In this post, we follow our blogger as she turns a story idea into a book, and then a book trailer.
The creation of the book trailer for The Device Hunter – the book I am just about to launch – goes back a long way. For anyone who is just starting out as a writer, or had been writing for a while, knowing what it took could be important. [Look at the video at the bottom of this post.]
Once Upon A Time…
About ten years ago, it was late at night, and I was in bed reading. I had just finished a series of short speculative fiction stories. How delightful, I thought, that in this genre simple things such as a toaster are more likely be called a portable sliced-bread browning device. Another thought occurred to me; what would they call x?
I beg leave not to tell you what ‘x’ is as it will ruin the entire plot of the book that I subsequently wrote.
What, my train of thought continued, if this turned out to be the most dangerous device ever invented? And what if no one could tell you what x was? And what if there was someone whose profession was ‘device hunter’, and he was sent to hunt down and kill the creator of X?
The next morning, I wrote the first chapter. I asked a friend to read it and she encouraged me to write the book. So I did.
What The Book Taught Me
Those three words, ‘so I did’, always make me laugh. Writing the book took about nine years. I consoled myself with the fact that JRR Tolkien took 12 to write Lord Of The Rings. There were a seemingly endless amount of rewrites and edits. But, and this is important, it was this book that taught me:
- Be brave. Try something different.
- My first book had been an historical romance. I went against all advice to stick to that genre for the rest of my writing career and tried a completely new genre. I’ve now written in five different genres and am currently writing in a sixth. And you know what? It’s one of the greatest delights of my life!
- Not everyone has to follow the same writing career path. Know the risks and then forge your own.
- My previous book had been meticulously plotted. This book was my first attempt at writing as a panster. I blamed that for the length of time it took. But in reality…
- The problem was my ending. The lesson: Know your ending before you begin writing. Once I had sorted that out, about 8 years into the writing process, things became easier. As a result, I have found my writing style – a combination of pantsing and plotting that suits me.
- Your original premise is just the starting point. You need a lot more ‘what ifs’ to write a book. Keep asking them as you’re writing.
- Don’t be afraid to start again. If you believe the original premise is a good one, keep going. Keep starting again, or starting again from the middle, or rewrite the ending as many times as necessary.
- Ask one or two people you trust to alpha read your manuscript in its raw form and really listen to their feedback. You may disagree with it, but it may, if you really want your book to work, open up other ideas, different solutions, sub-plots you hadn’t thought of before that will help you solve the problem.
Eventually, I had a manuscript of which I was proud. I gave it to three beta readers whose opinions I trust. Their feedback told me I had something good. That the rewrites were over. The edits now began.
For a while, I sent the manuscript out to publishers, but not for long. By this time, I had taken the rights to my first novel, Harcourt’s Mountain back from my publisher, and had written the sequel Heart Of The Mountain. I had now self-published both. So why not self-publish The Device Hunter?
Part of my writing process is to create concept covers for my books as I’m writing them. Somehow it helps ground the book in my mind and it becomes more real.
The Thousand Mile Journey
What makes life an adventure are the opportunities you have for learning new things, stretching yourself in new ways. And as the saying goes, ‘a journey of a thousand miles begins with one step’. Which leads me to the biggest thing the book taught me – sometimes to get things moving you have to not just take a step, but you have to take a step in a different direction!
What Happened When I Did Take A Step In a Different Direction
I had, over the years, scanned the websites of every model agency in South Africa. There wasn’t anyone that I could afford or who was in Johannesburg that was right. I had to take a step in a different direction. I had to get things moving or I could have been stuck in an endless, fruitless loop.
That step was to contact the photographer I’d used before. When I told my photographer of my model dilemma and showed her my concept cover, she said, ‘Oh, he goes to my church.’ As it was Hugh Jackman it was unlikely. But she sent me a pic of the person she meant. He was perfect.
My landlords went to a Saturday market to buy cheese and discovered there was an entire section devoted to coats. Knowing I was looking for a particular coat, phoned me immediately. I went the next day and at the first stall I walked into found the perfect coat for a price that made me ask a few times if it was correct.
One of my beta readers is a filmmaker that I met last year. He was delighted when I asked him if he would be interested in making the trailer for me. We spent the next few months getting our ducks in a row. Having the crossbow created and then repainting it. Punking up the coat, making the waistcoat, waiting for my model’s beard to grow, writing the script and finding a place to shoot both the cover and the trailer on the same day.
I’ve worked in television before, so I knew what to expect.
But that day was different.
This time I wasn’t producer and director. For someone as OCD as me, this was a day of letting go. You can imagine how hard this was. This book was precious! It had taken 10 years to get to this point and this was my first book trailer as well!
We had to wait for another shoot to finish and the studio to be cleared before we could begin.
The make-up lady had props she thought would help so leapt in her car and raced away.
The crossbow broke twice.
We all got high on the fumes from the leaf-blower, until the cameraman remembered he had an electric one in his car!
And the model had a meeting he had to get to, and we were running out of time.
But we did it! A whole day shoot for one cover and a less than 2 min book trailer. And that wasn’t the end. Then there were computer graphics, music to choose, logo to design, log line to write, and find a voice over artist! Phew.
All this on top of recreating the book cover for the final time and getting feedback on that (the endless discussions as to whether the glow on the gun should be on the stock, the front, or the bolt cylinder!), having the book formatted (and discovering things that had slipped through what had probably been the fortieth edit, sourcing and setting up a new computer, writing my sixth book and monthly short stories, as well doing my day job!
If nothing else, I was stretched! And that’s what adventures are all about, aren’t they?
The Last Word
Look out for my step-by-step guide to creating a book trailer. If you have always wanted to learn how to write a book, how ideas move from mind to page and beyond, then sign up for a course with Writers Write It’s the perfect place to learn and take the journey to being an author.
by Elaine Dodge. Elaine is the author of The Harcourts of Canada series. Elaine trained as a graphic designer, then worked in design, advertising, and broadcast television. She now creates content, mostly in written form, for clients across the globe, but would much rather be drafting her books and short stories.
More Posts From Elaine
- Plot Or Character – Which Comes First In A Romance Novel?
- 4 Great Fiction Books That Have Fictional Authors As Their Main Characters
- The Five Best Heroes And Heroines Of Romance Novels
- 3 Great Fiction Books That Have Real Authors As Their Main Characters
- 3 Great Books Set In Book Clubs
- 4 Great Books Set In Libraries
- Great Books Set In Bookstores
- Book Traditions Around The World
- The Different Types of Series You Could Write
- The Last Days Of NaNoWriMo