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advice author Book Trailers creativity crowd-funding film-making indie authors the Methuselah Paradox writing

How I created a book trailer


above: artwork for ‘The Methuselah Paradox’ trailer by Catherine Archer-Wills

by EJ Jackson

The Beginning

First of all, I should make it clear that I’m not claiming that this is the only way to create a book trailer, or that you as an indie author should follow my method. Mainly because, when I began the process, I didn’t really know what I was doing!  I only knew that (a) I wanted a book trailer and (b) I couldn’t afford to hire someone to make it for me.  So, just as I did in 1980 (I wanted to join a fan club for ‘The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’ – I couldn’t find one, so I set one up myself) I decided to do it myself.

Grand Designs

My original script for the trailer resembled something you might see on prime-time TV – a cast of twelve, jump cuts from scene to scene, and a specially written score. I very quickly realized that I couldn’t afford live action, so I opted for voice-overs with accompanying artwork.

Format –  captions, narration, live action or animation?

I looked at hundreds of book trailers online prior to creating my own, and as already noted, I realized that live action would probably prove too expensive. I couldn’t afford animation either. A combination of narration, captions and stills seemed to be my best bet.

Casting

I found my first two cast members on Twitter, and the remainder by posting job specs on Casting Call Pro , Voices Pro and Casting Now.  A word of appreciation here for casting directors the world over – finding the right actor/voice artist was an education in itself!  I learned to trust my gut feeling – and the opinion of a fellow writer and friend who shares my vision for the trailer, and had been instrumental in helping me to develop the story.  Eventually I had my cast – and realized that I would need to crowdfund if I was going to be able to create the trailer I wanted!  I had already begun announcing each cast member as they were signed, now I began looking into crowdfunding options.

Crowdfunding – the choices

In hindsight, I rushed into this – and signed up with Patreon, which is primarily a monthly patronage set-up, rather than a one-time campaign. Still, I had two lovely people sign up for the top package, which went a long way, and helped reassure me that other people were interested in what I was trying to do.

The sites I looked at were:

Kickstarter – probably the best-known of all crowdfunding sites, Kickstarter requires you to have a pitch video, and if you don’t reach your target, you don’t collect any of the pledges. I decided not to use Kickstarter at the time, because I didn’t feel ready or able to create a credible video pitch.

Patreon – best for ongoing pledges. Patreon worked well for me up to a point, but I believe the site’s stated ‘monthly commitment’ status put a lot of people off who may have preferred to make a one-time payment.

GoFundMe – campaign specific, and can be ongoing. You receive funds as they are pledged. This worked very well for me too – it doesn’t require a video pitch, and is easy to update and for people to donate.

IndieGoGo – project led, and has a ‘flexible funding’ option which allows you to continue collecting once the campaign has ended. You can add videos (it’s advised but not compulsory) as well as images.  IndieGoGo was a total failure for me – quite possibly because I already had Patreon and GoFundMe up and running. A promotional add-on from the Crowdfunding Center failed to make a difference. As it happened, I reached my target with the other campaigns and some off-line donations, so it didn’t impact too badly, and was a useful lesson.

How Many Campaigns should I have?

At first I made the assumption that you should have just one campaign – any more than one, and people might think I was running a scam! But in fact some creators do run more than one – it helps to spread the word, perhaps to reach different audiences, and some platforms are better suited to smaller goals. So, for instance, had I crowdfunded the music, I could have had one campaign for that on GoFundMe, and have another on a different site to crowdfund the artists or actors’ fees. Or you can put everything in one campaign with different goal stages. At the end of the day, it pays to research each site, check out the other campaigns running on each one, and go with what feels right for you. Kickstarter has an excellent ‘How to…’ manual, free to read/download on their website. The general advice works for any platform.

Crowdfunding – what would I do differently next time?

I would not rush into creating a campaign, as I did with my first. I would take longer over the research and planning stage, and wait until I had as much creative content as possible before launching. If you don’t have any funds without crowdfunding, with which to create any content, then describe what you are hoping to achieve as well as you can – if you know someone who can provide a few pencil sketches, that would be better than nothing. Follow the guidelines to creating an effective pitch and find a friend or family member with a camcorder to record multiple takes. You can edit them in Windows Movie Maker (and if you have Windows 10 and can’t find WMM on your PC, there are ‘know how’ posts all over the web about how to find and download it!) and add music.

