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Making a video about your book

September 21st, 2010

Charles King and publisher W. W. Norton created a wonderful video that brings us into the world of his new book.  Here is what he writes about it:


I had never heard of a “book trailer” until a few months ago, when my agent mentioned I should think about doing one for ODESSA. I went on YouTube and looked up some examples. Most of what I found were videos from the young adult fiction world– lots of unrequited vampire love. But I found a few really great videos by serious writers and historians–Dan Philbrick and Simon Montefiore, for example, not to mention a hilarious one by Gary Shteyngart–and I thought I could probably manage to do something similar.

It was pretty easy. I had all the images from the book already in hand. I put those into a PowerPoint and roughed out the sequencing and timing. (PowerPoint allows you to add a “Ken Burns” effect, so that you can pan and scan across still images–a great way of bringing photos to life.) I wrote a script and selected some music from the public domain and from a very nice klezmer band that allowed me to use one of their recordings. Finally, I got some great help from CNDLS at Georgetown (thanks to Daryl Nardick, Danny Gonzalez, and Ryan Walter) in reworking my rough-cut PowerPoint as a .mov file that could be uploaded to YouTube.

I wanted this to be informative and engaging, but I also wanted it to be about the book rather than about the author — to represent, in an accessible way, the fruits of serious archival research, which is the basis for the new book. It was also part of a “professionalization” of my web presence…I’ve now got the video on my new website at www.charles-king.net.

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