By Claire Gem (Guest Blogger)
What is a book trailer?
That’s the question I’m asked when I tell people I’m working on the trailer for my next book. Yes, we novelists borrowed the idea from the movie industry. Like an aperitif before an elegant meal, a trailer whets the appetite of our readers. It also gives the author an opportunity to introduce our readers, visually, to the world in which our book is set (for me it’s usually an old, haunted place) and to our characters.
I mean, I can see them in my head. I’d like for my readers to have an idea what they look like as well. This isn’t always as easy as it sounds.
My book trailers are created on iMovie, which is a wonderful tool (if you are a Mac user). I use photographs rather than video clips, adding text either directly on the photos or on black screens in between. The entire experience can’t be longer than a minute and a half, or you lose your audience’s attention. Who would think that putting together a 1.5-minute video could take dozens of hours?
Yet, it does. First, I have to figure out how to condense my entire book down into about 25 or 30 words. Yup, it’s even more difficult than the dreaded back cover blurb, which should run about 175 words. Photos help. Finding them is the greatest challenge.
I will admit, I usually go searching for photos of my hero and heroine before I even write the book. That makes them real in my head, and I keep those pics on my desktop. They are constantly there, reminding me to get to work on my manuscript.
We have a story to tell, damn it! Get busy! You are our only voice.
Where do I find them? I start on royalty-free sites like Pixabay, because of course any photos I use for the trailer or cover have to be royalty-free. If I can’t find them there, my next go-to site is 123rf.com because they have small, affordable packages. If my characters aren’t there either, Depositphotos is next, but they are markedly more expensive.
Once I have my characters, and the book is written, it’s time to find trailer pictures. I try to pick the highlights of the story—those intense and conflicted moments that reflect the themes. On the paid photo sites I can often find multiple shots of the same people—my characters—in different situations, which helps. Sometimes I have to settle for distant, blurred, or silhouette views which tie in with the photos I have.
For my latest release, ELECTRICITY, I actually took many of the photographs of the old mental asylum myself. I work on a campus of what used to be a state mental hospital, and although most of the buildings have either been renovated or razed, one remains. Hulking, ominous, and crumbling, it sits on the highest point of the grounds, abandoned. I managed to persuade the facilities manager to take me through the condemned building a few years ago, when I told him I intended to write a book about it. The photos that appear in the book trailer are very real, taken with my own camera.
Then, the music—one of the most important parts of a book trailer—also has to either be royalty-free, or you have to pay for the rights to use the piece. For ELECTRICITY, I was lucky enough to have a friend, Christopher Caouette, who composes epic and fantasy music. I asked him if he had any pieces that might be suitable for this trailer, and he suggested “From The Peaks,” which is perfect. He sold me the rights to use it for this trailer for a song. No pun intended.
So now that you know how difficult and time-consuming it is to create a book trailer, I invite you to enjoy the fruits of my labor – ELECTRICITY: A Haunted Voices Novel.
She’s an electrician starting over with her son. New job. New town. New life.
He’s a coworker who’s interested in more than her ability to run conduit.
The building they’re rewiring was once an insane asylum. It seems some of the patients never left.
Mercedes Donohue pulled up roots in Atlanta when her marriage imploded. She’s come back to New England, to the place where she was born. Mercy’s focus is to stabilize her teenage son’s life—he took the breakup pretty hard—and to establish her place, gain the respect of Progressive Electrical’s team.
She never expected so many sparks to fly so soon, both on the job and after hours.
Daniel Gallagher has been alone since his fiancé’s death. He’ll never feel that way about any woman again, and certainly won’t try with another independent, strong-willed one. Then Mercy short-circuits his plans.
Although the asylum closed its doors over thirty-five years ago, they discover quickly that the place is haunted.
If you like a heart-melting romance laced with healthy dose of supernatural thrills and chills, you’ll love Electricity.
Mercy reached around for her purse, tucked behind her seat, the one she never carried to work. No phone.
Damn it, she thought. I’ve left it at the job.
Not that it was a big deal. The campus was only a mile away, and she knew security was on duty all night. All she had to do was stop in at their make-shift office in the little brown house, ask access permission to the Gravely Hall and find her phone. No big deal at all.
