day to discover stories and literature.” Run by Curious City and sponsored by EMLA, this event is less frightening than a Ferengi and way more cool.



I’m trying to heed the advice to only do as much promotion and marketing as I’m comfortable with, but it’s hard. I want so badly for my book to engage readers and it’s easy to feel like I’m not doing enough. I want to have an event kit and a teacher’s guide, but I know those things are beyond my current abilities. I’ve decided to delegate those pieces to other, more qualified people, and I trust them to “make it so.” Despite that, I’m filled with a nagging sense that there is still so much left to do. As a debut author, I often feel like I’m steering through uncharted space, never sure what is beyond the next bend (wormhole?), not confident that I can make it. But, as Capt. Picard said:


Andrea Wang

Andrea Wang’s debut picture book, THE NIAN MONSTER (Albert Whitman, December 2016), is a Chinese New Year folktale retelling set in modern-day Shanghai. She has also written seven nonfiction books for the educational market.

Andrea spent most of her first grade year reading under the teacher’s desk, barricaded by tall stacks of books. Now she sits at her desk, but she’s still happiest surrounded by piles of books. Andrea is a former environmental consultant who helped clean up hazardous waste sites. She lives in Colorado with her husband, two sons, and a plump dumpling of a rescue dog. She loves trying new foods and named her dog Mochi, after one of her favorite desserts.

You can find Andrea online at her website, on Twitter, and on Instagram.


Filed under Book Promotion, Promotion

Making a Book Trailer

A couple months back, I made my first book trailer. This was a lot of fun, in part because it tapped the artistic side of my brain that wasn’t dealing with editing. For some, creating a book trailer can be intimidating. Some are worried about the expense, others are worried about the tech side of things.  As TALKER 25 nears its glowing birth into the world, I thought I’d show you how I created mine and provide tips to hopefully make it easier to create yours.

STEP 1: Script

You gotta plot your trailer before anything else. It’s a query in A/V form. You want to give a sense of your book without giving too much away. You don’t want to make your trailer too long because unless you’ve got some great connections, your trailer’s gonna rely on visuals and sounds that just don’t compare to movie trailers.

What you have that movie trailers don’t (or at least don’t usually have well) are your words. Your words are your weapons. Employ them. Sparingly though. Like in a query, you can’t explore everything. KISS it. Keep It Short & Stimulating.

My script:

15 years ago dragons came to our world. Reds. Greens. And the wingless Blues.

They attacked without warning… Entire cities were wiped off the map.

Millions were buried beneath the rubble… or incinerated.

The end of humanity seemed imminent.

But then humans discovered the dragons’ weakness and it was the dragons’ turn to die.

The war between monster and man finally seems over. Most of the dragons have been killed or imprisoned on reservations and there hasn’t been a major attack in North America in three years [Note: this particular line is almost word for word the one I used in my query]

But the real war is just about to begin.

And at the center of it… is a girl they call…


Choose a Side. April 22, 2014

STEP 2: Make it more exciting

The words above are not words I’d write in a book. They may or may not be interesting alone. Thankfully, we’re not just limited to words. We can frame them with pictures, sounds, etc. We can add pauses and beats for effect. Yay!

But, oh shit, now we’ve actually gotta figure out how to make that razzle-dazzle of media make sense with our words. Do we want lots of pictures? Do we want just a few, where we fade in or out on them to create mood/texture? Are we illustrators who have the time to create our own imagery? What about sounds? Do we want ambient noises? Music?…

This is where most of the work usually comes. It’s storyboarding on a micro-level with additional aspects.

If you want pictures, there are plenty of websites to get them. I got mine from Shutterstock. But that costs money (since I needed pics for my T25 tie-in website www.kissing-dragons.com, I decided to shell out the coin). If you don’t want to spend money and you’re not a digital artist or brilliant photographer, I’d recommend creativecommons.org. 

