Sunday, September 4, 2016

Zombie in a Wheelchair, Anyone?

Summer break is over, and it’s time I got back to blogging more regularly. I’ll shoot for the every-Sunday schedule I used to be on. I’ve missed hanging out with you here, so I hope you’ll check in when you can.

A lot’s been going on. I have Sammy reissue news (which I’ll get to in another post), new book news (which will be fun to give you first scoop on), and other stuff (which I can’t really talk about yet, but will as soon as I’m able—you know the drill).

Let me start by sharing that our son Connor graduated college in June with a degree in Business and spent the summer here with us before relocating to Oregon (where he’s off to a great start in the ranks of the employed). During the summer I was lucky enough to have him work on a variety of projects for me. Our biggest undertaking was book trailers.

A lot of people kind of go, Huh? when I mention ‘book trailer’ so if that’s you, just know that book trailers are a Thing, and have been for some time. They’re like a movie trailer, only, you know, for a book.

There’s a huge range of what book trailers are like. Some are big budget and look like movie trailers. Some are just Movie Maker images of picture book art with words on the screen. In children’s books the idea is basically either to a) get the appropriate age group interested in reading the book, or b) get adults who buy books for children / young adults interested in the book.

In schools, many teachers and librarians “book-talk” titles to the students. They pick a stack of books and give a quick summary of each story, trying to spark interest or help students determine which book(s) to check out.

In addition to book talking (or sometimes in place of it) educators will show book trailers to get the kids excited. Book trailers can be beautiful, intriguing, funny, or a total snooze. It’s pretty amazing, the variety.

They’re also all over the map length-wise. It depends on the age / maturity of the viewer, of course, but I’m a believer in shorter being better (and I suspect that the teachers/librarians showing the trailers would agree).

Sometimes publishers will put together a book trailer for a title, but as with much in book promotion these days, the onus often falls upon the author to create one. If you think a book trailer is going to help your book, you’ll likely have to pull one together yourself. Because picture books are illustrated, you’ve got a lot of visuals to work. With a novel? That’s a whole different story.

The way Connor developed a vision for a trailer for my upcoming novel, The Secret Life of Lincoln Jones, was by making me talk about the book. Even though he already knew, he asked me to describe to him what the book is about, why I wrote it, how it affected me, what I saw as its purpose in the world…things like that.

When he was done nudging answers out of me, he determined that we needed to do two trailers. One of me talking—like I just had with him, and another that would capture the interest and imagination of the primary audience: 4th- 6th graders.

Yes, that's the Tattletale Toilet on screen.
The Secret Life of Lincoln Jones is a story about some serious things. Like escaping abuse, dealing with Alzheimer’s, and struggling to rise out of poverty. But it’s told from the perspective of an eleven-year-old boy and has chapter titles like “Tattletale Toilet,” “Zombie in a Wheelchair,” “The Admiral in Undies,” “One-Eyed Jack,” and “Hush Money Trouble.”

How do you effectively reduce such disparate elements to a one-minute video?

The answer is not short, and it’ll only makes sense once you watch the trailer. So I’ll end here with a link to the book trailer and return next Sunday with some stories about getting the footage (which, yes, includes a “zombie in a wheelchair.”)

So here are the links! At the end of the book trailer you’ll see a video insert for the interview trailer—me talking about why I wrote Lincoln Jones. I hope you’ll watch both and tell me what you think.

It’s good to be back. Thanks for visiting. I’ll see you in the comments!


Caradith Craven said...
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Caradith Craven said...

WOW! I can't wait to show this to students when I book talk Tuesday and Wednesday. It's the perfect length and so entertaining and professionally done. Kudos to everyone involved with it...especially Connor and you! Will be tuning in next Sunday when you give details about the filming, narrator, and getting it all put together. It's the perfect length for middle school students' attention spans. Fantastic job! Can't wait for the release of the book!

Wendelin Van Draanen said...

That's great feedback, Caradith. Thank you!

Kylie said...

Oh my how I have missed reading your blogs!

I remember when I was in elementary school I absolutely loved watching book trailers (even though they basically all looked the same, no where near as good as yours)! When ever we had a book fair they would always play the trailers the week before for us on our trip to the library and I always wrote down the ones I liked to I remember to check out the book the following week! My nephew absolutely loved your other books, (not Sammy Keyes, he hasn't gotten there yet), so I think I am going to suggest this one to him! Plus it fits perfect for his age range!

I can't wait to read about the making of it next week!

Have a fantastic week everyone!


Wendelin Van Draanen said...

Kylie! Thanks for checking in, and for sharing your experiences with book trailers. I'd be curious to learn what kinds of things you liked or didn't like in a book trailer. What made you want to read the book? We didn't have book trailers when I was a kid. Come to think of it, nobody ever "book talked" for us either. We just browsed and let a cover grab us.

Shaina said...

I only just discovered that you updated your blog! YAY! I have been thinking about you and hoping things are going well. In my head, all of my favorite authors are my friends. I figure writing is kind of personal--a window into your thoughts, so if you write things I love, then I love YOU too! I still think about the night I "met" you when you signed my book at the Sammy Keyes rockin' sendoff party in Puyallup, and wish it had been easier to talk in that high-volume room--haha! Anyways, I heard of book trailers only recently and I'm still trying to wrap my head around the concept--a movie to get you to read a book just sounds so funny to me! I think they are definitely geared towards the younger generation. Maybe book trailers would help me convince my 2nd grade son to read some of the amazing books out there! It took me all summer to convince him to read Shredderman, and now he's totally hooked--he read the entire series in a week and he keeps re-reading his favorite parts. I just hope he doesn't start trying to escape out his window at night because his room is on the second floor! :)

Kylie said...

I remember a lot of them being really dark, even when the book wasn't and that always turned me away from it. I really liked the ones that felt like they were the book, if that makes sense? Basically ones where I could see were reflecting the book well. Also ones that pulled me in, you know left me with unanswered questions that I would only be able to figure out by reading the book. Book trailers didn't really start until I was in 5th/6th grade, and the first ones seemed to pile too much information into them that you felt like you didn't need to read the book because you knew what was going to happen. Book trailers have definitely come a long way though. Your's definitely left me with unanswered questions so I am itching to read it!


Wendelin Van Draanen said...

Shaina-your son would probably love the Gecko & Sticky books (a spin off from Shredderman), tho you might have to help him a little because they're written on a slightly higher reading level. (FYI, they're also available in audio.) There's a book trailer Random House did for them. It's linked on my website if you want to check it out. It makes me super happy that he got hooked on reading with Shredderman. Thanks so much for sharing that!

Wendelin Van Draanen said...

Kylie -- this is so interesting to me because I didn't know when book trailers became 'a thing'. And what you describe mirrors what I feel about book trailers and movie trailers. Sometimes I'll see a movie preview and feel like I don't need to see the actual movie because they gave away the whole story in the preview. Zaps the motivation. Thanks for your comments about the Lincoln Jones trailer. Yay :-)