Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Book Trailers Day 3: An Interview with Tina Nichols Coury

Today, TC & TF welcomes Tina Nichols Coury, author, blogger, and producer of many book trailers.

How did you learn to make trailers?

In 2008, my husband, Al Coury, received a lifetime achievement award from a heritage foundation in Washington D.C. and needed to supply a ten-minute video about his career. I wasn’t happy with the videos that a production company had done for the organization. My control freak self rose to the surface and I decided to go take classes and learn to do it myself.

Could you give an example of a trailer you admire?

The trailer for “The Hunger Games.” It is powerful, short and leaves you wanting to read the book. Also the trailer for “The Graveyard Book.” I had interviewed Neil Gaiman on my blog after he won the Newbery and was tickled with the animated trailer that he narrated.

What questions should an author ask themselves about their book before making the trailer?

Number one: can I afford a professional trailer? If you can, make sure the trailer producer READS your book.(You'd be amazed at the stories I've heard about how they "didn't get it.") There are many different companies that specialize in creating video trailers. You can spend as little as fifty dollars for a basic one or up to fifteen hundred for an all out animated version.

But if you have a knack and the proper equipment, you can produce a trailer yourself. Start with a short script, three sentences long. Make it a tease and not the whole story. Next, search for the perfect music to set the tone. It must be royalty free! I know of horror stories where people had to pay royalty fees when their kid made a trailer using licensed music. There are websites that specialize in royalty free music - Music Bakery, Royalty Free, and Beatsuite, just to name a few.

You want your trailer to be unique so it stands out. Make sure the trailer is short: 40 seconds to 1:20 max. Use the cover, your photo and the publishers name to set you apart from the self-published. Publish it on You Tube using a work in progress title, like "A-13." DO NOT USE YOUR BOOK NAME AT THIS POINT! You risk having a ghost trailer when you delete it for the approved version. Send the video to your agent and editor for approval or suggestions. Make the changes and sit on it for a week, as you would with a rewrite. When there is approval on all fronts, name it.

What kind of challenges have you faced in producing trailers?

The challenges usually arise from the clients. Most production houses limit editorial changes to three for a trailer. I am into making the client happy and have at times done as many as ten changes when the agent and editors get involved. 

What kind of software do you use?

I use a 17-inch Mac book Pro, with Motion Four and Finale Cut Studio.

Can you recommend places on the web for linking trailers?

Be sure to post your book trailer everywhere you can: your website, Blazing Trailers, Teacher Tube, Amazon, You Tube, Vimeo…just to name a few. If you do a blog tour, start it off with the debut of your book trailer.

Thanks for all those tips, Tina!

TC&TF dedicates this week to book trailers, to celebrate the debut of my own for Tyrannosaurus Math (see sidebar), created by the young and talented Jesse Johnson.

Tomorrow: children's book author/illustrator Mary Ann Fraser tells us about making her first trailer.


  1. Thanks for all the really practical tips, Tina! I especially appreciate the tip to NOT use the title of your book when you're "auditioning" your video for your editor, etc.

  2. GREAT tips, Tina, especially the step-by-step instructions. I agree with Alexis about the title of the video - but is that only if you're getting approval from your publisher? Why would one upload a video to youtube prior to it being ready to uh, go viral? (Positive thinking here!)

  3. This is amazingly helpful. Thanks!

  4. I'm glad you find it helpful! While sending "draft" versions of the trailer back and forth prior to approval, we used Yousendit, a digital content delivery service. The files are too large for regular email.