Thursday, May 10, 2012

You Should Be in the Movies, Kid

Well, I’d heard the term “author video” and even heard one PR guru say she didn’t do book trailers for her clients, but she did recommend that they make author videos. Still, I would never have taken the plunge if the lady who is helping me set up a blog tour for my latest release hadn’t strongly urged that I make one. Well, I was paying her and I needed to get every penny-worth of value, so I gulped and decided that, low-tech though I am, I should at least make the effort.

My husband found that I have moviemaker on my computer and we have an inexpensive camera which we routinely use for Skyping with our children. That was the basic equipment, although we found— on about take 6, as I recall— that the sound was crisper if we used an external mic.
I knew from my Skyping experience that lighting is all-important. I turned on all the lights in the room and set up two extra lamps. And that was it for technology.

As to the script I considered doing an interview format, but settled on a combination of talking about my book and reading an excerpt. I wrote an outline of the points I wanted to talk about and selected my cutting.

As always when doing a reading, I edited the passage by selecting from my manuscript, cutting out anything extraneous to the immediate action, bumped up the font size, and inserted the printed pages into my book so it looks like I’m reading directly from the book.

Timing was a problem. Although this is a much more free-flowing format than a video, I knew it should be short. I think 3 minutes would be best. I had to keep it under 5 or the file would be too big to upload to YouTube. After several takes and edits of my manuscript (I lost count of the retakes), I still came out at the long end and can only hope that viewers will stay with me.

Someone more tekky than I am could go from here, add a cover, put music behind it, insert your website or book-buying information in printed form rather than the sign I simply held up,. . . Still I was pleased with the results. Exhausted, but pleased.
You can see the results here and judge for yourself:

And you can find A DARKLY HIDDEN TRUTH here:

Donna Fletcher Crow is the author of 39 books, mostly novels dealing with British history.  The award-winning Glastonbury, an Arthurian grail search epic covering 15 centuries of English history, is her best-known work. Donna and her husband live in Boise, Idaho.  They have 4 adult children and 11 grandchildren. She is an enthusiastic gardener.

 Her newest release is A Darkly Hidden Truth, book 2 in her clerical mystery series The Monastery Murders. She also writes the Lord Danvers series of Victorian true-crime novels and the romantic suspense series The Elizabeth & Richard Mysteries. To read more about these books and to see book videos for A Darkly Hidden Truth and for A Very Private Grave, Monastery Murders 1,  as well as pictures from Donna’s garden and research trips go to:


  1. thanks for the opportunity to share, jeff! One postscript, I have had a good response from this--as to people saying they liked it, but a couple of people have mentioned that it's a bit blurry. I suppose this could be due to my cheepo camera, but the vid i did for The Author Show using the same camera was clear. Someone higher-tech than I might be able to explain this.

  2. It worked out really well. I might even try it sometime. Thank you for all the nice low-tech suggestions.

  3. Nice job, Donna. I'll have to do this for my next release. I use iMovie rather than Moviemaker, but I expect there is a tutorial on your program to show you how to add text and even some of those research photos you mention. I find this tech stuff is always a learning experience, stretching me a bit more each time.

  4. Thanks Donna - this is definitely something I'll think about. I did a trailer for my first novel, One Smooth Stone, but didn't find it did much for me. Might try this.

  5. Oh, yes, LeAnne--stretching, indeed! Fortunately my husband is techy and I pick up bits looking over his shoulder.
    Congratulations on making your own trailer, Marcia! I think you'll find the Author Vid much easier to make than a trailer. Who knows about effectiveness? I think we just have to try what we can--then pray!

  6. This has inspired me to think seriously about doing a trailer for my upcoming book. You were very brave and resourceful. All this PR is such a time such.