Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Making a book trailer

One of the things a writer needs to do once a book is published is to promote it. Many authors do not feel comfortable with this (myself included), but it's a necessary evil. There are millions of novels out there. How do you get the message out that yours is now available in the seemingly-infinite soukh of physical and cyber books?

One of the things I decided to do was to create a 3-minute book trailer for No Angel Hotel. But what images and footage to use to best give the flavour of the novel to tempt a potential reader?

The first task was to create a short synopsis that would, hopefully, create interest. Not an easy thing to do. Writing a synopsis is similar to what Flaubert said about writing a novel; it's like trying to put the sea into a carafe. I finally managed to "bottle" a minute's worth of plot on which images could then be overlaid.

I have friends who are award-winning photographers and they generously allowed me to use their images. Then there was some hand-held footage filmed in Cabourg years ago. And I was also able to use several of the covers the graphic designer had come up with for both the front and back covers. Line of Sight had given me a choice of six covers and I was able to use four of them in the trailer. 

Music was a hugely important consideration. I had originally decided to use Eric Satie's "Gymnopédie No 3" as the soundtrack, but while I was compiling source material for the video, I was playing one of my favourite songs, "Blue" by Joni Mitchell. The album by the same name came out in 1971, only a few years after the late 60s when much of NAH is set, but as I worked, I realised the song was the perfect backdrop. So many of the images I'd chosen for the trailer were blue and the mood of the book is blue and, for much of the novel, the main character is "blue".

As Mitchell said herself in 1979 about the Blue album, "there's hardly a dishonest note in the vocals. At that period of my life, I had no personal defenses. I felt like a cellophane wrapper on a pack of cigarettes. I felt like I had absolutely no secrets from the world and I couldn't pretend in my life to be strong. Or to be happy. But the advantage of it in the music was that there were no defenses there either." A lot like the heroine, Elkie Bonner, in No Angel Hotel. 

Even if you have no desire to buy the book, listen to the trailer, just for Joni and for three minutes be serenaded by her sad angel's eloquent voice.

Stay tuned . . .