Like many folks I know, I wasn't familiar with the growing trend to produce a mini motion picture to promote a book. I love movies as much as writing novels, so when I discovered this exciting outlet for spreading the word about my breakout novel, I was all in.
I referred to book trailers as motion pictures because, in my opinion, that's what they are, at least the effective ones. Unfortunately, anything short of a major film production comes across as a boring PowerPoint slide show.
So, I hired a film crew. Well, to be honest, I recruited them, my wife and teenage children.
I had a blast shooting video footage for the trailer. My reluctant cast and crew, however, often questioned the sanity of it all. Armed with our Canon Rebel digital SLR camera, we were spotted around town filming in peculiar situations, drawing questioning stares from passersby.
What scenes we couldn't film on our own, I gathered from freely licensed video clips in Creative Commons libraries. Many a late night were spent on the couch, combing through Flickr and Vimeo on my laptop in search of those elusive scenes.
With my hard drive filled to capacity by high definition video, I was ready to condense them into a two minute book trailer. I learned quickly that producing an award winning presentation wasn't going to be cheap. But as a frugal author on a shoe-string budget, I managed to keep the total cost of the project to under a hundred big ones. Yep, you read that right, under a hundred bucks.
You may be wondering how I managed to rack up expenses at all, having a team of volunteer labor at my side. The answer is simple: Adobe After Effects.
At risk of sounding like a promotion for Adobe products, I have to say there is no substitute. Yes, there are free video editing tools out there, such as Windows Movie Maker, but After Effects provided the pizazz my trailer needed. Everything else offered nothing more than cut and splice video editing.
The key to cutting costs with Adobe After Effects was planning and preparation. Since the After Affects software was licensed for use on a month-by-month basis through their Creative Cloud product line, getting my trailer polished and ready for the big screen in one month was crucial. I made several novice mistakes and stretched the production into two months, doubling my costs unnecessarily.
There were other expenses I arguably might have avoided. I fell in love with a soundtrack that gave off the vibe I was seeking, so I licensed it for a whopping $15. There were free alternatives available through Creative Commons, but I discovered these well into production, and by then it was too late; I was committed to my original pick. For me, it was well worth the meager license fee.
Admittedly, my writing took a back seat during the production period, another small sacrifice in the quest for a video trailer of epic proportions.
After countless hours of video manipulation and effects processing, our mini motion picture finally made its debut, live on YouTube for the whole world to enjoy. Cue the crickets.
I boast in jest about the stunning visual production, but I'm truly proud of the book trailer put together by my outstanding cast and crew. Feel free to view our accomplishment here, and by all means, share the video with your friends and family.