History Hoydens

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Historical Romance Writers Dishing the Dirt on Research

06 September 2007

Historical Novel Video Trailers

Video teasers for romance novels are everywhere. A year ago, I decided I would make one---correction, I decided I would write the script, pick the music and the photos, and then turn the project over to someone else. So I contacted my website guy, Justin Knupp(http://www.stonecreekmedia.com/) and asked what we could do on a very limited budget. Turns out, even a year ago video trailers weren’t cheap, ranging anywhere from ~$350 for slide show types like mine, to $600 or $700 and up for trailers that use flash animation. Live action actors can run the cost into the thousands. Check out Circle of Seven (COS) (http://www.cosproductions.com/) a production company that makes a lot of romance novel video teasers, many with live action. They offer a great but expensive distribution service.

But I was not deterred. I thought it would be a simple, fun, creative but quick process. I was right--- to a point.

What I did not anticipate was the difficulty in creating a trailer for a historical romance, particularly a medieval historical. Now there are thousands of copyright-free stock images you can purchase from various suppliers (like iStock Photo ,http://www.istockphoto.com/index.php) but finding a knight dressed in true-looking 13th costuming or chain mail is not so easy. Search the keyword “knights” on iStock and you will turn up a lot of images of chess pieces---and some decent photos, but it takes a ton of time to sort through them to find the usable jewels.

Real 13th century castles aren’t easy to come up with either (partly because so many are now rubble) and heroines in the right medieval costumes are even harder. Throw in period-looking destriers and you are looking at hours and hours of searching. My quest wasn’t fruitless, just more of a challenge than I thought it would be.

My impression is it’s a little easier to do a novel teaser of the slide show type for a Victorian or Regency romance, but not by much. Video novel teasers seem to lend themselves to almost every other category of romance---romantic suspense, contemporaries, paranormals, erotica, and inspirational better than medieval.

As for the music, that was not a huge problem, but again the copyright-free, purchase-for-single-use selection is rather limited if you want affordable. ShockWave (http://www.shockwave-sound.com/) sound is a main supplier and if you are picky (like me) the pickins are slim. Getting contemporary/pop music is out of the reach of most of us. Rights for popular music sells for hundreds of thousands of dollars, even more.

But the real question here is do video teasers help authors sell books? I’ve heard presenters at writers workshops answer that question with the question “Do you think movie trailers work?”

Well…yes and no…

SMART BITCHS http://www.smartbitchestrashybooks.com/index.php/P8/recently (August 27th) blogged on this topic, as did PUBLISHERS WEEKLY(http://www.publishersweekly.com/blog/880000288/post/1720013772.html . Based on the comments (mostly from readers), I will make the sweeping generalization that most people stated novel video teasers generally do not entice them to buy a book, but my impression is authors really like to make them and watch them. A few booksellers posted they liked them in the stores. Many people commented that a bad, or cheesy trailer, or one that moves too slowly would actually deter them from buying the book.

If you want to view my first attempt at a novel teaser, check out my trailer for DARK RIDER. As a new author, here is what I’ve learned: make short teasers (the 30 second kind, not 60 sec) and make the text flow as you read. If you have to pause and wait, it’s too long. Try to capture the general feel and theme, not a synopsis, of the story. In my trailer, I think I succeeded in some aspects, and admit there is room for improvement on others. I like the sound (warning, horses whinny) and I like most of the images.

Now back to the question “Do you think novel trailers work?” For DARK RIDER, it’s too soon to tell. But of my website pages the “view trailer” page is at the bottom of the “most often visited” list. Visitors tend go right to the “books” page and the “read an excerpt” page. This seems to echo what the commentors on other blogs posted---they look at the author’s books page and read the excerpts.

Anyone else have an opinion on historical video teasers? Care to post the URLS of your favorites (of any kind)? I know some Hoydens have them. Do you think they attract new young readers who have grown up with “visual media”?

16 Comments:

Blogger Amanda Elyot said...

This is a fascinating topic, Kathrynn, and one that I am particularly interested in, since my editor is always asking me to step up my promotional efforts and of course I am on an extremely limited budget. Thanks so much for all the information!

8:59 AM  
Blogger Elizabeth Kerri Mahon said...

I'm not sure how I feel about video trailers. I think that for a first time author, the money would be better spent on having a kick-ass web-site, and giving workshops at conferences where you can do book signings. But then again, as an actress and a writer, i'm kind of intrigued by them.

9:06 AM  
Blogger Gabriele C. said...

I like them if they're good (some are too slow indeed), and I have bought a book because of the trailer once.

I think I'll get me one if they're still the fashion when I've finished one of my NiP and found a home for it. :) Knowing some people who do Roman reenactment will surely help me to get good pics, and since I'm a photographer, I won't rely on the net to find what I need. I might even try and create a trailer myself since I've already decided to manage my web presence without paying someone and keep learning new stuff. It's fun, in a way.

9:45 AM  
Blogger Kalen Hughes said...

Hey everyone!!! I'm back from all my travels and ready to play again. Great effort on the video trailer, Katherynn. I haven't attempted anything like this yet, but maybe someday . . .

10:16 AM  
Blogger Kathrynn Dennis said...

Glad you found it helpful, Amanda. I'm not sure yet if I would invest in another one.

I am intrigued by them, too, Elizabeth. It's weird!

Sounds like you are set up to go, Gabriele. Give it a go and post for us when you get it done. I like watching them.

11:07 AM  
Blogger Kathrynn Dennis said...

Welcome back, Kalen! We've missed you here. ;-)

11:08 AM  
Blogger Kathrynn Dennis said...

BTW, I wanted to ad I hired our high-school age baby sitter to post my video teaser on UTube, MSN, Google etc....places she knew about that I had never heard of (not being hip or 16).

This stuff is such a time sink, it was worth it to me to have her do it.

11:12 AM  
Blogger Gabriele C. said...

YouTube is an evil procrastination place. :)

Here's the link to a trailer by Elizabeth Chadwick. She's a member of a Middle Age reenactment group and obviously has put her fellows to good use. :)

11:19 AM  
Blogger Kathrynn Dennis said...

Very cool how Elizabeth Chadwick put that all together! Now she has real period images..nice. Thanks for the pointer, Gabriele.

Kathrynn

12:51 PM  
Anonymous Judy T said...

After reading the interview, I ordered my copy. The video was well done, and I watched it twice in succession :-) but it wasn't the deciding factor.

7:39 PM  
Blogger Donna MacMeans said...

Hi Kathrynn -

Hey, I know Justin, as well as his talented wife, Amy. I'll have to keep them in mind if I take the plunge and go with a trailer.

Like you, I've noticed a dearth of historical trailers. I did buy Alyssa Day's "Atlantis Rising" after viewing her trailer. I think we'll be seeing more book trailers in this youtube/visual society. Hopefully technology will develop to make them more affordable.

8:14 PM  
Blogger Kathrynn Dennis said...

Thank you, Judy. Glad you liked the trailer, hope you like the book!

Best,
Kathrynn D.

8:37 PM  
Blogger Kathrynn Dennis said...

Hi Donna,

Now I have to see the trailer for Atlantis Rising...I have heard such good things about that book.

Thanks for the tip and for stopping by!

KD

8:38 PM  
Blogger Camilla Bartley said...

I don't see any use for them unless they start airing on TV or in bookstores--which I don't see happening unless publishers enter into the fray and even then, they might just fall back into the tried-and-true method of pouring their advertising dollars into mega-famous authors (go figure!).

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