The Unofficial Guide to Producing Your Own Book Trailer

It’s 10:19 a.m., the sunny Thursday morning is starting to heat up, and I’m lying facedown in a dew-drenched field. Literally. My chin is resting in the grass, and dew is soaking the rest of my outfit. And I’m thinking one thing.

I didn’t sign up for this.

Because writing is supposed to be fun and cozy and safe, right? You write a charming book, polish it up a bit, and poof! send it off to the world of readers who—of course—obsess over it and buy it in droves.

Heh.

But you’re probably wondering why I’m lying in a field getting grass stains on my pants. Trust me. I can explain.

Being an indie author has its curses along with its blessings. Yes, you get absolute control, complete authority over your art. But that also means you’re on your own with everything. There is no publishing house to do the un-fun stuff for you. You hire your own editor. You find a cover designer. And—hardest of all for me—you do all your own marketing.

That includes communicating with bookstores, managing an online social media presence, and—if you’re really extra—

Book trailers.

Last year, right before The Fiery Arrow came out I quickly pulled together some actors, costumes, and props and conjured up a book trailer. For a last-minute, low-budget affair, it was pretty decent. But with The Realms Beyond releasing on December 1st (*cough pre-order it cough cough*), I wanted to do something a little spiffier this time around.

I actually planned ahead. Scheduled multiple days of shooting rather than cramming it into one long day. Gave more thought to the costumes—many of which were painstakingly crafted by Rachel, who plays Arliss. And everything went exactly as I had planned, the footage edited itself, and I lived happily ever after.

Heh.

Okay, okay, it wasn’t that bad. But anytime you’re trying to juggle six actors, four different locations, and what felt like 564 costumes…there’s bound to be some stress. And a few interesting occurrences.

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Three of the fantastic cast members (who, incidentally, never share a scene with each other!)

We shot the bulk of the trailer at the local botanical gardens. Since it’s essentially a public park, we had to deal with the handful of people who were roaming the gardens, innocently walking their dogs or taking a jog.

Or giving us weird looks. (As if to say, “You do realize it’s not Halloween yet?”) Or stopping us for five minutes straight just to talk about some snapping turtles in the lake. Or telling us we were filming one of the scenes in a private area and that we had to relocate…

Yeah. But it’s okay. The new location had better lighting, anyway.

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Fun fact: Meghan, who plays Queen Elowyn, is actually younger than Rachel, who plays her daughter, Princess Arliss.
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There was plenty of sass going on behind-the-scenes.

You may remember my post about my big trip out west this summer. Well, I had mapped out some of the trailer (see, I really did plan ahead) and I managed to snag some shots in Yellowstone. Let, me tell you, they’re incredible. Vast, snowy fields. Spans of mountains. Perfect for the book’s wintry setting.

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The next shoot just involved Rachel (who plays the main character, Princess Arliss) and Zach (the male lead, Philip). We filmed at the stunning Toccoa Falls. At 186 feet, the waterfall is higher than Niagara Falls and provided a stunning background for a tense conversation between Arliss and Philip.

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We trekked the trail to the falls around 9:30, readied all the props, and set up the camera. Zach and Rachel started to rehearse lines. I climbed all over the boulders, trying to find somewhere flat enough for the camera.

That’s when one of the staff from the gift shop informed us there would be a wedding at the falls in thirty minutes.

You can imagine the shoot wasn’t as relaxed as I anticipated, but…let’s just say I did manage to capture the scene in under thirty minutes. We moved on to a field near the falls to film the last scene of the shoot.

I can’t explain the details of the shot, because it would spoil the book for you, and if you know anything about me, you know I hate people who spoil books. For this particular shot, I lowered the camera tripod to its lowest setting. It was getting warm for October 12th—because, you know, Georgia—and I was starting to regret the sweater I wore. I crouched in the grass and started to adjust the angle.

Just then, one of the legs snapped completely off the tripod.

So I tossed the whole thing aside and (here we go) lay facedown in the grass to capture the final shot.

I can’t show you that shot just yet. But I’m finishing up the edit, and I plan to release the trailer within a couple weeks.

For now, enjoy the pictures.

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