With Prince Thief out and the Tales of Easie Damasco officially complete, I thought this might be a nice opportunity to blog about something I've been itching to talk about for a while: the trailer that Jobeda, Bob Molesworth and I put together for Giant Thief.
Giant Thief had been out for a fair while before I had the time and resources to do a trailer, so it was always more of an experiment and a test-run than an actual marketing attempt. I'd been thinking about it for a while, I'd watched a few other attempts, and taken on board what I felt to be the obvious issue with book trailers: to whit, that they tend to be a bit rubbish.
The problem, I decided, was twofold. First, the fact that you're trying to represent a product that isn't visual in a visual medium, which often means slapping a bit of text together with a bit of music and hoping for the best. And second, following close on the heels of number one, that not many people have the budget to do a book trailer justice, especially when there doesn't seem to be much evidence that they actually help to sell books.
My main decisions, then, were to keep it short, to be willing to throw at least a bit of money at it, and to keep the text to a bare minimum. Fortunately, I had a couple of sizable advantages, in the shapes of a girlfriend with experience as a video editor and a professional artist friend whose style was a good fit for Giant Thief, the always-brilliant Mr Molesworth. Music was trickier, but the internet is heaving with sites where you can download stock music for a small fee, so in the end that mostly came down to having the patience to hunt around.*
Knowing what I had to work with, I put some thought into a concept: it made sense to play up Giant Thief's unusual, Hispanic / North African-styled setting, and since we were effectively making a silent movie, the film geek in me quickly gravitated to the idea of title cards. I wrote a short script, along with more elaborate descriptions of the individual frames for Bob, which I sent to him along with the relevant chunks of Giant Thief. Jobeda then cut everything together, animated it, found a suitable template and created the text inserts, and drew on the help of a friend to knock together a 3D graphic of the cover. After that, we spent time getting the pacing and rhythm right, making sure the text was up long enough to be readable, syncing everything with the music and generally tweaking until it felt right.
The final budget came out at around £100. Like I said, it was an experiment, and one I never expected to do anything but lose money on. Could it have been worth it, though, had I actually released the trailer before the book came out? For me, I doubt it. If I'd self published and done much more work to push it out there then maybe. But was it fun? Yeah, it was. I ended up with my own adorable Giant Thief movie, which I'll always have to watch and to get that horrid, marvellous little earworm of a tune stuck in my head again; that's worth a hundred pounds right there.
*It's worth noting, too, that you can pay drastically different rates on different sites for the same music ... shop around!