Tammy Barley’s roots run deep and wide across the United States. With such ancestors as James Butler “Wild Bill” Hickok, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Henry David Thoreau, she essentially inherited her literary vocation and her preferred setting: the Wild West. An avid equestrian, Tammy has ridden horseback over western mountains and has a special place in her heart for the Sierra Nevadas. Love’s Rescue, book one of the new Sierra Chronicles, went into its second printing only five weeks after its release. The book has won second place in the Golden Rose Contest’s inspirational category, reached #11 on ChristianBooks.com’s historical fiction bestseller list, has received dozens of five-starred reviews, and is being considered for translation and distribution in Europe. You can visit her at http://tammybarley.com/
A Book Trailer to Deliver Punch, Passion, and Promotion
Windows Movie Maker—is there a 12-step program to overcome an addition to it? No? Well then, all I have to do is write novels fast enough to keep up with my Book-Trailer-production addiction!
Initially, when I realized I
needed to make a trailer to tell folks about my book, I faced
challenges aplenty—enough to structure an entire story line G-M-C, with
emphasis on the conflict:
I needed to deliver punch, reveal the passion of the story . . . and set up the promotion. Oy! Conflict!
In all seriousness (though only temporarily), I had no idea what I was doing when I began making the trailer (anyone identify?), but I knew it had to go above and beyond in order to interest readers in Love’s Rescue, since I’m a new romance author with significant competition. However, I’m the most determined person I’ve ever met (too bad men don’t find that charming), and I pour my heart and soul into everything I do.
Punch. The trailer needed punch to grip the viewer, yes, but it also needed punch because my story and characters are bold. Sweet, gentle music and images wouldn’t have been a good fit, though I included two images with totally cute baby animals to appeal to sweet, gentle readers, and because newborn animals are part of what draws the main character, Jess, to the hero and his ranch, the way of life she didn’t know she’d been searching for. So the dramatic images and music had to match the emotional tones in the novel.
Also, since I wrote the book to be larger than life, perhaps even Hollywood-worthy (any point in dreaming small?), the trailer also had to be Hollywood-worthy. Instead of WWJD, I thought, WWJCD (What Would James Cameron Do?).
Passion. Jake and Jess—the two main characters in Love’s Rescue—are both passionate about what they love and believe in, and that passion is woven into every page in the book. It’s a romance with elements of suspense and adventure, and the trailer had to reflect that romance, suspense, and adventure . . . that passion—the specific kind of emotional tones in the novel.
Promotion. To introduce readers to Love’s Rescue and the Sierra Chronicles, I’m giving away a one-week vacation for two to a Western guest ranch resort in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. (Readers answer ten questions about the book on my Web site and are entered into the drawing.) The trailer had to make the reader want to travel back in time to the West, had to make them want to be on a ranch, so that when news of the contest unfolded at the end, the viewer is ready to be hit by happy darts.
Since I am a new romance author and few readers would have heard of me (though I’m also a ghostwriter and editor for some fairly well-known folks, and my name appears in a number of books as editor), readers needed to know that this book is highly recommended, so I opened it with high praise from a few of their favorite—well-known—authors.
How I Did It (Remember those words from the movie Young Frankenstein? Gene Wilder’s character read those words on his grandfather’s diabolical diary of monster making. Great movie, but I digress.)
Color The images in my trailer had to match the colors I subtly make use of in the novel (generally warm colors for warm emotions, cold colors and shadows for cold emotions), so I chose an image to match the emotional tone of each story element.
Zoom At the beginning of the novel (and trailer), the main
character leaves her home in Kentucky; the photograph of Kentucky is pulled away from the viewer. The character moves to Nevada Territory; the photograph of wagon tracks leading across an endless prairie zooms toward the reader.
To reveal rises of story action and emotion (timed to hit the upbeats in the music), images zoom toward the reader, grow nearer, larger. To reveal falls of story action and emotion (timed to the downbeats in the music), the images grow distant, smaller.
Fade To reflect the rolling tone of the historical romance genre and the novel, I faded each image in and out, with one intentional exception: I cut directly to the first image the viewer sees of the hero, Jake—a cowboy on a running horse in focus, the background blurred around him to reveal his speed of entry into the scene. This provides a subtle but palpable jolt to women’s heartstrings, and sets up the viewer to love the hero.
Cover Images At my request, Whitaker House graciously provided the three images the art department combined for the book cover. I could have found other images at iStockPhoto.com, but the ones that appear on the cover threaded into the trailer telling of the tale reinforce viewer recognition and emotional connection, so when they see the book online or in a store, they think, “Yes! That’s the book I want!”
Cool Movie Maker Options I Didn’t Use Every element I used in the trailer had to reflect the genre and novel. Cool modern-day image options, such as spin-into-view, would have felt gimmicky and pushed the viewer away from the story.
Just as every element included in a novel needs two or more reasons for being there, so the Book Trailer video images and the way they are presented need two or more reasons for being there.
Timing I worried over the trailer’s being too long, since I wanted to use the entire piece of music, which is fabulous—my composer son selected it. I tried to shorten the trailer, but the words flashed by too fast to be read. And if that happens, the viewer isn’t going to watch the trailer or purchase the book.
I also used the music as I mentioned above in Zoom to underscore the plot and emotional impact.
So . . . Does the Book Trailer accomplish all that? Does it deliver punch, passion, and set up the promotion? Well, the book went into its second printing five weeks after it was released; perhaps it did. I’m totally jazzed with how the trailer turned out—and once I overcame the significant conflicts, I loved putting it together—but I’ll let you decide.
In the meantime, I’m starting to twitch and develop symptoms of withdrawal, so I’d better get started on the next Windows Movie Maker Book Trailer while I wait patiently for James Cameron to call.
Best wishes on your trailer!