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Hachette Trailer Treat: Coming Attraction for Dog Lovers

For generations, moviegoers have been seduced into buying tickets for upcoming attractions by watching those all-important movie trailers, alluring previews that generate the ‘impulse buy,’ pulling you back into the theater for more. 

These 30-second trailers are elaborately produced, intended to incite in the viewer a visceral reaction. I think of them as Hors d’oeuvres, whetting your appetite for the main course. In fact, I often make my decisions about what movies I see based upon trailers, which ideally give you the flavor and texture of the story without giving the plot away.

While movie producers have banked on the power of trailers for years, it’s only in

History Precedes Book Evolution of Book Trailers

the last few years that the book industry is finally catching up, borrowing the concept by producing so-called “book trailers”– video advertisements for new releases that can be acted out using flash videos, animation, or simple still photos set to music (with optional narration), designed to build advance interest and sales.

It’s hard to believe that the first book trailer wasn’t produced until 2003! And it wasn’t until 2005 when user-generated online video upload became more popular that such trailers become a common reality on sites like MySpace, YouTube and iFilm. The cost of such trailers range from the bare bones low-end of $1500 to $15,000 and up toward $100,000 depending on productions values. But such trailers turn out to be invaluable as an author can use them on social networking sites, in their press kits, in presentations to book chains, on commercial sites selling books, at Book Expo America, and at book readings.

The Final Book Jacket Design

When I learned all this about a year ago, my goal was creating a book trailer of my own. After all, KATIE UP AND DOWN THE HALL is an emotional, highly-visual story that takes place along the Hudson River–with a very photogenic dog (Katie), an adorable little boy (Ryan), and a charismatic matriarach (Pearl), so I envisioned a book trailer that could capture the color and mood of the story.

Glenn, Ryan, Pearl, and Katie

But I didn’t get the idea of producing such a trailer until the great book coach, Ann McIndoo, suggested that I consult with with the renowned book marketing authority  John Kremer, who wrote a great book titled, 1001 Ways To Market Your Book. “If there’s one thing you should do, it’s build an Internet audience through social networking sites, one key tool to doing it being a book trailer.”

John defined the most effective book trailers as “poems with music,” consisting of three major elements–an inspiring message (the script), beautiful images (in my case, a montage of photographs that illustrate our family story), and atmospheric background music that matches the mood of the story. As an example of one trailer that got 40 million views, he sent me to thedashmovie.com.

So I set to work: The first thing I did was write a 4-minute script that would capture the essence of the story in an emotional way.  I started with the line: “Some of the best things that happen in life are purely accidental…an intuition can take you almost anywhere–even to a beautiful friendship when you least expect it. That’s what happened to me.” And then I transitioned to setting the scene by writing: “There’s a little town built on water with a never-ending parade of sailboats, ferries, and cruise ships.
Into this world arrived a homely little puppy with skinny legs and gigantic ears.”

Pitiful As A Puppy

That, of course, is the star of the book, Katie. And on it went.

Next, I combed through 20 of my scrapbooks, each identified by theme, choosing the most expressive pictures I could find. I eventually wound up with 300 “finalists,” that told the entire story of our 16 years together. From this pool of photos, I eventually narrowed it down to 65 pictures to tell the story of KATIE.

Finally, I needed to find background music that would match the mood of the story–and hopefully evoke in viewers an emotional reaction. One night, I found a great movie on cable titled “My Dog Skip,” and as soon as I heard the film score, I knew it was perfect for my story.

Photo Perfect Brandon Williams

And now, with all three elements chosen, I needed a video and sound editor to put it all together. It’s fitting that since my book is all about building a family from neighbors–I was able to build my book trailer the same way! One of my best friends is the brilliant Broadway and TV actor, comic, voice-over artist, and screenwriter Brandon Williams, who lives fifteen floors above me with his wife Sheila and their two young sons. Brandon has the most mellifluous voice–almost haunting in its expressiveness–and I felt he was the perfect person to record the trailer voice-over. As if all his other talents weren’t sufficient, Brandon, I quickly discovered, is also a skilled video editor. Brandon arranged the photos in the right order, matching the meaning of the script to the image, creatively panning and zooming on pictures, coordinating the final look of the trailer.

