Behind the Book Trailer for ‘The Flame Alphabet’

By Jason Boog Comment

That’s the spooky book video for Ben Marcus‘ new book, The Flame Alphabet. Artist and author Erin Cosgrove created the video, offering this important advice for aspiring book trailer makers: “do it out of enthusiasm, terror and fun, and not as a job.”

This collaboration should inspire more writers, as 99 percent of book trailers could use some help from a professional artist. Cosgrove shared some book trailer advice in a GalleyCat interview–you can read her thoughts below.

Here’s more about Cosgrove’s career: “Cosgrove is an artist and writer who uses video, animation, books, painting, scrolls, timelines, installation, and performance in her artwork … Her art novel, The Baader-Meinhof Affair, was published by Printed Matter, NY, in 2003.”

Book Video Advice from Artist Erin Cosgrove

“Ben Marcus and I met at a Creative Capital retreat. I knew his work and didn’t mind telling him that I was a fan. His writing is strange and intense and brilliant- so when he later asked me to collaborate on a book trailer I jumped at the idea.

“After reading the book my thoughts were in a thousand different places. I’m a visual artist and my work process tends to be slow and labor intensive and I usually cycle through bad ideas before I hit upon something good. Ben shortened the process greatly by suggesting we simply introduce the plot and some scenes of the book. This made a lot of sense as a trailer has to be short, but still capture some of the essence of the book.

“I found a lovely passage towards the beginning of the book that is a good introduction to the drama and then we chose some scenes that would give you a whiff of what you’re in for when you read The Flame Alphabet. So if it comes off as weird and creepy, I hope that’s a reflection of the imagery Ben created with his words.

“Being a neophyte to the book trailer medium I don’t imagine that my advice for authors or filmmakers would be worth much, but for any artistic endeavor it seems important to do it out of enthusiasm, terror and fun, and not as a job. I love Ben’s work so the enthusiasm was already there. The terror in this case comes from being really worried that trailer somehow wouldn’t live up to the book.

“Turns out we were both harboring guilt pains over the collaboration- guilt being one of the Catholic/Jewish Venn diagram overlaps. Some of the scenes were great fun to animate- like the inflatable rabbis and the “Jew Hole,” which sounds a bit dirty saying it off the cuff like that.”