There’s a quaint bookstore in Santa Fe named Beastly Books. It’s next door to the Jean Cocteau Cinema, a small, boutique-level film theater that seats around a hundred people and is devoted to showing small-run films. Both of these, plus the upper floor offices in the multi-storied building, are owned by George R. R. Martin. George is the author of the Game of Thrones book series; he lives in Santa Fe.
If you’re ever in Santa Fe, you should visit Beastly Books. It has two rooms showcasing the books associated with Game of Thrones (including autographed editions), books associated with George (collections, as editor, etc.), popular games and gadgets associated with Game of Thrones and various off-shoots of the series, plus collectible items such as figurines, sculptures, and posters.
It also offers coffee, tea, and hot chocolate, should you want to sip on something while you browse.
Two additional rooms have shelves full of other fiction books, all personally selected by George or his entourage. Most of them are autographed by the authors. There is one rack of books that features local and Southwest authors and that’s what interests me: I’ve asked that Teddy’s War and The King of Trash be carried by the bookstore.
Fat chance. Being offered by the bookstore is a reviewed process. I sent in autographed copies of each book, they are being read and discussed by the bookstore manager and friends (probably not by George) and then a decision will be made. If selected, I will provide autographed copies on an as-needed basis, advertising materials, be available for author signings, and will provide a book trailer.
Book trailer? I didn’t even know what a “book trailer” was, though I assumed it was comparable to a movie trailer. I’d seen short video ads on TV and Facebook, and figured that that was what was being asked for. I have since learned that a book trailer is typically a short (around one minute) video that advertises a book. It can be as simple as a person holding up a book and telling about it (or reading an excerpt), or as complex as a Tom Cruise-type action sequence indicating that the book’s story is a thrilling escapade of adventure, danger, world-ranging daring, and impending death-for-the-hero events. Or it can be mysterious and noir, and have no narration. Similarly, it can be done as cheaply as zero cost, all the way to thousands of dollars per death-defying event or spooky subtones. It can have music, it can have special effects, it can have Morgan Freeman narrating, or it can be as boring as a video of a (literal) page turner that tells the title, publisher, cost, and source for purchasing.
No matter the presentation, the idea is to get the viewer to be aware of the book, or even to buy it.
I decided to experiment and make a book trailer for Teddy’s War, and it turned out to be a ton of fun.
First, I bought a video editor. You can buy one for a one-time cost, or a monthly or yearly fee. I prefer to pay up front rather than have a continuing deduction, so I bought Wondershare Filmora 9 for about $129. I chose it because I googled “video editors”, it had good enough reviews, and was cheap enough. I had seen a video editor being used by a friend, so I had a concept about the features it should provide. In retrospect, I might put more effort into researching for a better editor or getting a recommendation, but I was in the heat of the moment.
A video editor is just a piece of software that you buy, install (it does it for you), and run like a word processor, photograph sorter, or other application. In my case, I double-click on the icon; the video editor begins; uses the full screen of the monitor for a viewing window in the upper righthand corner that displays, at any time, the video that I’m creating; a window in the upper lefthand corner that gives me a choice of what I want to do (add a video, a photo, add text, use special effects…); and, across the bottom half of the screen, has a graphic showing the different video, audio, or text tracks that I’ve added. Displaying all of the tracks at any time shows what my video looks like at that time.
I’m trying to make it sound simple because it basically is. Throw in watching a few how-to videos from YouTube, and it only took three or four hours to build a short video in which I combined a personal video of Omaha Beach that I had taken last year with my SLR digital camera, a personal video that I had made using props on my kitchen table (with the same camera), a sound track that I recorded off the TV using my iPhone, a still photo, and several words of text that I overlayed in certain frames. I could also have used video and audio tracks from free-to-use libraries that came with the editor.
The final video I produced (exported from the video editor into a standard format so I can play it anywhere) is a good, first-try, 90-second, amateur video that shows a picture of my book, gives an idea of what it’s about, indicates that it has drama, intrigue, history, a WWII setting, and an emotional crisis for my character.
Not bad for a first try, and my second try was much better.
I’d post the URL so you can see it, but the music is not mine. I used a recording as a proof of concept so it’s no good to offer the video for public viewing.
Will George accept my book into his bookstore? If he does, then I have a couple of professional film maker friends who will help me turn my amateur version into a professional product that will become my official book trailer (and uses free music). If George doesn’t, then I may invest a little more effort to make it better and use it as part of my marketing efforts for Teddy’s War.
I’ll let you know what happens.
Don Willerton has been a reader all his life and yearns to write words like the authors he has read. He's working hard at it and invites others to share their experiences.