Music – isn’t that expensive?

It can be. But if you have an iPad and someone in the family who is at all musical, invest in the GarageBand App – as long as the tune you or your friend create is original, you can use it!  Failing that, there is the brilliant Free Music Archive – but do take care to read the licenses for any track you set your heart on, and contact the creator if you are in any doubt about whether or not you can use it.  I was fortunate enough to have a friend whose son is very gifted, and he wrote and recorded a beautiful track for me at a very reasonable price. I’d use him again, and hopefully will!

 Promotion – where should I share my book trailer?

Set yourself up with a YouTube channel (it’s free). From there, you can embed the video on your website/webpage. If you have an author/book Facebook page, you can display it there – remember to use the relevant tags – mine were sci-fi, book, my name, and so on. If you have a Twitter account (and I believe that every indie author should – Twitter has been beyond helpful to me in terms of making contacts) you can use Google URL shortener to post a link, because YouTube URLs are horrendously long. Don’t forget the #tags – #book, #sci-fi (or #romance, etc.)  About.me, tumblr, Instagram, Google+, Booklaunch.com … if you have a profile on Goodreads, you can add it there, and on Authordb, IMDb…  and if you have an author-specific email address, or website email, you can add a link to it in your signature line… the possibilities are endless.

Team Trailer

As I’ve gone through the process of producing my first ‘proper’ book trailer (I perhaps should but don’t really count my first effort, which was a WMM scrolling caption assemblage of excerpts from my short story collection set to music from the FMA on a black screen – it seems like a very poor relation to my second effort!) I’ve been very fortunate to meet some wonderful people along the way.  It is very difficult to produce something like this on your own – so if you meet people who are as enthusiastic about your creation as you are, and you allow them to have input, it will (usually!) make the finished product better. My advice is to keep your vision in mind at all times, but don’t be afraid to experiment to find out what works best.

Will a book trailer help to sell my book?

This is a difficult one – some people believe not; others are convinced of the opposite. It’s hard to quantify, but it seems logical to assume that something which is eye-catching, doesn’t look amateur, has a memorable score and content, and isn’t too long, should attract people to your page – and hopefully to your buying link. But the truth is, we don’t know for sure. For me, I have to be honest and say that the experience of making the trailer alone made it worth doing – if it helps to sell the book, then that will be a bonus!  If the idea of penning, hiring, and creating a book trailer fills you with horror, then it may not be for you; but for anyone whose creative enthusiasm crosses media types, I’d say ‘go for it’. Good luck, and please do share your story with us!

methusalah paradox portraits 2A final

Has this article been useful? Have I missed anything out? If you have questions, comments, or want to share your own ‘trailer story’, or add to anything I’ve said above, please use the comment box below.  Thank you for reading!

Elaine Jackson, April 2016

 

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old age science fiction the Methuselah Paradox Uncategorized

How long should we live?


With our National Health Service beginning to creak under the weight of increasing numbers of senior members of society as people live longer, Pearl S Buck’s words have never been truer:

Our society must make it right and possible for old people not to fear the young or be deserted by them, for the test of a civilization is the way that it cares for its helpless members.

I recently received a letter from my Godmother, who at 102 years old, apologised for not penning a longer letter!  I felt humbled. My husband said, “I’ve never held a letter written by someone who has had a telegram from the Queen.” I could tell that he was impressed, too. Old age need not be a time of helplessness or infirmity … it shouldn’t be.

My parents, who passed on aged 73 and 77 respectively, could probably never have imaged living for a century.  That infamous time-traveler, Doctor Who, has lived (fictionally, of course) for billions of years – he went ‘the long way round’ on more than one occasion!  Yet he has (so far) lost none of his zest for life, as evidenced by his date with River Song in the recent Christmas Special.  For ‘Torchwood’s Captain Jack Harkness, longevity is a somewhat harder cross to bear… they are two characters at opposite ends of the spectrum, giving us some great story-telling along the way.

Old age (or finite life) is a theme beloved of science-fiction writers and film-makers since…. well, since the first piece of speculative fiction appeared (author Brain Aldiss cites Mary Shelley’s ‘Frankenstein’ as the first example of science-fiction, and I can’t argue with that). In the society of William F Nolan’s classic novel, ‘Logan’s Run’,  ‘old age’ is deemed to be twenty-one. Neolithic men and women were lucky to reach forty.

