Tuesday, September 3, 2013

The Author Video, Or Me Trying Not to Be Awkward For Almost a Minute

Hey, I made an author video! If you'd like to skip right to it, you can view the video here.

Or, read on if you want to find out more about how and why I made it.

You might know I've had a book trailer for a long time, but my editor for the Indian version of Chained wanted something in addition to that to show her co-workers--something that gave more of a hint about the adventure in the story. Making a new trailer in a short time wouldn't be feasible, but an author video can be pretty quickly, and at no cost. Plus, I'd just had a great suggestion from a school librarian about having a "book talk" on my website that teachers and librarians can use to introduce the novel to readers. (Those librarians, they always know what's up). As I was making the video I realized that what I was saying seemed book-blurbish, so I've added the video to my website as a video book talk.

I'd already had a writing retreat planned at The Writing Barn, so I decided to record the video while I was there because the floor-to-ceiling bookshelves offered an awesomer background than anything in my house. (One book you'll see in the background is the upcoming Grandfather Gandhi, a gorgeous picture book biography by friend and Writing Barn owner Bethany Hegedus).

Like with the book trailer, I put the video together using iMovie, which is similar to Windows MovieMaker. Nothing fancy, just the software that comes with the computer. (If you'd like to read more about how I made the trailer, I go into more depth here).

I started off (after hair, makeup, and putting on actual clothes) by recording myself on the webcam reading the script I'd come up with. And since it didn't want the whole thing to be just me on camera, I incorporated some images from the book trailer. During those parts of the video, I recorded a voice-over to continue the narration of the script. The most challenging part of the whole process was getting the audio to transition smoothly from one clip to another, like when it switches from me to a picture. I set the fade in/fade out to zero for each clip, but it's still doing a smidge of fading here and there. (If you know some trick to fix that, I'd love to hear about it!)

Here's the version I sent to my agent first:

Joanna had advised me to keep it at under a minute, but I couldn't think of anything to cut. As always, she had some great editing advice, and after some rearranging, cutting, and adding a bit at the end, here's the final product:

I'll probably do more author videos in the future, like some less formal ones about how I write or some fun behind-the scenes stuff about my books. Blog posts take me a long time to write, but I could do an author video or vlog pretty quickly (after hair, makeup, actual clothes, etc.). Most won't have the fabulous background though. I really should've taken pictures of those bookshelves to make into posters so I could pretend they're in my own house.

Have you made your own author videos, or do you know someone who does them well? Share 'em in the comments!


  1. Great video, Lynn! I really like it. :)

    I used to work for the audio department at a tv broadcasting company, and while I'm definitely better at video than audio, here are some things I learned that could help with the frustrations you mentioned:

    - Your distance from the mic will make difference in the sound, and computer mics tend to be a bit hot when you start a new recording. If you record everything at once without moving closer to the computer or starting a new recording, everything will stay at the same level and it will be easier to blend things.

    - Room ambience is noisier than we think it is. Even if you are in a soundproof room, the mic still picks up room sound. So if you fade out to zero between voice over segments, you'll always hear a change when a new one starts. A quick and easy way to avoid that is to copy a section of the recording where you aren't saying anything and put it in between your VOs. I like to leave a good five seconds at the beginning or end of a recording so that I have plenty of blank room noise to work with without risking the "broken record" effect of looping just a small section of audio. Or, if you record the entire narration all at once, you can just snip out segments of blank audio, give it a nice cross fade, and voila! No more audio frustrations!

    Hope that helps!

    1. This is great, Jess! After a few tries I'd started leaving a couple seconds of silence before recording a voice-over and that helped with the fading since I could snip that part out, but I think I needed a little more.

      At first I recorded the whole thing at once while I was on webcam, but then I didn't see a way to continue the audio track during the times I inserted pictures.

      Thanks so much!

    2. You can ungroup/unlink the audio and the video tracks so that you can cut out segments of the video without also cutting out the audio. Each program is a little different, but I believe to do it in iMovie, you click on your Advanced Tab at the top by File, Edit, etc., and select "Extract Audio". Good luck!

    3. Well lookie there! Yes, that would've made things easier. I see that there's a "Detach audio" under the "Clip" tab.

      Thank you!

  2. I ADORE both trailers.
    {And you book, of course. Applause!!!}