Archive for November, 2014

Anatomy of a Book Trailer

November 26th, 2014

I have formed a film company for creating book trailers called PictureYourBook. What is a book trailer? It’s a 1-3 minute video promo designed to tell readers what the book is about and intrigue them enough to buy it. Yes. Just as a movie trailer (a.k.a. a movie preview) lets an audience know about a film, so a book trailer informs readers about a book (eBook and/or print).

And, believe it or not, there are two sets of awards for Best Book Trailer. The Moby Award and the Trailie Award. But I get ahead of myself so see the end of this post for more.

Book Trailer Venues
A book trailer that can be placed on an author’s website, their publisher’s website, YouTube, Vimeo, etc. the author can run it during book talks. (I have and to resounding applause, I am pleased to report). A trailer can be DVD’d, blogged, emailed, and used in marketing in any ways the author or their publicist dreams up.

Creating a Book Trailer
The procedure for creating a trailer follows the basic 4-step filmmaking process: Plan, Storyboard, Edit, Deliver.

Types of Book Trailers
I’ve spent hours viewing countless book trailers. Some of them are atrocious, consisting of zooms into the book cover and back along with blurbs and unappealing music. Others are fantastic – both low budget author-on-camera trailers and high budget movie type trailers with movie stars. From my sortie through book trailer land, I’ve identified many types of trailers. Here are a few of the types paired with examples:

  1. Trailers featuring the author
    • Boys, Girls and Other Hazardous Materials Rosalind Wiseman talks about how her students helped her write her book, how she giggles while typing it, and how she interviewed students. The trailer firmly establishes her credentials in the beginning and shows how and why she wrote the book and its appeal as well as her hopes and dreams for the book.
    • Freedom by Famous author Jonathan Frazen trashes book trailers at the same time standing up for books. This trailer won a Moby Award for worst performance by an author.
  2. Trailers featuring Animals
    Animals are always great at selling lots of products. Why not books?
    • Little Chicken’s Big Day Using the authentic voices of preschoolers to sell a book to them along with adorable chicks and drawings of chicks this trailer earned a Trailie Award.
    • While seated amongst bonobos in their habitat, Vanessa Woods tells why she wrote Bonobo Handshake . Won Moby Award for Most Monkey sex (which occurs in the background).
  3. Funny book trailers
    • A Simples Life trailer. Popular British funnyman Aleksandra Orlove narrates this humorous trailer about two meerkats, the stars of his book.
    • Super Sad True Love Story. Long (4:42) but skewers approaches to selling books: crazy author who can’t read & works for pickles & women w/faked Russian family, other well-known authors commenting, and even actor James Franco. Winner of the Grand Jury Moby Award, “We’re Giving You This Award Because Otherwise You’d Win Too Many Other Awards.”
  4. Stop motion Animation Trailers with Food
    Food can be a fun and informative way to wet readers’ appetites.
    • The Book of SPAM. This excellent trailer employs “Toastadvertising” – pieces of toast – to tell the tale.
  5. Documentary Style Trailers
  6. Text-Driven Trailers

Trailer Awards
There have been Trailie Awards for children’s’ books and Moby Awards for adult books though both awards are not currently being given out.

Moby Awards
A Moby is a tongue-in-cheek award initiated by Melville House, a Brooklyn based publisher given out an Oscar mocking ceremony. A thrown-together committee bestows a Golden Whale statue (a toy painted gold) on winners of trailers in a variety of irreverent categories e.g. “Least Likely to Sell a Book,” ”Most Celebtastic Performance,” “Most Annoying Appearance by an Author,” and “Biggest Waste of Conglomerate Money.”

Trailie Awards
The School Library Journal, a professional association of librarians, established the Trailie and designated six categories based on grade (PreK-6 and 7-12) and creator (student, adult, or publisher/author). Anyone can nominate or vote for a trailer but a committee of librarians selects the best and announces them at a reading conference.

Announcements, Editing practices, History/research, Technical & process

My New Book is Out: Read all About it

November 18th, 2014

Old Cable CarMy new book, Chronicles of Old San Francisco: Exploring the Historic City by the Bay is out! With 28 chapters centered on SF’s movers & shakers, it personifies history and helps you discover SF on your own with 8 walking tours aligned to Google maps.

View the trailer I created with Jay Scherberth, my partner in PictureYourBook, a trailer company.

Old Cable CarFor more info about the book and San Francisco check out my new website, the

Learn more about the book at the publisher’s site.

Buy the book online or in bookstores. I learned a lot about my old/new city in researching and writing the book. Enjoy!

Announcements, History/research