Is a book trailer really necessary? Ali Bacon feels the fear and does it anyway

Do I need a book trailer? Reading posts from other authors, the jury is most definitely out on whether or not a video trailer for my historical novel will represent ROI (that's Return on Investment by the way).  

But sometimes things just happen. Like being in the golf club on a day when everyone else is out on the course, leaving both me and the barman at a bit of a loose end.  He lets slip (?) that in another life he is a video producer. And I feel obliged (as you do) to tell him about my other occupation and how there's a school of thought that says in this age of short attention spans and social media/multi-media, authors need video book trailers.
With which said barman not surprisingly agrees. 

So three days later I'm in the local cafe drinking very strong coffee quite early in the day with Gavin Allen soi-meme. He has never done a book trailer, I have never worked with video. 
To help us on our way, he has  a one-page 'scrawl' of my ideas. I have some tips culled from author friends:
  • the shorter the better
  • don't  tell the story, do convey the feeling/atmosphere/style
  • a visual thing, maybe, but sound is more important
So far Gavin agrees and before long I am watching him rough out how a 30 second video is put together - and explaining how this would translate into film (not to mention attendant matters of time and money!)

Example of a shot list. Ours is still in the blocks!

Gavin then takes a step back (but also forward) by asking more about me and my other writing as well as this particular book, something most of you will know I never have any trouble talking about! Before long we're both fired up and firing off ideas. From there we progress to the practicalities:  contacts, equipment, locations. 
After an hour we have a plan. It may or may not work, but it's a start.

So do I need a book trailer?
The 'ROI' probably won't be measurable in terms of sales, though Gavin claims through the magic of various analytical tools the visibility of the trailer (and hence the book) can be measured. Even so, I imagine that at this point in the book's publishing history, it's a fifty/fifty call on whether or not to go ahead

Location, location, location
But do you know what really fascinates me? It's the process - entirely new to me - of translating the book into a different medium:  the technical knowledge required and perhaps most of all the leap of creative imagination from using words to harnessing sound and vision to represent the idea. 

The nearest I have come to this is the cover design which took quite a while and a lot of working and reworking. But a book is physical and tactile. However sophisticated the design, it has at its disposal words and pictures:  things which are static. This will be a thing of moving parts. The planning and production processes are different. How different?  

To be honest, whatever the outcome, I think it might be fun. 

So here I am, on yet another writing journey. I could say watch this space but I'm not sure how long you will be there watching. In the meantime here's an excellent book trailer Gavin and I have taken as a touch-stone. It's for an an excellent book. Also from my publishers Linen Press. Also in The People's Book Prize. 

Ali Bacon's book In the Blink of an Eye (Linen Press 2018) has been long-listed for the People's Book Prize. You can read an extract on her website. The  Red Beach Hut by Lynn Michell is also listed for the prize.  


Griselda Heppel said…
I haven't yet come to grips with the book trailer idea but I can see how a good one could excite interest. I couldn't get the sound to work on your example here (technical fault undoubtedly mine). The film looked atmospheric nevertheless.... though somewhat let down by what looks like a massive typo early on, when the writing across the picture of the boy says 'I SHAREN'T TELL'. He must mean SHAN'T, surely?

Good luck with your trailer - I look forward to seeing it!

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