Making a Book Trailer: It’s All in the Details

make a book trailer

Today, I’d like to give you a behind-the-scenes look on the making of the book trailer for the murder mystery Death in Disguise by Karen Neary Smithson.

A Little Background on the Story:

Lexi is a nineteen year old nanny who was murdered by a mysterious killer. Lexi’s diary falls into the hands of the main character, Beth Getty, who reads the dead nanny’s journal in an effort to discover who may have killed her. The novel doesn’t actually contain diary entries, but the reader rather interprets the contents of the diary through Beth’s thoughts.

The Book Trailer Script:

This is the portion of the book trailer script I am focusing on today, the part where the visualization of the diary is needed:

“By a twist of fate, her diary came into my possession. Its pages have begun to unravel terrible secrets: secrets someone might kill to protect.”

Potential Visuals for the Book Trailer:

For this part of the book trailer, I had several options:

  1. I could have shown pages flipping: text blurred with motion so the diary’s contents couldn’t be read.
  2. Or another route could have been using stock video of a woman reminiscent of Beth Getty reading a book that could have passed for a diary.
  3. Or an over the shoulder shot of a faceless woman writing something by hand meant to represent Lexi writing a diary entry, again obscured.
  4. I even considered loose leaf pages simply falling isolated on a black background.

All of these could have worked for the book trailer… but there’s just one thing that didn’t sit right with me creatively:

When searching for clues, readers don’t want to see things from a distance. We want to be Sherlock Holmes and break out our magnifying glasses! We want to get in close. I saw an opportunity to really make that happen. My idea was: if a potential reader is interested enough to pause the video and try to actually read the diary, let’s reward them with special content created just for them!

“We want to be Sherlock Holmes and break out our magnifying glasses!”

– ElectraFox on the Importance of Detail in Book Trailers

I wrote to the author of this amazing novel – Karen Neary Smithson – and asked her if she’d be willing to write two diary entries from the point of view of Lexi for the visualization of the diary. I was so excited about the possibility of custom content for the book trailer written by the actual author that after I clicked “send” on the email, in my head I was saying Please let her say yes, Please let her say yes!

SHE SAID YES!!!!!!!!! And the entries are absolutely PERFECT!!!!

Official Book Trailer for Death in Disguise by Karen Neary Smithson

March 3,

Well, I finally did it—got up the courage—and told Mike it’s over between us. I was scared. His temper has been out of control lately that I didn’t know what to expect. But instead of blowing up he went quiet. Real quiet. Calm-like. Then I got really scared because you know what they say about the calm before the storm. He kinda hung his head and balled his hands a couple of times. I thought of racing back to the house realizing it was really stupid of me to tell him on the beach. But then he raised his head and looked right at me. I saw that his eyes were wet. Oh God, I never would’ve expected that. He grabbed my hand. I froze. I couldn’t believe it. A macho guy like Mike Alder had tears streaming down his face just because I dumped him!?! It just about melted my heart. But if he thought a few tears would make me change my mind—it didn’t. His words sounded so sincere—he loves me—he’ll  change—he’ll do anything to get me back. But even if he was being honest, his words had no effect. Mainly because of PC. He’d texted me. Wants me to come to his house tonight. Said we have to talk about something important. Now, I don’t want to jump to conclusions but . . . maybe he’s told her about us . . . I just can’t wait to find out. 

March 12,

Who would think that a seven year old girl could wear you out. Especially on a rainy day! Right after breakfast, Emma announced to Alma and me that she wanted to make cookies. Chocolate chip cookies. Alma started pulling out the ingredients and that’s when we realized we didn’t have the most important one—the chocolate chips. Alma of course was almost out the door headed for the market when Emma asked if we could get them by way of the farm. She wanted to see her pony. Off we went. When we arrived at the stables the rain had stopped so, of course, she wanted to ride her little filly. The next thing I know we’re trampling across the soggy and muddy ground. I’m not complaining since it was fun but before we got back to the stable it started to pour! After grooming the horses and trying our best to dry off, we headed to the market. I smiled to myself as I went drove to the drive-thru at the MacDonald’s—enjoying every minute of breaking her mother’s strict rule against junk food—and Emma loved her burger and fries. Back at the Greyson mansion, I got Emma into warm, dry clothes and headed for the kitchen. But not Emma. “It’s time to feed “le mie bellezze” she said heading for the back staircase. So, after an hour of inspecting the snakes and insects, we finally made it to the kitchen. Right when we were putting the first tray of cookie dough into the oven, Miss Andrews—the witch—came barging in furious that Emma was doing menial work. Emma went quiet. All the happiness drained from her face when her mother ordered her upstairs for a bath. Anyway, Miss A. had set up a ‘play date’ for Emma with a boy, Harry, from her pony club. So, off we went to an indoor playground. The kids had a ball climbing, jumping, and sliding for hours. After dinner and a couple of cookies I got Emma into bed, told her a bedtime story, and with the excitement of the day slowly draining away she drifted off. Now, it’s time for me to hit the books. I’ve got an American history exam Monday!   

Time, Effort, & The Fine Print

The diary appears onscreen for roughly 7 seconds of the book trailer. The binding is described in the novel as hand-tooled burgundy leather with an intricate floral design; so, I researched various cover designs of leather bound journals and came up with this:

The Outside of Lexi’s Journal in the Death and Disguise Book Trailer

How would the character Lexi sign her name? I wondered, would she sign “Love, Lexi”? Would she just sign “Lexi” or not sign at all? Or would she draw a little heart before her name?

Whenever questions like this pop up in my mind, I find it best to consult with author – the authority on the text! The answer to my question was the latter: a little heart before her name! The perfect choice.

I’m so thrilled to have had the opportunity to work with Karen Neary Smithson to visualize her incredible novel in book trailer format. It was such a fulfilling and rewarding experience for me.

I hope you enjoyed this glimpse behind-the-scenes of the making of the book trailer for Death in Disguise! You can purchase the book by clicking the button below:


Death in Disguise
Karen Neary Smithson’s Official Website
Karen Neary Smithson on Twitter

Death in Disguise Synopsis:

Death in Disguise Book Cover

Teenage girls are being murdered in Los Angeles. Four in one week. The latest victim isn’t like the others—not a runaway or prostitute—but a nanny working for a celebrity couple. And this has Sibeal “Beth” Getty, perplexed. Beth, an Irish born fashion model gifted with an uncanny sixth sense, was acquainted with the nanny and knew of her aspirations to become an actress. The veiled motive for the deaths haunt Beth and after reading the nanny’s stolen diary, she is hell-bent on unraveling the mystery surrounding the slain teens. But she doesn’t know the first thing about conducting a murder investigation, that’s her detective husband’s line. With a healthy dose of determination and her intuition on high gear, Beth forges onward. She begins to link unconnected details and stumbles into a tangled web of deception that makes clear, nothing is as it seems. Help comes from an unexpected source when Beth’s self-centered, actress friend offers a lead and a hand in solving the crime. As Beth inches closer to detecting the murderer’s true identity will she be the next victim on the killer’s list?