Although as writers we spin tales with words, we still rely to some extent on the power of images. Not least in the case of book covers, but also with illustrated books, children’s nursery rhymes, poetry and graphic novels. Matching words and images produces a powerful medium, and I suspect many writers would relish the idea of working closely with a artist on such a project. It might not be suitable for all literary work, but anything that conjures powerful visual images within the imagination would gain a lot from an illustrated edition. It would be great to be able to afford to have both Sangian and Spaceship over Vancouver illustrated.
If I could, the books would then match, my imagination. When I’m writing two kinds of processes take place. With dialogue, there’s an imaginary conversation taking place, but with descriptive passages a storyboard runs through my mind, almost as though I’m working on a film rather than a novel. Sometimes it’s a single image, a moment frozen in time, and at others there’s a mini QuickTime movie whirling away somewhere. It’s a very visual process, as reading is too, in many ways. In many ways I prefer radio plays to television or film, simply because so much more is left to the imagination. And this is the attraction of books, too. Nevertheless, images can help to set context and inspire different kinds of visualization.
As much as it would often be perfect to include artwork within a book, for a variety of reasons this won’t take place. The closest we will get is with our cover art. Well, at least that used to be the case, but now video production is achievable at relatively low cost. It is now within scope of very many writers to add a video book trailer to their marketing portfolio. These need to be short, say 30 seconds to around a minute, so the costs can be kept low. Professional produced trailers will start for around a few hundreds of dollars. However, anyone imaginative enough to write a novel, and able to learn to handle some basic editing software, could easily put one together themselves in a few hours to maybe a couple of days of trial and error.
Software is easy to come by. Basic, but still powerful movie editing software is available for both the Mac and Windows. The best known starter programs are Adobe Premiere Elements at around $99.00 and the Apple iMovie at only $14.99. Both of these provide enough high quality features to produce professional level promo videos. The trailer below was made with iMovie 11 and features the novel Spaceship over Vancouver. It uses only still photos, few transition effects and a few different types of title frame and a sound track.
The video is a simple visual story, and so setting making it was approached in the same way as with a passage in a book. Before I started I mentally worked out a simple narrative, much in the same way we do when writing, and then found images that expressed the underlying idea. Once a first version was mocked up, it was then a case of fine-tuning both the content and the timing and duration of each element. Although to some people it might as a finished product seem complex, it really is no more difficult than writing a short description of your book, using pictures and sounds instead of words. Why not try, you might surprise yourself, and, who knows, gain a lot of new readers!