MEET OUR JUDGES
I’m the author of middle grade novels Chicken Stu and Bad Grammar, with a brand spanking new junior fiction series coming in 2021. While I am an author of books, I guess I would describe myself more as a storyteller because I have also written a few plays for young audiences and I’ve made or been involved in quite a few short films and some television work. I love storytelling across multiple mediums.
A dream job I once had was with the Wakakirri National Story Festival, where students were able to create and share stories through dance, song, plays, films, short stories and storyboards. Viewing the thousands of stories entered each year was a real treat.
Because of how much I love both books and films, Book Trailers are the perfect collision point between the two and I’m super excited to be associated with this new competition. I like the idea not only of students making their own trailers but also being able to see the trailers made by other students.
When not writing, I’m a primary school teacher specialising in the performing arts. One of my favourite things to do in schools is to make films, though I do have to remind myself that I’m not allowed to do all the writing, acting, directing and editing myself. Unfortunately, I have to share the roles with the students.
As a judge, what I’m looking for is ultimately to be entertained. For it to be a completely successful book trailer, however, after watching it I should want to go and pick the book up immediately and start reading. Intrigue me!
There are so many great book trailers out there and different styles. Some use live action, some use animation, some use still images with voice over. There is no wrong or right way to do it. I really do love fellow judge Tristan Banck’s trailers because they are super fun.Another one I saw recently that I loved was the book trailer for Leviathan by Scott Westerfield. It’s great because it sets up the world of the book really well – I get an excellent sense of where the book is set and what genre of book it is. It also has great music and best of all it leaves you with an unresolved question, making you want to read the book and find out more. Do you oil your war machines, or do you feed them?
A bit about Deborah Abela
I’ve always been short and a bit of a coward, which is probably why I write books about spies, soccer legends, space, WW2 and kids living in flooded cities with sea monsters and flying machines. I wanted to be an explorer when I was young, which isn’t good when you’re incredibly clumsy, but after I left university, I went to Africa, determined to go exploring, which I did, but I was also harassed by monkeys, got caught in a desert sandstorm and was thrown in jail…twice!
After that I decided I’d like to become an author and write about adventurous kids who were brave and feisty and sometimes a little clumsy like me. I’ve written 27 books so far, including my cranky climate change trilogy, Grimsdon, New City and Final Storm, and Teresa A New Australian, which was inspired by my dad who was born in a cave during bombing raids of WW2.
I also wrote The Stupendously Spectacular Spelling Bee and The Most Marvellous Spelling Bee Mystery because of my grade 4 teacher, Miss Gray, who made me love words. My latest book is Bear in Space about a Bear who is different and loves space. When he builds a rocket and flies into space, something extraordinary happens.
I’ve won awards for my books but I mostly hope to be as brave as my characters.
When you create book trailers, your main aim is to make someone desperate to read that book. You want to include some main plot points but don’t give away any secrets or the ending. Maybe mention the characters and something you found intriguing about the story. Ask questions that your reader can’t wait to have answered. Add visuals and music that really bring the story to life – but make sure you have the right to use that music. You can search for royalty free music on the Internet. You’ll find a lot.
When I watch a book trailer, I want to be intrigued. I want to know just enough about the book to entice me to read it and I want to know something about the story and characters that pull me in but I definitely do not want any spoilers.
So that’s what I’ll be looking for when I’m judging: Have you made me want to read this book?
My clever partner Todd makes all of my trailers, so I am a big fan of his work, but I think my favourite is the Final Storm trailer, for the last book in the Grimsdon trilogy. It’s action packed, exciting and hints at the main trouble in the story. To be honest, I like all the trailers for that series.
So have lots of fun thinking of ways to make me want to read the book in your trailer. I can’t wait to watch them all and add to my ever growing pile of books beside my bed. Enjoy!
The collision point between books and motion pictures is exciting to me. Since my first book, Mac Slater Coolhunter, was released in 2008 I have been creating trailers and using them in school talks and online to get kids, teens and adults excited about reading. Video is one of the most powerful tools we have for bringing books to life.
A book trailer is like a movie trailer, but for a book. The aim of the video is to make others want to read the book. Good trailers suggest and tease the tone and content of the book without giving too much away. The best book trailers are simple. An expensive, cinematic trailer can often suggest that it’s a trailer for a film, while a simple trailer can feel more akin to the reading experience, leaving much to the imagination.
Before you do anything, watching lots of other video book trailers is useful, working out what works and what doesn’t. Think about how each trailer was made. What did they need in order to make that trailer? A camera or did they find still pictures?
Book trailers need a strong idea. They need to capture the tone of the story. The most basic rule in storytelling is ‘show, don’t tell’. The trailer may not have any words but it should convey the feeling and idea of the book. Don’t try to tell the viewer everything that happens. Leave some things unsaid. Tease the viewer with any mystery elements in the book.
I always recommend writing a script for a trailer. It can be rough at first. Take 10 to 15 minutes to freewrite your ideas on the book and how it might be brought to life with video.
While writing the script, pre-visualising the trailer can be useful, gathering images, video and music that spark ideas.
The greatest challenge of the video book trailer is that there is no existing footage. If you are shooting a trailer rather than using existing stills, think about sound and lighting.
Most of all, have fun creating a video about a story that you love. Book trailers are a simple movie-making exercise and an enjoyable way to think about, adapt and share books with others.
MY TOP FIVE TIPS FOR MAKING A BOOK TRAILER
1. Choose a book you’ve written or one that you really love. Your trailer is a tool to get other people excited to pick up a book.
2. Write a 30-second to one-minute trailer script. Two minutes max! Remember: Short is good. Long is bad.
3. Pre-visualise your trailer, gathering images, music and other videos for ideas. Try using Story Scrapbook, my free transmedia story brainstorming tool.
4. Shoot and edit. Or, if you’re using still pictures, gather your images and music and edit. (Make sure you own the copyright to the images or search for Creative Commons or royalty-free images and music.)