Coming soon: video book trailer for ‘The Murder Plague’; I join the video revolution

I have decided to produce a video.

I never expected to hear those words come out of my fingers. I don’t even watch videos. I certainly don’t know the first thing about producing one. And I’m way too cheap to contract with some video production company and say, “Make ‘The Murder Plague’ look really cool.”

Yet pre-publication book trailers, modeled after pre-release movie trailers, are all the rage right now. And I have to admit, they seem to be a potentially powerful tool in building a platform and buzz.

I can hear the conversation now with a potential agent:

“What are you doing to build an audience?”

“Seen my video yet on YouTube? I got 37 views so far!”

It almost seems like a must-do, like this blog, or joining various on-line writer communities. Another new entry fee into the published author world.

Now, how do I produce a really cool, highly-professional looking, exciting, inviting, suspenseful, even viral-worthy book trailer, for, say, $100 or less. Because even $100 is more than I am accustomed to spending on myself.

Here’s how:

First, I viewed a few on YouTube. Like everything else, book trailers range from true crap to wow, that’s really cool. A few of them are being produced by the book publishers and a few by indie authors themselves. They range from 30 seconds to about 3 minutes.

Some have incredible computer animation, like Mike Lupica’s ‘Hero.’ Some hired professional actors to act out various scenes, like Jessica Brody’s ‘The Karma Club.’

I mentioned my $100 budget, right?

Fortunately, there seem to be some very intriguing, very simple videos out there, like Helen Drayton’s ‘The Crystal Bird.’ In fact, I think some of the simpler ones are more appealing.

Of course, having those big-dollar productions also means investing in marketing, and that does seem to have one effect. Drayton’s video, when I found it, had 39 views so far. Brody’s had 48,000. There were other book trailers that had hundreds of thousands of views.

But I digress.

How do I do this for $100 without embarrassing myself?

Next, I came up with a simple concept. No actual video, just slide images that can be relatively easy to produce, and a voice-over reading of a few suspenseful dialogue excerpts from the book. I would need someone who can make the images look nice, someone to read the excerpts “script” and someone who could put it all together, maybe with a couple of sound effects thrown in here and there.

Then I wrote a script.

The voice talents will work for free, or maybe for a lunch, because I’m going to rely on family and friends. No one gets more than three or four lines. How hard can it be for them to read them convincingly? I can stand over them as “director” and crack my whip and yell, “No, no, no, no! You’re in pain. You lost your wife. I don’t FEEL it. Make me FEEL it. OK, let’s go. Come on people! From the top again.”

That leaves a need for someone with professional audio, video and computer graphic arts skills who will work cheap.

Enter Full Sail University. I happen to be fortunately located, living just down the street from one of the nation’s biggest and most successful audio/video/graphic arts technical colleges. In fact, in the Starbucks where I now sit, as I look around I know that about half of the other customers are Full Sail students. You can always tell them by looking at them. Don’t ask. You can tell.

So I went to Full Sail’s career placement office a couple of days ago and made my pitch and asked if it was possible to hire a hungry student or a hungry recent graduate who can do audio, video and computer graphic design. It is. The going rate is $150 a day for such young techno-wizards, but the placement counselor said I probably could find someone hungry enough to work for $100 a day. Although the school has an impressive list of alumni who work on just about every cool movie and CD you’ve seen or heard in the past 10 or 15 years, yes, it’s true, not everyone gets a job right away. Some of their graduates probably are serving coffee in this Starbucks.

And, the counselor agreed after looking at my script, this could maybe be done in a day.

So he entered my request in the computer and sent it out, and told me to start expecting replies in a few days, complete with resumes and samples of work. If I get positive responses I can pick someone, negotiate a final deal and get right to work.

This should be fun. And if it doesn’t work out to my high expectations, well, I’m out $100. I’ll keep you posted.

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