Posts Tagged 'Making Picture Books'

How to Make a Book Trailer

My second book is due out in a few short months, so this topic has consumed most of my creative time lately. Book trailers are much like movie trailers … only about books (duh). They’re short video clips used to advertise books, but for me they’re much more. The illustrator in me loves them as another form of visual storytelling, as well as an excuse to dabble in animation. They’re also a great way to reach an international audience. Being based in Australia, here I can tour schools and festivals, meeting kids and teachers and doing book readings. But when it comes to my US audience, instead I can interact using my book trailer and by doing blog tours and online interviews.

So let’s say you’ve written a book and want to make your own trailer. Here’s the good news: the hard bit is already done. Because the first thing you need is a great story. Once you have that, you have the bones of your trailer. Now the bad news: I can’t tell you exactly how to make a trailer. There are just too many different ways to go about it. But I can tell you what a good trailer needs … and how I made mine … and what I’ve learnt along the way (please feel free to learn from my mistakes).

Where to start…

  • Watch lots of trailers: I mean heaps. Good ones. Bad ones. Figure out the difference. Find a few you love and study them
  • Make a list: write down all the things you want your trailer to include. My list was: book cover, key scenes, review quotes, publisher information, trailer credits, my website
  • Write the script: write out all the words that will appear in your trailer, whether spoken or written. Then edit it. And again. Get the order and emphasis right. Spend as much time on it as you would crafting a passage of your book. Mine looks like this:

  • Choose your visuals: for an illustrator this bit is easier. I chose a few key scenes from my picture book to use. If you’re not the illustrator, you need to seek their permission to use their work. If your book is a novel, there are royalty free image sites you can google to find quality images – spend time finding ones that reflect the mood and style of your story
  • Choose your music: I’m lucky enough to work with an amazingly talented composer and multi-instrumentalist, but they don’t just grow on trees. Mostly people use royalty free music you can download from various sites. I used such sites to find a few subtle sound effects, and made some of my own (in my extremely low budget recording studio / bedroom cupboard)
  • Create a storyboard: this is an illustrating term, which means designing the visuals of the story. Draw out exactly what you want your trailer to look like, a few frames at a time. This is where you can start to think about text and image placement, as well as consider background, transitions, colour, sound effects and music. Mine looks like this:

  • Make it: Yeah, not as easy as it sounds. This point could have an entire blog devoted to it. But choose a video editing program you have, or one you can afford, then read / watch every online tutorial you can find. This is exactly how I learnt to use Flash, which is what I used to create my first trailer. This time around I was going to use stop motion animation, but it was consuming too much time so I’ve shelved that idea for another year. My first trailer involved a lot of trial and error as I was figuring Flash out, and it took me forever to grasp what I was doing. But this second trailer has been much easier (and much more fun). I’m now confident enough to play with some more complicated sequences

Things I learnt along the way…

  • Keep it short. No longer that 1min 30sec. Modern viewers have short attention spans (most of you probably haven’t made it this far in my post)
  • While my book is written in past tense, the trailer worked much better in present tense – it gave a greater sense of unfolding action
  • However long you think it will take to make the trailer – double it
  • Get the trailer ready to release at least a month before the book comes out. Book review copies are sent out long before the release date, so books often start gathering reviews early. It’s great if you can have the trailer circulating at the same time

Some of my favourite trailers…

I’ll be launching the Brave Squish Rabbit trailer here in September…

Writerly Party

Who said writers are a shy, unsocial bunch? I can’t speak for all writerly types, but at the very least Queensland writers aren’t. Last Thursday the Queensland Writers Centre threw its annual Christmas party, the first one held at their new premises at the State Library, South Bank.

This night was especially exciting for me as it was also the launch of the 2011 program of workshops and masterclasses. For the first time I’ll be a part of it, presenting a workshop called Making Picture Books in August next year. For more info (and to see my grinning mug) check it out on the QWC’s webpage. Here’s a snippet from their site about what the workshop will cover:

Focusing on the principles of writing for children and the craft of creating picture books, as well as covering how to build your resume and submit work to publishers, Katherine Battersby will illustrate each concept using picture book examples drawing from both classic and modern Australian titles. Perfect for anyone with a children’s story in the making!

It was a great night, with much chit chat, wine, finger food and posing in lovely frocks (mainly the women). Unfortunately there was no dancing, as some rumour mongers would have you think (you know who you are – Kathleen I’m looking at you). See the photos below for evidence of the fun had:

Me, Simon Groth (author and new addition to QWC staff) & Jodi DeVantier (WQ Editor)

Me, David 'Ghostboy' Stavanger (poet and general trouble maker), Kathleen Noud (YA writer / rumour monger) & Peter Allert (illustrator)

Short and Scary

Up for a bit of creepiness? I hope so, because Black Dog Books is just about to release their latest anthology, Short and Scary. It’s a book that promises to be full of ‘a whole lot of creepy stories and other chilling stuff’, and it’s not wrong. Ghosties and ghoulies and monsters and all sorts of freakiness crawls over each and every page.

How do I know? Because one of my stories is featured between the pages. Just today I received my advance copy, and enjoyed seeing Haunted alongside stories written by so many authors and illustrators I admire, such as Shaun Tan, Sally Rippin, James Moloney, Gabrielle Wang, Carole Wilkinson, Andy Griffiths, Terry Denton, James Roy and the list goes on. It’s also thrilling to share the pages with many good friends of mine (girls, you know who you are). I encourage you to go grab yourself a copy, not just because it’s a great read, but also because all proceeds will be donated to a really worthwhile charity called Big Brothers Big Sisters, who provide a much needed youth mentoring program.

As an aside, I haven’t blogged much lately because I’ve been quite busy – not with my usual writing, but writing articles and preparing talks…

  • I was recently the featured author in Writing Queensland, the QLD Writers Centre magazine, which involved an interview
  • I was approached by the ACT Writers Centre and asked to contribute an article on picture books to one of their upcoming magazines
  • July 14th-16th I’ll be speaking at Whitsunday Voices, giving talks and illustration workshops to grades 2-4 and 9-12
  • July 17th I’ll be doing a talk on Making Picture Books for the Gold Coast Writers’ Association (non-members are welcome to attend too)

There’s nothing I enjoy more than speaking about writing and illustrating, and I’m really looking forward to doing some more speaking events. So I’ve been busy, but happy. Although I will enjoy getting back to my new novel…


About this Blog…

A blog of ramblings about the world of writing and illustrating for children, by an author / illustrator who might just have a thing for rabbits.

Katherine's picture books, 'Squish Rabbit' and 'Brave Squish Rabbit', are out with Viking (Penguin, US) and UQP (Australia). Please e-mail if you would like her to blog about something in particular.

All text & images  Katherine Battersby

Released Sept 2012:

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