Friday, March 29, 2019

How to Make a Picture Book Trailer: NOAH NOASAURUS

My critique and Kidlit411 partner Elaine Kiely Kearns's picture book, NOAH NOASAURUS, illustrated by Colin Jack (Albert Whitman) debuts on April 1. As part of the marketing effort, I made her book trailer using software that comes pre-installed on any Mac.

This is the trailer that we made:

For those of you who are enterprising and don't mind putting in a bit of time, you too can make your own picture book trailer using iMovie and Keynote (the Apple version of Powerpoint). You'll also need some familiarity with Photoshop or your illustrator's help. Briefly, this is the process:

How to Make a Book Trailer using Apple Software & Photoshop 

1. Write a script. Elaine wrote the script for the trailer after studying a bunch of other trailers and figuring out what works. She sent me the text and suggested accompanying images. Her script was so awesome that I didn't change a thing.

2. Compile a rough trailer in iMovie.
  • Import still images from the book (get permission from your publisher) and play around with the text/font options in iMovie to lay out your basic video. Aim to keep each image up for 3.5 to 4 seconds and the overall trailer to run under 1 minute. 
  • Decide which images you want to animate (you'll do that in Keynote). For all the rest, play with the iMovie camera panning options like the Ken Burns effect to make the still images feel dynamic.
  • For audio, either record a voice-over (get a friend, child, or yourself to voice the text) or find copyright free music and lay down a track. YouTube has an audio library of free downloadable music and other services provide copyright free music for free or for a subscription fee (Google "copyright free music")
  • Note: You don't need to have animated elements. You could make your whole trailer in iMovie.
3) Animate sequences in Keynote 

Keynote is Apple's version of Powerpoint that comes installed in Macs. For the images you want to animate, do the following:
  • In Photoshop, separate the foreground characters from the background, or ask your illustrator to provide them in separate files. The characters should be saved with a transparent background in a png file. Fill in the background in the areas where you've cut out the character.
  • In Keynote, create a new slideshow. On a blank slide, insert the background image and the character image you want to animate. Click on the character image and select "Animate." Play with the different ways the element can move (fly into the screen, jiggle, bounce, move, etc.) and play with the timing. When you are happy, export the file as a movie. It should be a clip about 4-7 seconds long.
  • Import the movie clip into iMovie, replacing the still image with the animated sequence. Trim the movie clip to about 4 seconds (trim it in iMovie or play with the timing in Keynote before exporting it). 
  • Repeat for all animated sequences.
4) Enjoy the trailer.

That's it.

I learned how to make a trailer when my book, A MORNING WITH GRANDPA, illustrated by Christina Forshay (Lee & Low Books 2016) came out.

At the time, Christina learned how to animate in Keynote and we worked together to create our trailer. We used a slightly more complicated way to animate (importing just the animated character sequence into iMovie while using the still image in iMovie as the background). This was our trailer:


Let me know if you have any questions. If you're handy with Photoshop, iMovie, and Keynote, it's gratifying to make your own book trailer.

Don't forget to buy Elaine's book at Indiebound, AmazonBarnes & Noble, or
Book Depository (free worldwide shipping)!

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Happy New Year 2019 - Plus Agent News!

© Sylvia Liu

Last year, my New Year's resolutions were to (1) declutter and simplify my house (getting ahead of the Marie Kondo curve, at least in intentions) and (2) focus on writing, specifically finishing and querying my MG novel.

I totally failed in the first but completed the second. I am now represented by Jennifer March Soloway of the Andrea Brown Literary Agency, a dream come true! I am so thrilled and honored that she is my agent.

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

2018 Roundup: Cheers to My Creative Community

© Sylvia Liu

2018 was another great year for my creative communities. I'm always blown away by how generous my writing friends are. Here are some of the awesome people I've connected with on my writing journey this year (and some of their super cool books coming out in 2019!):

1. MY PICTURE BOOK CRITIQUE GROUP, with 3 picture books coming out in 2019

Going on our sixth year, my picture book critique group, the Penguin Posse, started out as a group of unpublished and un-agented authors. By the end of next year, almost all of us will have agents or books out. I'm so psyched for these 2019 releases:

Friday, July 20, 2018

My Adventure into MG Sci Fi: The Making of an Illustration

© Kathryn Ault Noble
This amazing image is created by Kathryn Ault Noble and represents a scene from my middle grade manuscript. I love it so much and want to share the story of its creation. This post is Part 1, about my end of the process. In the future, I'll post an interview with Kathryn for more insight on her creative process.

Monday, January 29, 2018

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Happy New Year 2018: A Giveaway and Some Goals

© Sylvia Liu

Happy New Year 2018!  What are your creative goals this year? Mine are

1. DECLUTTER AND SIMPLIFY my house so that I can

Friday, October 20, 2017

Read Local Challenge Party

Earlier this week I participated in a Read Local Challenge Party, at the Point O'View Elementary School in Virginia Beach, VA. This is an effort organized by the SCBWI MD/DE/WV chapter to encourage students to read kid lit authors from MD, DE, WV, DC, and VA.