Making of a Finalist Trailer

The Secret Scoop: The Making of the Tell Me a Secret Book Trailer

Guest interview with Holly Cupala

Today, author Holly Cupala talks about her book trailer for Tell Me a Secret, (Harpercollins). It’s one of the finalists in the School Library Journal’s new Trailie Award. We asked her about how the trailer came to be.

What was the original concept for the trailer and how did you come up with it?

In the beginning, I confess I had no idea what I was doing! My husband Shiraz and I put together a script and creative brief on the star players, photos of what I thought they looked like, set descriptions, sound effects, music (the amazing “Ironspy” song from our friends at Splashdown)—the works. It was complex…a bit too complex, we realized, as we started looking into it. Then my writing friend Molly Blaisdell hooked us up with her screenwriting partner, independent filmmaker Paul Michael Gordon. His work is breathtaking, and miraculously, he wanted to do our project.

Originally we were thinking live action, but Paul does beautiful work with video and motion graphics. Then he came back with a concept using illustrations, which was totally unexpected and amazing. We all fell in love and refined it from there.

What software/hardware did you use?

An ambrosia of various programs—Paul uses mostly After Effects. Shiraz used Illustrator to refine the images, I recorded the voiceover on my iPhone(!), and Shiraz layered the music and voice with SoundBooth and Adobe Premiere.

What was the biggest problem you faced in producing the trailer and how did you overcome that problem?

I think the biggest challenge was refining the illustrations and the order of the images to reflect the story. In the first draft, the girl hugging her knees appeared at the “my parents have been lying to me all along” part. That image is such an emotional hook for me, just right for main character Miranda. So we moved her to the beginning and brought in the girl holding the bird, which I love—birds are a leitmotif in the novel. We also made significant alterations to the sister character in the storm to look like Xanda in the book. Then Shiraz worked on the timing of the voiceover and sound effects to get it just right. He produced the project, and he and Paul worked closely on all of the details.

You’ve been active promoting the trailer in various places. So many times, this effort seems wasted. Can you tell where it has made the most impact and where you wouldn’t worry about again?

I don’t feel like any efforts were wasted—and there is always more that can be done! I’m very grateful that so many friends and bloggers wanted to participate in the launch, where over a hundred bloggers linked to the trailer on YouTube and invited others to spread the word. We had a big party with prizes, and tons of people contacted me to say they had posted or tweeted or Facebooked. We also posted the trailer on Amazon, Goodreads, and are actively looking for places to spread the word. (Speaking of which…I need to put it up on TeacherTube…) On the flipside, I try very hard to be respectful of my friends and fans…I don’t want to inundate them with me all the time!

Everyone always wants to know: do book trailers sell books? Do you have any statistical or anecdotal info to share on this?

I wish we knew a way to track that! I don’t have any numbers, but I do see lots of comments from readers who plan to check out the book based on the trailer. Here are some of my favorites:

“I’m so intrigued. I’m definitely reading this book now!”

“If I hadn’t already read this amazing debut, I’d be scrambling to get my hands on a copy.”

“Gorgeous and riveting.”

“This book looks amazing!!”

I do think producing a trailer has helped raise the awareness of the book on a wider scale, and it’s fun to be able to point to it in interviews. And an honor to be a finalist in the SLJ Trailie Awards!


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