There was only one thing missing–a sound editor to record the voice-over and edit the film score to match the flow and meaning of the words. I lucked out knowing Diego Costa,

Diego Costa

a skilled musician and audio editor, who again, lives right in my building, 20 floors above me with his wife Daniela and their two young sons.  Don’t I have great neighbors?!

Diego and Brandon Recording Katie Book Trailer in my Dining Room

So rather than going into a recording studio or hiring a producer or video editor, we produced my book trailer right at home in my dining room! There we sat, and in just 3 hours, we recorded the script, edited the music, and then Brandon, over a period of just a few days, put the pieces all together. Taking the pictures of the session was Brandon’s talented wife, Sheila of Sheila Williams Photography.

The final result speaks for itself. Just click and see. I have to tell you that I’ve screened this trailer for many people–kids, seniors, businessmen, dog lovers, and those not even interested in dogs–and the reaction has been startling. Almost everybody who sees it cries! Why? I think it’s because each of us has a child, or a grandmother, or a best friend, or a dog in our lives who we’ve bonded with deeply–and who we’ve ultimately lost, due to the inevitability of death or separation.

Well, there you have the story of my book trailer. I recently found the trailer posted on the Barnes & Noble web site, pictured here. It makes me feel great to share the story of our lives with families and dog lovers everywhere. And if you come to the Barnes & Noble bookreading on September 16th, we’re going to have a special screening of the trailer, the evening hosted New York legendary journalist Liz Smith.

In the meantime, I hope you’ll watch the trailer–and let me know what you think of it.

9 Responses so far.

  1. John Kremer says:

    I love the book trailer. Great job. You learn fast. I hope it goes viral. I will share it with all my author and publisher friends.

    This is the way a book trailer should be created.

  2. This was fantastic. To be very honest i dont have any attraction towards dogs though I strongly believe they are more committed , honest and fun loving than human beings… But this was a great video very touching. Full of hope love and perfect for knowing that real people exists in this world

    Great job and good luck for everything that you do

    love
    Vish

  3. fehrmanbooks says:

    What a wonderful story! I began a rescue group for Saluki hounds ten years ago, http://www.STOLA.org and your story beautifully depicts the amazing influence that animals can have on our lives. As a new publisher I hope that we can come up with a trailer even half as good for our authors. You did an amazing job – and thank you for giving Katie such a good life. This past Christmas I adopted a little Saluki pup who had been born with her feet turned backwards and some eye problems. I named her Lotus because she is like the beautiful flower growing out of the mud. She is now healed and happy and – oh yes – she is beautiful, just like Katie. I will add your link to STOLA’s Facebook page to share with my dog friends. You really made my day!

  4. Congratulations on living your message through the creation of your video. What a fabulous way to walk your talk. I wish you all the best of success with the launch of your book and look forward to reading it!

  5. barbaratechel says:

    Absolutely powerful what one dog can do to create such amazing connections. Such an inspirational message. I wish you the very best with your new book which I have no doubt will touch the hearts of millions.

    Barbara Techel
    Author of Frankie the Walk ‘N Roll Dog book series

  6. Hi Glenn, Robin Jay had your trailer in an email sent to me this evening. I have posted your awesome book trailer on my blog and recommended your story for a movie for Disney.. I look forward to reading your book and seeing it as movie someday :)

    http://theideagirlsays.wordpress.com/2010/07/29/katie-up-and-down-the-hall-glenn-plaskin-liz-smith-barnes-noble-book-read-sept-16th-2010/

  7. Beautiful story and book trailer. Such an inspiration to open doors that sometimes we are reluctant to open and often miss the love that might be waiting just behind that closed door.

    Annie B Lawrence
    Author of Love’s Secret Live Your Life In Love

  8. I was looking for inspiration for a book trailer for a book I co-authored with my son and was completely taken with your trailer. That is exactly what a book trailer should be. It was moving and now… I have to read your book! :-) Looking forward to getting a copy this September. Great job!

  9. Del Smith says:

    Dear Glenn,
    I’ve watched your beautiful book trailer many times, because I love the words, your voice, the music and the pictures. I’ve read your book and listened to your audio book several times, and I mailed a copy of your book to my mother, who also loved it. In my family, we love our dogs and cats like children just as you seemed to do with Katie and now with Lucy. I’m just waiting for a movie of your memorable book. I can’t get enough of your beautiful Katie!
    Best wishes, Del

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