Thursday, April 1, 2010

AN INTERVIEW WITH MARIANNE NOWICKI ABOUT THE EFFECTIVENESS OF BOOK TRAILERS AS RAZZLE DAZZLE MARKETING TOOLS FOR NEW AUTHORS

Are you a debut author who is wondering whether you should invest in a professionally made book trailer? Recently, through the magical world of Facebook, I discovered that my long lost close college friend Marianne Nowicki was in the business of designing trailers for authors. I asked her to make the trailers for Freaked (HarperTeen 2009) and Stranded (HarperTeen 2010). Wow! was I wowed at the results. Marianne and I discussed her process which in a lot of ways sounded like my process. Designing trailers seems to be yet another place creativity in book making merges and becomes collaborative.

JD:
Do you think book trailers offer a new way for consumers to browse? How will trailers affect bookstores? Do you foresee them becoming part of a card catalog record in libraries?

MN:
The book trailer is a relatively new promotional method, but clearly one that will be sticking around. For YA readers, it is a no-brainer. Today's tweens and teens are so used to viewing videos and movie trailers - trailers are a great way to compete in today's technological and visual marketplace. But I think authors and publishers of all genres will find them an exceptional marketing tool. Personally, I still love using written text in my trailers- in lieu of voiceovers - it makes more sense to me when I consider that they are promoting books, not movies, but that's just me. Can't really say what will happen with the library card catalog. I am finding it interesting however that many high school book club sites now have spots for trailers.

JD:
How did you get into the business of making book trailers? what specialized skills do you bring to the field?

MN:
My background in the advertising industry (specifically working with professional photographers and illustrators) has been invaluable to me. It taught me the importance and power of a strong visual - it most certainly could make or break an ad. The advertising photography business changed drastically with the advent of digital photography and the growing availability and popularity of exceptional stock photography. There is so much to choose from today -having the background to discern between powerful and weak imagery is certainly an asset in my current incarnation as a book trailer producer. I got started producing trailers initially when I began offering web video production services to a few authors and speakers I was providing virtual assistance to and that organically led to producing their book trailers. At some point, I realized that I had a knack for translating the essence of a book visually. I have a blast putting together these trailers - it is a great creative outlet for me.

JD:
Very neat. How closely do you collaborate with authors? What questions do you ask them before you start work on a new trailer?.

MN:
I work very closely with my authors and I am particularly concerned when it comes to the text used in my trailers. In the essence of keeping the trailer moving forward, it usually becomes necessary to insert at least some text that isn't directly quoted from the book - it is very important to me that the authors have a comfort level with all text in the trailers and particularly so if it is written from the perspective of one of the characters in the book. Also, although I tend to shy away from showing too much of a person's face or body in any single clip (I don't want to detract from the reader's experience of developing their own mental picture of what a character looks like) I do like to be sure I have the basics correct and rely on my authors to tell me if they think the image I have chosen is not working. The authors are so intimately connected with the characters and locations described within their books - and it is important to me for them to feel that I got those parts right. The authors I work with have as much say as they want, but ultimately they understand that they are hiring me for my eye as well.

JD:
All of your trailers have unique, vivid color schemes. How do you choose the tones you use? Do you think the color choices affect the mood of each trailer?

MN:
Definitely. There are certain colors that portray mystery better than others, or humor better than others. Think about any great movie that you have seen - they all have some effect that provides continuity. Directors are hired to bring a look and feel to a movie - to add a consistency to the clips and a continuity to the imagery. The same is true for graphic design - when I receive a brochure or catalog, the ones I am most drawn to - that appear most professional and relay a strong branded message- are the ones that employ a color and mood consistency. Many times when I am asked to produce a trailer, the book cover art is already chosen - if that is the case, I try very hard to figure out how to incorporate the feeling and color scheme of the book cover into the trailer. The same is true for any special effects on the images.

JD:
I noticed on your site that you have made trailers for both fiction and non-fiction titles. Is there a difference in how you approach the two? How much does one have to inform, the other tell a story?

MN:
They both have to tell a story, but most non-fiction books by nature are informational, so there usually is more of an informational quality to the non-fiction trailers. However, it is equally as important to develop a look and mood to be carried throughout a non-fiction trailer. And with both fiction and non-fiction, it is crucial that you understand what types of images will appeal to your market.

JD:
How do you choose the text you include? Do you quote directly? Do you sometimes paraphrase? How often do you find images alone can convey what you need?

MN:
It is such an organic process, but if the book offers direct quotes that work to tell the story in two minutes, then I love using them - that happened most often in the Freaked Trailer so far. But there is always going to be some amount of paraphrasing to be sure the trailer on its own makes sense. I have found that when I want to speed up the trailer and highlight a particular peak in the plot - images on their own can tell the story. Almost all the trailers I work on have at least a few clips that contain no text. Although that is less true for non-fiction trailers.

JD:
How do you choose the parts of a story you can tell? Is creating suspense one of the objectives of making a good trailer?

MN:
As an avid reader, it is very important to me to completely read and digest the book before I can get too involved in making a trailer (although I do take notes all along the way to earmark strong visual descriptions, quotes, and what I call key plot moments). Suspense, intrigue, mystery, connection - anything that compels the viewer to want to know more, is a crucial part of an effective trailer. I never lose sight of the fact that trailers are promotional tools - I think of them as dynamic visual book jacket blurbs and I am very wary of giving away plot spoilers.

JD:
Visual book jacket blurbs, I like that. How important is the audio portion of the video? Are the complications or difficulties in acquiring musical rights?

MN:
I am always unbelievably surprised at how great some of the stock audio is - but it is important to read the stock music agreement carefully - I always call my sources to confirm the use. That being said - I spend almost as much time searching for the right soundtrack as I do for all of the images to be used in the trailer. Because for me, it is crucially important that the music reflects the overall feel and genre of the book and will appeal to the book's intended readership. And once you find that - is it interesting? does it change pace and allow you to spotlight certain clips in the way you want? I do find I have to edit most music in order to fit all of these demands. A good portion of my downtime is spent researching great audio sources.

JD:
Which leads us to the question of what is the difference, in your opinion, between a trailer that works (and might lead readers to buy a book?) and trailers that don't?

MN:

For me, trailers need to have all elements working in concert to be visually effective. For my style of trailer, that means text, font, imagery, music and other audio, color and style. Referring back to your first question, I think that is one of my greatest strengths - making them all work together. There are many different styles of trailers - I recently saw one that was simply an author giving a reading, but the subject matter was so poignant and emotional that she was really able to connect with the viewers (a few shots of the audience in tears also helped tremendously). So, different types of trailers can be equally effective. The acted movie-style trailers can also be very effective, but can be very costly to do well. In a nutshell, an effective book trailer is one that leaves the viewer needing to know more..................


JD:
Speaking of knowing more, how should someone who wants a trailer or has more questions contact you?

MN:
Probably the best way to contact me for questions and consultation is at my website: http://nowickiproductions.com

JD: Thank you Marianne. It’s been a pleasure conversing with you and I love the trailers you made for me.
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3 comments:

  1. Great interview! I learned so much. Any advice on where to post trailers?

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  2. You've got me thinkin' I may need/want a trailer....!

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  3. There are about ten to twenty sites now who invite people to post trailers for public viewing--Trailery, Blazing Trailers, etc. You can also now post trailers on Amazon and on Goodreads. A few bloggers offer trailer Tuesday. I received a lot of hits from Schooltube. Some e-mail accounts also let you post thumbnails to trailers as part of an e-mail signature. I usually attach a link to anything I send out to to bookstores, etc.

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