C.S. Lewis had this to say:

How incessant and great are the ills with which a prolonged old age is replete.

While Aldous Huxley took a different view:

The secret of genius is to carry the spirit of the child into old age, which means never losing your enthusiasm.

Personally, I’m with Aldous.  Well, as someone starting my writing career in my fifties , I need all the positivity I can get!

With scientists declaring in the spring of last year that quite soon, we might all be able to live ‘five hundred years or more’, it seems eerily appropriate that my first novel asks the question:  “How long do you want to live?”

‘The Methuselah Paradox’ makes no judgments, however.  It’s a story, primarily about people who have been caught up in the consequences of a discovery…  and there are many ways the story could have gone, many different scenarios that could have played out (and I probably tried them all, before settling on one).  I think it may be a theme I will return to… because really, the answer could be as simple as “as long as I have good health, so that I can live, and not just exist.” … and that’s probably the answer I would give, if I were to be asked the question.  But of course, it’s never quite as simple as that…

So… how about you? How long do you want to live? How do you think living ‘five hundred score or more’ will affect us, and our society – and of course, planet Earth?  I can’t promise to answer all those questions in ‘The Methuselah Paradox’, but I hope it will give you food for thought.

Never one to miss an opportunity, before I go, I’m going to slip in a little plug for my crowdfunding campaign… if you’d like to help me create a trailer for ‘The Methuselah Paradox’, why not pop over to www.ejjackson.org to see what cool, limited editions perks you can pick up in return for a little donation…

Thank you for reading!

EJ Jackson

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crowd-funding film-making indie authors promotional science fiction writing

Getting There…Slowly!


Almost a year ago, in February 2015, I began work on the promotional trailer for my science-fiction novel, ‘The Methuselah Paradox’.  February and March were spent writing the audition script and looking for voice artists to bring my characters to life.  Once the final cast member had been signed up, then it became about looking for artists and illustrators to add the visuals… a composer was commissioned to create original music… and then came the next challenge – crowdfunding. Working out how much everything else would cost, deciding which crowdfund site to go with, writing the pitch… and trying to get up the courage to go on camera and tell the world all about my novel and the trailer in person… and putting the final touches to the manuscript itself.

And as every writer knows, the more time you have to tinker with something, the more you will tinker, and tweak, and start to doubt yourself… have I really got a good story here? Will people want to read it, will they buy the book, will they believe in the project enough to want to donate money to help me make the trailer?

Well, I have asked myself those questions and many more, and have been deeply moved each time someone takes a leap of faith in me and makes a donation. To everyone who has donated so far (including those who gave so generously but didn’t want to be publicly acknowledged – which is why I now need slightly less than the totals given on the site!) I want to say a HUGE ‘Thank You’.  I can’t wait to start sending out the scripts to my cast and seeing it all come together!

There will be more news soon. In the meantime, I’ll leave you with a message from actor Richard Oliver, who is the voice of Tom Morgan in the trailer:  A message from Richard OliverTHE METHUSELAH PARADOX COMPLETE CAST_1 (1024x576)

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crowd-funding ebook film-making indie authors promotional publication day science fiction the Methuselah Paradox writing

“Imagination is the highest kite one can fly” – would you like to help me imagine a book trailer?


TMP_Cover1awithstrapline11.4.15

Cover art by Rachel Lawston:  www.lawstondesign.com  

TMGSimonBuggisDIHammond1Richard Oliver is James MoranAmelia Sefton is Emma Morgan

 

“Imagination is the highest kite one can fly.”  Or so said Lauren Bacall. I think she was right – free of earthly restraints, our imagination can take us beyond the edge of the universe. To infinity, and beyond, to quote Mr Lightyear! We can imagine events that have not yet happened, and by so doing, inspire ourselves and others to “make it so”. We can imagine a whole novel, or a film, or a play, or a series of dramas for television… or we can, if we are an Indie Author just starting out, imagine a book trailer…. you knew where this was going, didn’t you?

Unfortunately, imagination alone cannot pay people for their time and expertise…  So I’m going to imagine that you, just as I did with ‘The Minister of Chance‘, ‘Kaleidoscope Man‘ and ‘Kosmos‘, might just be interested enough in seeing the fruits of my imagination (and a lot of other people’s time and expertise!) to help us make the trailer!  You can do this via my crowdfunding link on www.ejjackson.org  and at the same time, earn yourself some unique rewards!