It was almost dark by the time she pulled up to the Campus Police building. The sleepy-looking young officer who accompanied her back out into the parking lot seemed almost grateful for the distraction. He tailed her car in his cruiser to Gravely Hall. Mercy followed him up onto the mildewed steps as he used a key from a huge metal ring to open the padlock.
“Do you have a flashlight, Miss?” The young patrolman stepped aside as the door opened, seeming reluctant to accompany Mercy into the old building. The long shadows of evening had already stamped the interior into dense gloom.
“Yeah, no problem,” she grinned at the greenhorn cop. “I’ll be back in just a minute.”
The musty smell and odd air quality seemed amplified in the growing darkness. Mercy strode confidently toward the broad staircase at the end of the great hall and snapped on the flashlight she always kept hooked to a loop on her overalls. She must have left her phone in the small anteroom, she thought. She must have laid it down after Reagan called her earlier that afternoon and failed to pick it up when she was packing up her tools.
Access to the lower level was at the far end of the great central room, and some pale light still slithered in through the greenish glass panes of the windows near the head of the stairs. As she descended the creaking boards, a smothering calm increasingly muffled all sound. Mercy felt an instinctive impulse to reach for a light switch, but of course, there was none, at least none in working order.
In the waning glow of daylight seeping in through the high basement windows, she could make out the shapes of the porcelain tubs, standing in a sentinel row. A damp shiver ran up and down her back. Mercy straightened her shoulders and cleared her throat.
I’ll just go directly into the anteroom where I’d been working, she thought, and retrieve my phone. Then I’m outta here.
She’d gotten to the open doorway of the small space when she heard the sound. A water sound, almost like waves lapping at the edge of a pool. Or on the sides of a bathtub: that soft sound of liquid kissing its solid prison walls. The tubs along the back wall weren’t even connected to a water source anymore. They’d been dry and littered with small chunks of dusty debris when she and Daniel worked around them earlier today. Some still wore their mildewed, leather coverings.
Mercy hurried directly toward the room she’d last worked in, her light flashing wildly through the mostly empty space. She aimed the beam into the gaping hole of the toilet, but it was as dry as it had been earlier in the day. Struggling to ignore the increasingly loud sloshing sound, reverberating now louder and louder all around her, she located the black wedge of her cell phone. It was lying abandoned on the concrete windowsill. She snatched it up, clutching it tight to her chest. The hard-plastic case felt reassuring in her grasp.
As she crossed the central room, the water sound echoed in the space around her, seeming to get louder with every step. Her heart hammered in her chest, and she quickened her pace. Almost there.
Resonating above the sloshing sounds, she could swear she’d heard her name. Mercy jolted to a stop and spun around. The sound had come from behind her, it seemed. Or had she imagined it?
It must be the security officer. He must be calling from the head of the stairs.
“Hello?” Mercy called out. Her voice reverberated so loudly it startled her. “I’ll be right up,” she called again, and flashed her light beam in a path straight toward the stairs.
The voice came again, louder now. Wheezing and feeble, it sounded like that of a very old man, or a very sick one. Had one of the homeless sought refuge here for the night? A jumble of thoughts tumbled through Mercy’s mind, panic obliterating the logical portion.
How would anyone even know her name?
A veil of clammy perspiration blanketed every inch of her skin. Dank basement air threatened to seep right through her. Clutching her phone to her chest, she jabbed the flashlight beam wildly with her other hand, back and forth across the wide expanse of the room. The ray glanced off the white porcelain shapes, transforming them into hulking ghosts standing in ominous formation.
“Who’s there?” she shrieked. Her voice echoed and bounced back to her in empty coldness.
This third time the voice was faint, fading, melting into the mysterious water sounds which ebbed like the receding of an ocean wave. Silence ballooned around her, black and deafening, enveloping all sound except for the wild pounding of her pulse in her ears. Mercy fought the panic rising into her throat and broke into a full run toward the steps. To the exit, where the officer was waiting for her. Toward safety.
About the Author
Claire writes contemporary romance with supernatural elements—love stories set in old, haunted places. She is the author of the Haunted Voices series, which are standalone paranormal romances linked by genre only. They can be read in any order. Her books have been recognized by competitions such as the N.Y. Book Festival, the Holt Medallion Awards, the RONE, and the National Fiction Awards. Her latest release, ELECTRICITY, takes place in an abandoned mental asylum.
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