BOOK-COVER-HIGH-RES-LarasGift copyBook trailers are visual vehicles for reaching readers in the same way film studios create movie trailers to entice audiences. I didn’t know much about book trailers when I first contemplated creating one for Lara’s Gift, and I still don’t know everything, but I took the plunge and certainly have a few big picture tips that I can share about the process.

To view the book trailer of Lara’s GiftCLICK HERE.

time-warpTIME. The BIG thing you should understand and realize is the amount of time you’ll invest in making a book trailer. Even with a well-written script planned out, you’ll discover that this is only the tip of the iceberg! For a little over a minute of run time, the book trailer for Lara’s Gift took months of my attention from start to finish. Time I could have (and should have!) devoted to writing.

Galina Patrina  68426_540486682636432_579782283_nIMAGES. Video or stills? One of the first decisions you’ll need to make pertains to media. Because I thought it would be easier, I chose to go with photos and STILL spent endless hours that spanned over weeks searching for the right images. Had Lara’s Gift been set in contemporary America, and not during the Russian Imperial era, perhaps my search would have been less challenging. It isn’t every day you’ll run across a photo of a young nobleman with a trio of borzoi trudging through the snow against a Russian landscape!

FACEBOOK. Thanks to Facebook and my gracious Russian borzoi friend, Galina Patrina for sharing an authentic image of “my Russian nobleman and trio of borzoi trudging through the snow” captured by German equine photographer, Gabrielle Boiselle. It’s important to note that if you find an image on the internet that you’d like to use, be sure to obtain permission. Just because it’s out there in cyber space for all to see doesn’t mean it’s copyright-free for all to use.

IMG_4132 - Version 3BE CREATIVE. Sometimes you’ll come upon a brick wall. When I couldn’t find the right image of my protagonist in a particular “shhh” pose on Facebook, google images, or Shutterstock, I pulled out my camera, found a model with thick black hair about the age of my protagonist, threw a red ribbon in her hair, and then put her in the desired pose. Notice how I haven’t revealed the model’s full face. Should Lara’s Gift ever become a movie, a full-fledged facial precedent has not been set. If you’ve ever wondered why so many trailers feature faceless or only mere glimpses of people in them, this is why.

UnknownMUSIC. Unless you’re a musician and can create your own music, expect to spend hours listening to music. I explored all kinds of music from epic to world to classical to folk and countless others. “Lara’s Theme”, composed by Maurice Jarre for the movie, Doctor Zhivago, was my dream background music. Whenever I hear the balalaika in “Lara’s Theme”, it plants me smack dab in the Imperial era of Russia where my novel is set. But, like all famous movie theme songs, the cost to use “Lara’s Theme” was expensively prohibitive. So I decided to find something similar at a more affordable cost. I googled “royalty-free music” and a number of sites popped up. Some of them offer search features by instrument and that’s how I landed on the balalaika in “Broken Hearted”.

mcmahanetal-russia-fig1-mapPLAN. Plan, plan, plan. The more you know what you want, the easier it will be to create a road map for putting it all together. So think things through ahead of time to help narrow your search for images and music.

make-a-budget-piggyBUDGET. If you have the means to create a true video versus putting a string of photos together, go for it. You’re bound to produce a more seamlessly finished product than putting a hodge-podge of photos together like I did. If budget happens to be an issue, there are inexpensive ways to create a decent looking book trailer. I’d recommend finding a recent computer graphic graduate or budding movie director. Neither carries the same kind of overhead of a big firm and most are eager to put their skills to work. You might also consider hiring a savvy high school kid. Or if you have time, you may even consider making it yourself. Most of the programs out there are fairly easy to use. In fact, these days even elementary school aged kids are creating book trailers in lieu of writing book reports.

Movie PopcornBORROW. Take the time to look at as many book trailers as possible and find one to use as a model for your own. Be sure to look at the trailers your publisher has posted on their web page, too. One of my “guiding” book trailers was Malcolm at Midnight by W.H. Beck. for its simplicity and appeal.

FEEDBACK. When you’ve got a final draft of the book trailer completed, ask your editor and/or publicist to share it with the publishing house’s book trailer team for an honest critique before you launch it. The feedback you get may save you from making a huge mistake. Or, if you’ve done your homework, the feedback just might validate your efforts.

174EMOTION. Although I’m very pleased with how my book trailer turned out, there is one thing I would change if I had the funds and time. If I could start from scratch, I’d shorten the trailer and target a 30-45 second run time. I’d also re-shift the focus of how I present my story. Instead of giving viewers a linear description of the plot with a closing question to pull them in, I’d design a trailer that evokes more emotion and/or curiosity from the viewer like in the book trailer for Wild Boy by Mary Losure.

FishHookXSmallFIRST 150 WORDS. The bottom line is: you should approach your book trailer in the same way you tackle the first 150 words of your manuscript with the goal of hooking your reader.

I LikeLINK. Be sure to get your book trailer posted on your web page, your publisher’s web page, and on public and school sites that specifically post book trailers. And of course, continue to spread the word via social media.

Thank you!CREDITS. Be sure to thank everyone who helped you. I’d like to first thank Erin Clarke at Knopf for acquiring Lara’s Gift, a “Lassie-meets-Doctor Zhivago” girl empowerment story. Thanks also go to Tim Jessell for the amazing cover. Music is “Broken Hearted” by TGL Company. Thanks also go to Ceci Brien for stepping in as Lara. And a bolshoe spasibo to Tamara Lyazgina, Galina Patrina, Gabrielle Boiselle, and Diana Medvedeva for letting me use pictures of their beautiful borzoi. I also thank Nicole Banholzer, my publicist for arranging a critique of my book trailer with the Random House book trailer team. Their feedback was right on. Thanks also go to S3Q2 and my writing group, Beyond the Margins for looking at early versions of the book trailer.


Big hugs to my artistic consultants: Aubrey, Anjuli, and Richard Turner.

And the biggest thanks goes to Andrew Ghiringhelli, videographer extraordinaire for his patience, time, and talent in creating the book trailer for Lara’s Gift.

For more information about Lara’s Gift, CLICK HERE.

To read the Kirkus starred review of Lara’s Gift, CLICK HERE.

USEFUL LINKS on Book Trailers.

For more information on how to make a book trailer, please click here, or here, or here, or here, or here, or here, or here.

Happy Book Trailing!