How Can I Help?

Firstly, by telling anyone you know who might be interested!  Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, PinIt, anywhere and anywhere – please spread the word!  Secondly, by pledging a very small amount to help me pay all those wonderful people who are going to make the trailer a reality – actors, voice artists, illustrators.

What Will I Receive in Return For My Help?

That’s a very good question, and one I’m very happy to answer!

The unique, limited edition rewards you can choose from are:  Your name on the credits as a supporter; an MP3 copy of the theme music; a signed copy of the trailer script; a DVD copy of the trailer; a signed copy of ‘The Methuselah Paradox’ when it is published (date TBC but provisionally spring 2016); a signed promotional poster, and a t-shirt. I may add a few extra goodies along the way, like key rings, badges, mouse-mats, photo-mugs… anything that says ‘thank you’ and helps to spread the word!

And although ‘The Methuselah Paradox’ is not a charity project, I will also be donating a percentage of the profits from book sales towards Progeria research.  Go here for more information about Progeria, and here for how it relates to ‘The Methuselah Paradox’.

Thank you for reading this – I do hope that you will join us!

x EJ Jackson

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It’s Live…. How you can help me to make a video trailer for ‘The Methuselah Paradox’ !


What you see above is a tiny preview of the theme and credits for a trailer promoting ‘The Methuselah Paradox’…   with today’s launch of the crowdfunding project , the reality is beginning to feel a little closer!  I’ve blogged before about crowdfunding, and also here, but it’s not until you support someone else’s creative endeavor that you realise just what can be achieved.  ‘The Minster of Chance‘ audio series (and soon to be a film!) from Radio Static, ‘Kosmos‘ and ‘Third Contact‘ from Simon Horrocks, and ‘Kaleidoscope Man‘ from Simon Cox are just some of the projects I’ve been involved with, and knowing that I’ve helped, even in a small way, someone produce something into which they’ve poured time, effort and dreams, gives me a great deal of satisfaction.  When I decided that I wanted to make a trailer for my book, and quickly realised that it would require a bigger budget than I could fund by myself… well, nothing ventured, nothing gained, as they say!  I decided to try and crowdfund it.

Basically how it works is this: I tell potential patrons how much I need and what for, and offer a series of ‘rewards’ (signed books, t-shirts, scripts, etc.) for anyone who pledges. Patrons pledge, I make the trailer and produce the rewards, and hopefully everyone is happy!

I hope you will check out the project here on Patreon – and if you can’t afford to pledge, please don’t worry – spreading the word is every bit as important as making a pledge, so please tell all your friends about it!  If you know someone who enjoys crime mysteries and/or science fiction, perhaps they might enjoy ‘The Methuselah Paradox’….

Now I had better go and edit that script some more….

Thank you for reading!

Elaine x

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author creativity crowd-funding film-making

What’s In A Name? Novel and Trailer Update


‘The Methuselah Gene’ is now ‘The Methuselah Paradox’

This book has had more titles than I’ve had hot dinners!  Well, not really… but it started life as a short story titled ‘The Journey’, before becoming a full-blown novel called ‘All Our Yesterdays’; then it became ‘All Our Tomorrows’.  Following a massive rewrite during which the secondary plotline took over,  it became ‘The Methuselah Gene’ – however, I hadn’t done my homework properly, and it turns out there were already two books out there with that title! Cue much gnashing of teeth and pulling out of hair… finally we have ‘The Methuselah Paradox’, which I have come to love and which I realise does better represent the story… hurrah!  I’m now at the editing stage (harder than the original writing in many ways!) and still working on the trailer…. talking of which:

Kickstarter

Putting a book trailer together is a fascinating process, and one that I am thoroughly enjoying! However, it has also been a very steep learning curve; an important part of which has been the realisation that quality does of course carry a price tag (in this as in all other things)…  my initial estimate of what it would cost to make my own three-minute trailer was woefully inadequate!  Having got as far as an initial script idea and having found a cast and composer, I quickly realised that if the end result was going to do the artists and  the material justice, I would need some proper funding.

So now I’m working on a Kickstarter treatment,  which will very soon go live.  Please do watch this space! And if you know of anyone who might be interested in learning more about it, please spread the word!

Thank you,

Elaine Jackson

HOW LONG DO YOU WANT TO LIVE_1