Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Pictures for a Book Trailer—Part One

When a writer gets ready to publish her first indie book, she’s often giddy with excitement at the control she has over the project.  Not only does she get to write the book she wants without conforming to a publisher’s many requirements, she gets to design her own cover, or hire the cover artist of her choice.  Reality sets in when she realizes she’s in for hours of searching photo sites to find the perfect hunk, clinch couple or mountain landscape for her book.

But finding the right background and models for a cover is a piece of cake compared to scoring ten or so photos to make a book trailer.

The trailer for Rx Missing, my new Decorah Security novel that comes out April 28 on amazon.com, is a perfect example:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bb_EadDHzeA

The story starts with my hero, Lieutenant Commander Mack Bradley, taking fire and bailing out of his F18 fighter jet. A very dramatic scene, but where could I get THAT photo?

The good news is that I could search Web sites where all U.S. government photos are free to the public.  The bad news is that the only picture I could find of an F18 that wasn’t too far away to see any details was on the deck of an Aircraft carrier.
                       
Here’s the picture I found:



Actually, it makes a good “danger” scene with all that smoke billowing up.  The problem is that there are also guys standing around the plane.  I eliminated two of them by cropping the photo. Since I don’t use Photoshop, I had to figure out some way to block out the guy right in front of the plane.  I did that with the picture’s caption.



After solving the plane problem, I went on to my h/h.  I needed a hero with short dark hair and a dark-haired heroine.   But I was going to need several different poses for the various scenes I wanted to illustrate, so I looked for people whose faces were obscured. I found a picture I thought would work on Canva (a site where you can compose various Web and print projects and buy inexpensive pictures).  Unfortunately, the shot I wanted had an inappropriate detail.  The heroine is holding a pregnancy test stick!
Could I get rid of that unfortunate detail—again without access to Photoshop?  Mostly, by writing over it with big white letters, and then adding a caption.



And what about the mad scientist I found to illustrate the medical thriller aspect of my plot.  I suspect the scientist I used is a woman—where my bad guy is a man. Go ahead and play the video a few times, and see if you think he’s had a sex-change operation.

I fudged something in almost every photo I used.

But my main goal was to get you interested in the book.  I just wish I had the budget to hire models and shoot the pictures myself. But then I’d still be stuck trying to find the right people.

Next time I’ll talk more about the video techniques I’m learning.

14 comments:

Kathryn Johnson said...

I love this sort of visual magic! Now I have to learn how to do it myself. Yikes!

Rebecca York said...

Thanks. It's fun and challenging.

Nancy Baggett said...


What fun! Clever ideas for making pictures suit your purpose. I assume you bought the pics from stock photo places? Actually, you might consider buying Photoshop Elements. This would make it a lot easier to edit the photos--and with the sorts of edits you are making it wouldn't take you very long to learn the basics you need.

Rebecca York said...

Yes, I should learn Photoshop Elements in my spare time. Sigh. But you may be right. Maybe you can give me some tips, since I KNOW you are great w/ photos.

Rebecca York said...

Forgot to say. Yes, I bought stock photos. The ones from Canva are only $1 each--but they were okay for the video.

Toby Devens said...

Everything you did works beautifully. It takes some luck to come up with adaptable photos and then a healthy measure of creativity and skill to shape them to your needs. I'd love to take a short hands-on course from you or Nancy about how to use the programs you used to such stunning effect. Want to do this for my next novel.

Rebecca York said...

Toby, start by thinking of a script for a video. And think in terms of keeping it short. Like about a minute. You will need a title, which could be the book cover. Then at least 6 or 7 shots you could use to go w/ the pix. Remember, I had to take out and change some of mine bec you all poined out that some didn't work.

Rebecca York said...

Hum, Toby, I meant pictures to go w/ the text!

jbiggarblog said...

This is great info, thanks Ruth. I haven't tried a video yet, but now I'm getting excited to give it a whack :)

Jacquie Biggar

Rebecca York said...

Jacquie, I used Movie Maker, which is a free program from Microsoft. (It comes with some computers or you can download.)

Chassie West said...

Fascinating! And a fine "How To.." You make it clear, easy to understand and perform and will probably help any number of us to try it. Thanks, Ruth!

Rebecca York said...

Thanks, Chassie. We can play around w/ it next time at the writers' group.

pearl said...

Watching your evolution into a "Jill of all trades" is pretty cool. I find the fact that you are willing to plunge in and learn to do all of this (and do it well) very inspiring. I saw the trailer and it looks very slick, very professional. Kudos

Rebecca York said...

Thanks so much, Pearl. I saw a video saying that the hardest part of trying something new is overcoming the fear of trying. So I said--I'll try to learn how to make a book video!