When using media, make sure that you don't infringe on copyright, and attribute it if necessary.

When using media, make sure that you don’t infringe on copyright, and attribute it if necessary.

If you want to spruce up your trailer with sound, Creative Commons is a great place to start as well. I also found a ton of great clips at http://freesound.org/. The caveat here is that there are different licenses for these sounds, some which require attribution, and some which are noncommercial (which you should not use).

For my trailer, I wanted to add in some music tracks… sci-fi type/war-type stuff to help further generate the mood I wanted (mystery with a dark edge). An excellent website I found for this is https://www.pond5.com/, where you can pay for individual clips (most run from $1 – $5).

Odds are, until you actually start creating your trailer, you’re not gonna know exactly which sounds/pics/media are gonna fit best. You’re drafting here, so give yourself some wiggle room.


Now we’ve got to put it all together. If you’ve got a tech background, this can be kind of fun. If not, this can be quite paralyzing. There’s plenty of free editing software out there. The easier ones to use (e.g., Windows Movie Maker, iMovie) are somewhat limited, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing (particularly if you’re not too fond of computers). Others are pretty powerful, but require lots of pre-learning, which in my mind isn’t worth it.

I wanted something that was somewhat easy to use, but also pretty powerful. And since I like to do video-editing on the side for myself, I purchased and downloaded CyberLink PowerDirector12.

Given my kitchen sink tendencies, I wanted to get a little fancy with my sounds (layering, fading, etc.) so I downloaded Audacity, an impressive and fairly easy to use audio mixing program. Best of all, it’s free. I also did some image manipulation using GIMP, kind of like Photoshop, but free.

STEP 4: Putting it together.

Once you’ve figured out your software, figured out which pics, sounds, etc, you’re gonna use, you’ve got to put your puzzle together. Getting all the pieces to line up usually isn’t too hard, but making them fit just so can be tricky. You’ve got to play around with timing, leading-in and leading-out, transitions, etc. A different form of revision.

To me, this looks like fun! It's not everybody's cup o' Joe though.

To me, this looks like fun! It’s not everybody’s cup o’ Joe though.

NOTE: If the software side of things is beyond the pale for you, you can always skip steps 2 – 4 and outsource your trailer to professionals, like those at WaveCloud.

A trio of book trailers:

  • Adi purchased one image, but otherwise made her amazing trailer entirely for free.
  • The second trailer was one made via WaveCloud (and cost at least $299 to make according to current pricing).
  • Not including the cost of a month’s subscription to Shutterstock, the overall cost of making my trailer (software+sounds) was roughly $100. I’m going to make a trailer for my Kissing Dragons website, too, at some point, but that won’t cost me anything since I’ve already got the pics, software, and sounds I need.

Ultimately, before making a book trailer, you should ask yourself: Is it worth it? If you don’t have a big platform (e.g., high-profile author, lots of twitter followers, etc.), the answer could very well be no. A few people might see your trailer on your website, YouTube, Goodreads, etc., but will that translate to sales? Is the time expenditure and potential cost worth an extra book or two sold?

For me, the answer was yes. I enjoy the visual medium. It was a nice break from the written one. Also, along with my tie-in website, my trailer allowed me to provide some backstory that was either not included in my book or was nixed from it. This makes a kitchen-sinker like me very happy.


JM AP Close_Straight

Joshua McCune is the author of the Talker 25 trilogy (Greenwillow). Dragons, war, romance (though not with  dragons – I don’t do bestiality). First one drops April 22, 2014. For more info, visit www.joshua-mccune.com or www.kissing-dragons.com


Filed under Uncategorized

Geeks, Girls and Secret Identities: The Unofficial, Abnormal Book Trailer

When Mike told me that Steven Spielberg, Martin Scorcese *and* Pee Wee Herman were unavailable to film his book trailer, I jumped on the opportunity!

But some people think maybe I shouldn’t have.


Filed under Book Promotion, Celebrations