Lights, Camera, Action…The Making of a Book Trailer

When my novel was heading for a second printing, I was excited and nervous. Excited to know that sales had been good enough to warrant another run 3 months after the book’s debut, yet nervous: what if the first run was the limit of sales? movies

Just before Living Underground was published, my editor George Down of The Book Band said, “Your book has legs. It’s the kind that will be a steady seller and it will build.” While I relished hearing his words, like most writers I am filled with self-doubt and second guessing.

As part of my ‘second wave’ marketing plan, I thought a book trailer could generate some fresh interest in Living Underground. My novel is not easy to explain in an elevator pitch but a book trailer of 90 seconds or so – that could gather up the many threads and themes. I reasoned it just might do what my tongue-tied self could barely manage. My publisher Maureen Whyte of Seraphim Editions and I worked out a budget. And I knew exactly who I would ask to produce the video.

Studio shoot of La Traviata album cover
Studio shoot of La Traviata album cover

I admired the work of Carla Sinclair and Colin Burwell of Empty Cup Media from my artist-in-residence work with the Durham District School Board. They are risk-taking filmmakers with an eye for “the moment” and they live to capture emotion in film. A couple of meetings to chat about the central themes and plot, research and gathering of archival footage and staged filming, an outline or two and music selection – and they went to work. Llewellyn Jones provided the voice over. Several record albums from the 1960s, a 45-year old pipe and tobacco pouch and some special effects were part of the live filming.

Two proofs later, we had the finished product. I posted the book trailer for Living Underground and less than 2 days later, it garnered the highest viral level at facebook.com/LivingUndergroundbyRuthWalker.  The reactions have been amazing. A colleague told me that she kept meaning to get the book but, after she watched the trailer, she went to that night to Book City to buy it because “Now I had to read it.”

Thanks Carla and Colin for finding the emotion in my words and conveying the sense of mystery and secrets. It was a grand adventure, I learned so much and – along the way – gained a greater understanding of the art and science of film.