Your Book Is Out...Scary Words

Monday, January 18, 2016

It’s happened, finally, the moment you’ve dreamed of. No going back now. Your book is out, delivered, on the market. Now you wait, with baited breath, hoping, no, praying that others will get what you were trying to say, relate to your characters and love what you’ve written. Maybe like would be enough. Yes, that would be excellent if everyone who reads your book likes it.

The reality is you have no control over how your book is and will be perceived. Every reader will see something different in your words; infer your intentions from their own experience, their own point-of-view. Most opinions will delight and encourage you to continue writing. The negative you may never know because readers are incredibly generous, especially friends and family. Some readers will see things in your work you never intended; things that will surprise and delight you. It’s these things, the latter, I’d like to address here.

My first book, If I Were A Road, a story book followed by questions and classroom activities, led to a series of two others, all designed to enhance creative thinking in young students. The advanced vocabulary and higher level thinking questions inside were aimed at students ready to give more than the typical, who, what, where and why answers demanded by most educational products; questions most students would find too difficult to handle.

  So imagine my surprise when Title 1 teachers began using the books for middle school students who had difficulty reading. The advanced vocabulary given in short sentences in picture book format didn’t overwhelm or talk down to the older struggling reader, I was told.

The open-ended, story-song picture book, CD and DVD, Arlie the Alligator, written for the kindergarten through third grade student became a hit with preschoolers. One mother wrote to tell me “Arlie” was her son’s first word. Another said her three year old memorized all the text and song lyrics on the word-for-word CD and demanded she play the CD every time they got into the car.

In the story, Arlie the Alligator tries to talk to children on the beach but bellows and scares them away. He vows to someday figure out how to talk to the children. During a whole school assembly in a public school, a little boy, probably a first grader waved his hand madly as I spoke. When I acknowledged him, the little boy shouted, “I know what Arlie can do. He can praise the Lord!” Talk about an unexpected surprise.  

My newest book, We Bought A WWII Bomber, about an incident that took place on the home front during the war, is impacting veterans, especially WWII veterans, in ways I never anticipated. In the few short months it’s been on the market, I’ve heard from several readers who shared it with their ninety plus year old parents and grandparents with the following results; veterans, who never spoke of their war experiences, began speaking of them for the first time. One acquaintance shared that he and his brother sat mesmerized for over two hours as his ninety-five year old father began talking about his WWII experiences. The acquaintance said neither he nor his brother had any idea what their father had lived through. 

It never occurred to me that one of my books would help another writer better define the actions of her characters. A writer colleague mentioned in a recent blog - - that, “I knew that Kate and Lillie, the protagonists in my book, Half-Truths, would have been in elementary school during World War II. Reading this book made the time period come alive for me and helped me think more deeply about how those shortages affected them."

An idea hits you. It twists and turns in your brain until the story begins to emerge. You write and write some more. Then, after multiple revisions and edits, you send it off hoping for publication, believing all along that it’s worthy of a contract. The contract comes. The word comes. The book is finally out, delivered, on the market.

It’s not yours anymore. You’ve given it to the world. No reason to fear. Let the real adventures, the surprises begin.

Have you been surprised by someone’s reaction to one of your books or an article you may have written? Something totally unexpected? Something you never imagined in a million years? I’d love to hear about it. 


Share your experience by February 1st and WIN a book of your choice from Sandra Warren's website. 

Book Trailers Made Easy

Saturday, January 2, 2016

The word is out—books with book trailers, like movies with movie trailers, get more attention than those without. So how do you go about getting one made? Where do you start? It's not as hard as you may think. 

When the concept of using book trailers to market books first came about several years ago, I created one for my children’s picture book, Arlie the Alligator. It’s still on my website but it’s full of errors, the number one being, it's way too long. (An updated version is in process.) 

I am no expert, but I thought the process I went through to create a book trailer for my latest book, We Bought A WWII Bomber, might help those thinking about making one.  

Begin by clicking the link below. If you like what you see, if it holds your interest and tweaks your curiosity, continue reading. 

Here are the things I’ve learned about making a book trailer:

Do your homework! The size of your wallet will not necessarily determine the quality of the end product. Knowledge will.

Research book trailers and you will find the full gamut in length and format;  a simple book cover with text super-imposed to music, to full productions featuring actors performing on elaborate sets with music and sound effects. Don’t be intimidated.

Take a webinar on the subject. When you Google “book trailer webinars” you’ll find multiple choices. Many experts will whet your appetite with a FREE session which almost always is followed by a pitch for more in-depth sessions for a fee. The FREE sessions, however, usually contain great basic information.

Google “book trailers” to find multiple links designed to help you create your own. Most folks will hire a production company but for those who are tech savvy, directions for how to do them yourself are also available. I hired a production company called, PhotosInMotion.  

Study basic information and various opinions on what to include and what to avoid.

Here is a link I found particularly helpful:  


It, not only gives rational for having a book trailer, the basics about them and how educators can use them in the classroom, it also includes multiple examples to view. Take a look at the book trailers for The Spider and The Fly and Where The Wild Things Are, given at the end of the above link.  

1. Study the use of illustrations/photographs/setting
2. Study the use of camera angle and motion
3. Study the use of voice over or mix of text and voice
4. Study the use of music and sound effects
5. Study their length
7. Study the use of text: scrolling in from one side or another, boxed on its own, or superimposed           over illustrations
8. Study the text itself. Did it come directly from the book? Was it more like a pitch? Did it reveal too     much of the story or just enough to entice? Did it ask a question? Did it hold your interest? Did it       make you want to read the book?

