Chicken Scratches and a Trailer

I’m not sure what compels me to make book trailers. They aren’t very effective as far as advertisements go, not mine, at least. Like who really says, “I think I might want to read a book. Perhaps, I should watch some book trailers to decide which one.”

No one.

No one does that.

And yet, I persist. I think part of me just wants to prove to myself that I can do it…again?

So I did put together a trailer for Desmond Winters in the Realms of the Caged Sun. I really wanted an animated trailer; it is a book for kids, after all. Not crazy Disney-level animation but some variety of drawings moving on the screen.

I found some free animation software. The concept looked really great, but it was endlessly complicated and didn’t save my file properly one night after I’d worked on it for hours.

I also looked at using Flash. I actually have that software already. I can’t remember why it didn’t work out. It might have been due to my extremely rusty Flash skills. What I did end up using is PowerPoint. It does a few things with animation and worked okay.

But first, as with most of my projects, I started out with some chicken scratches. Step one was writing the words, and then I decided what images would go with those words.

Here’s a picture of what my semi-coherent notes look like.

trailer notes

Pretty, right? 🙂

I cranked up the contrast to try to make my chicken scratches stand out a little better. You might be able to bigify the picture if you click on it.

So we have 3 columns on the first 2 pages: script notes, animation notes, and timing of each component. I tried to allow adequate time for people to read the words on the screen.

Then I drew up the images in Fireworks, except for the sun at the beginning of the trailer. I did that one in Photoshop because I wanted to paint it.

Each moving part is a different drawing. There’s a beastie that’s a combination of a mole and a bat, and that drawing is a combination of 4 different image files if you count the fireball.

Animation in PowerPoint is pretty limited because it’s not really built for that sort of thing. There is an animation panel that you have to add to the interface through a setting. Here’s what the pane looked like for one of the slides.

animation pane

Once I had the animations finished, I picked some music. Then I hired a guy on Fiverr to do the voiceover. He was super nice.

Oh, I also edited the video in Windows Movie Maker. With PowerPoint, you can export slideshows as videos. I had to add the music and the voice separately, and I think I added them both in Windows Movie Maker.

The whole project probably took a couple of weeks of evening work time (maybe it was 3?) and I only spent $5 on the voice guy.

Here’s the finished product.


The cover winner and a book trailer

Results of the book cover vote are in and the blue cover has won! So, we move forward with the blue as the primary cover and the galaxy as the paperback kickstarter edition. It has been decided.

Here is the finished book trailer. I’m still thinking about shopping around for better music.



I need to tattoo these words somewhere I can see them every day. I have a tendency to chicken out, not from writing and publishing, thank God, but some marketing activities I could be doing.

I’m delaying the kickstarter again. I’m not chickening out from that. I’m okay with the kickstarter campaign because it’s a win for me no matter the outcome, the consolation prize being free advertising.

The task I’m having trouble with is creating illustrations to go with the book. The goal is to incorporate them into the trailer and use them as marketing tools elsewhere, too.

I’ve been drawing pretty much my whole life. Despite that fact, I’ve never been one of those people who can just whip something up in 30 seconds and have it look perfect. I’ve known people like that. I admire them very much. I wish I could have that level of genius.

So, there are 4 illustrations. Each features a character or two, and those are the most difficult kinds of illustrations for me. I never seem to get them right. I’ve actually had them planned for a while. I put them down, but I can’t get them out of my head, so I pick them back up.

This weekend, I put them aside for the eleventy billionth time. My confidence wavered again. Part of the one I’ve been most focused on the most wasn’t looking as good as I would have liked. Last night, I picked it back up and through some perseverance, I improved it, and when I finished, I realized that I can do this and it can be awesome. I just need to keep going. I can’t let doubt get in the way this time. I don’t want to chicken out again.

book trailer complete

Despite my resistance to completing this project, it’s finished! It actually only took about 8 hours all together.

So why the resistance to completion? I was being a chicken. I’m actually a giant coward. This is the last thing I needed to do before working on putting together the kickstarter campaign I plan to do. As long as I was working on the trailer, I didn’t have to worry about it. A state of working is a very safe place for me.

My goal with the kickstarter campaign is to raise some money for advertising because my advertising budget is basically nothing. I don’t make enough money from my writing to justify draining the family checking account.

Oh wait…should I admit that?

Worrying about the kickstarter campaign is silly anyway because it’s pretty much a win whether or not I raise any money. Even if no one buys in, I still get to slap my name and book info up on a website. Free exposure. Woo! That’s well within the budget.

Here’s the trailer. I put the graphics together in fireworks, did the animation in powerpoint, exported it as a windows media video and imported it to window live movie maker to add the music.

The great and powerful oz has spoken.