With four weeks until CODE RUNNER hits virtual bookshelves, it’s time to share the book trailer!

(You can find out more about Code Runner and the associated giveaway here)

But over here at Swords and Lattes, I know y’all expect a little more. So let me talk you through how this trailer came into being – consider this the DVD commentary of the Code Runner book trailer.

What is a book trailer?
It is a trailer for a book.

I admit, I was a little sceptical. Because my previous experience with book trailers was James Patterson’s latest novel turning up on my TV and me thinking “WTF this is the worst telemovie ever – oh no, wait, it’s a book”.

But I know from my short film efforts that folks love a good YouTube video. Short, sharp, to the point. Folks love visuals, and a shortcut to the main event. While I am not a natural viewer of video articles, I do now click Twitter pictures over reading articles to see if it’s worth my time.

With a novel, a good synopsis and an excerpt can work well. But a great cover can seal the deal and, if a video extra can entice an audience, I’m game. For Binary Witness, the lovely folks at Realm Pictures filmed me reading Chapter One. (You can see it here.) For Code Runner, I wanted to try something a little different.

Research
So, I started watching book trailers.

Some were great. Some were awful. So it is with all content everywhere.

Three trailers particularly struck me. The first was for Lauren Beukes’ The Shining Girls. It is very like a film trailer and fits the book’s plot and atmosphere very well. However, I don’t have the resources to film a one-minute short film for my book. I’m also not keen on giving my characters definite faces – characters are open to the readers’ imaginations and I don’t want to limit that.

The second was for JF Penn’s Pentecost. Advice from The Creative Penn is invaluable for any author interested in marketing, so I was obviously keen to take in her trailer wisdom. I tried to use some footage collected in the woods for the Code Runner teaser trailer but I wasn’t particularly happy with how it turned out.

The third trailer I loved was for Chuck Wendig’s Blackbirds and Mockingbird. I love this trailer. It’s a great introduction to the character and premise of the series, and Wendig’s writing style. However, I took note of his comments in that post and the feedback – it runs a little long and, again, it was professional produced with $$$. But I loved the simple combination of words and voiceover, and I thought it could form a good basis for a Code Runner book trailer.

Test – one, two, three: the voiceover
Those who have met me IRL may notice its my voice on the trailer. However, it took my own husband thirty seconds to recognise me!

Honestly, I don’t know what happened. I sat down, pressed record on my iPhone and read the excerpt from Chapter 9: Lost Boy. My breathing was a little obvious in places and I tried to re-record the worst bits, but I’m afraid I couldn’t find that tone again – the creepy voice had departed forever. Instead, I cleaned it up in Audacity and imported it into good, old Windows Movie Maker.

A picture’s worth a thousand words: the images
I wanted the words to convey the atmosphere of the novel, not just “say what you see”, Catchphrase-style. But I also didn’t want each image to be too “busy” – I figured we were working with old Powerpoint wisdom here, so I limited my fonts.

I chose a typewriter-style for the main text, with other simple images and font changes for emphasis. For the change in the middle of the text, I used a more handwriting-based font to encourage the flow of reading – again, an atmosphere choice.

trailer-example-text

I planned each “full image” with multiple layers using Paint.net and then saved out each individual image. I then adjusted the timing to follow the narration. The whole thing probably took me a whole day of work, over three sessions or so. And I’ll admit that I’m pretty pleased with how it turned out.

So, what do you think? Let me know your thoughts on my trailer and books trailers in general in the comments!

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