Analyze the above items and make note of techniques you like. Also analyze other book trailers with the above items in mind. Try to figure out why the book trailers you like hold your interest and why others fall short?  

Preparing to make your book trailer:

Have a clear vision or concept of what you want your book trailer to look like but be open to suggestions. A good producer will be able to take your basic information and weave it into something to be proud of. For the above book trailer about the bomber book, I gave the producer a jpg of the book cover, 10 photographs and 14 lines of text. He did the rest.  

Time is money. The more detailed your concept, visuals and script, the easier, faster and cheaper it will be to produce.  

Gather visuals to enhance your trailer. They might be illustrations from the book or photographs of people, places or things or an object related to your story. Text will dictate the visuals. For my 1 minute 12 second book trailer, I sent 10 photographs taken from the book and the book cover. My producer, Doug, from PhotosInMotion, added 5 more graphics.

Instead of illustrations or photographs, you may prefer to use locations and actors. If so, you’ll need to know who, what, where and when?

Writing the text – tell about your book in as few words as possible! Use the one sentence pitch idea. Ask a question. Write out what you want to say and then cut, cut, cut into couple second sound bites.

I started with this synopsis: This is the story of students in 1943 who during WWII  raised $375,000 by selling US War Bonds and War Loan Stamps and bought a B-17 Bomber. It was flown into their home town where they had a dedication ceremony after naming it The Spirit of South High and watched as it flew off to war never to be seen again. Seventy-two years later they found it had crashed in Meadows of Dan, Virginia. Now the rest of the story can be told.

I ended up with this:
1. Can a group of students change the course of history?
2. They could and did in 1943 during WWII.
3. They sold US War Bonds & War Loan stamps
4. $375,000 worth
5. And bought a B-17 bomber
6. Etc., etc.

Fourteen (14) very short sentences or partial sentences, equal to approximately 45 seconds spoken, were used in the book trailer. According to The Writer's Digest Guide to Manuscript Formats, 130 words of text will take approximately 60 seconds spoken.  The exact word count for the bomber book trailer is 93 words, equal to approximately 45 seconds spoken. The remainder of the 72 seconds (1 minute 12 seconds) is filled with book cover images, purchase information and company identification. 

The type of font selected can detract or enhance your book trailer. Does your story dictate a swirly romantic font or something more formal? Will the font look better regular, bolded or italicized? A consistent font throughout is best. My producer presented four fonts embedded within the sample trailer so I could actually see which ones I preferred. Make sure the font used enhances your book, matches the flavor of the story and what you want to say?
How will text be used? Will it scroll across each page or frame, be spoken or both? If you want the text spoken, you will need to either hire someone or do the voice-over yourself. Make sure the person who does the voice-over understands the concept of the “smile.” You can hear a smile. If the voice-over person speaks without smiling, the dialogue or spoken text will sound flat.

Before hiring a voice-over person, I was shown a book trailer where the text slid smoothly across each frame backed by music and powerful images. The movement of the text forced me to interact with what I was watching as it captured my attention. Reading the text myself was so powerful, I knew that’s what I wanted my audience to feel as they watched my book trailer. 

I had no idea what music to use. I left that up to my producer. The company, PhotosInMotion, as would most production companies, owns the rights to hundreds of royalty free music samples in any style and tempo. My producer edited four different pieces of music into four versions of the trailer and let me choose which I liked best. The particular piece in the final bomber book trailer was the only one of the four that crescendos to the end.

The production company you hire doesn’t have to be in your town. Most if not all of your communication can and will be done electronically. PhotosInMotion, the company I used, is in Michigan. I live in North Carolina.  

If you're wondering how to approach a production company, what to say, what to ask (?) read on: What follows is a list of questions to get you started.

1. What does your basic cost cover for a 1 minute book trailer?
2. What information do you need before you can begin?
3. Do you have royalty free music to use? If so, will you give me options to choose from?
4. Do you have someone who does voice-overs?
5. Is voice-over talent included in your basic cost? If not, how much extra will it cost?
6. What additional hidden costs are likely to occur?
7. Once I hand in all the requested information, how long will it take?
8. Do you require a down payment?
9. What is my recourse if I’m unsatisfied with the final product?

The above information was compiled from my personal experience. I in no way claim to be an expert on this topic.

I hope this post tweaked your interest in making a book trailer.

Have you done a book trailer? How does my experience compare to yours? What else would you recommend? I’d love to hear from you.

Sandra Warren is the author of Arlie the Alligator and other books for children and adults.

We Bought a WWII Bomber: The Untold Story of a Michigan High School, a B-17 Bomber & The Blue Ridge Parkway!  "This bit of local history is a reminder of unheralded resolve and determination by students during WWII" Publishers Weekly/BookLife 
Available: - – Ingram - Road Park Books, Charlotte

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About Me

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Hi! I’m Sandra Warren, a writer with very eclectic writing tastes. I’ve been fortunate to have publications in multiple genres including children’s, gifted education, parenting, how to, poetry, journal, educational activity guides and biography as well as audio and video production. I'm a city gal recently transplanted to the mountains of NC where glorious mountain vistas inspire latest renderings.

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