Alright, everybody, it’s time for Part 2 on creating teasers. In case you missed Part 1, you can find it here. In Part 1, we covered the image of a teaser. In Part 2, we’re going to cover the textual aspects of a teaser: the excerpt, the title, and the author’s name. Again, in demonstrating, I will be using examples from my upcoming anthology, “Reaper.”
Element #2: An excerpt
The excerpt is arguably the most important part of your teaser, because along with the image, it’s what teases the audience. It’s a tiny little snippet of your work, just a little taste of what they can expect. That being said, you want to make sure your excerpt is really strong. It needs to be compelling, it needs to draw the reader in, it needs to make them want more. You don’t want to pick just any sentence or paragraph from your work; you want to choose something that leaves the reader hanging.
For example, the excerpt that immediately comes to mind from “The Wizard of Oz,” is the famous “Toto, I have a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore.” Or from “A Song of Fire and Ice” (Game of Thrones), the obvious choice is “Winter is coming.” If you were doing one for any of the Harry Potter books, you could go with “The Boy Who Lived.” All of these create questions for the readers; they generate interest and curiosity. So make sure when choosing an excerpt for your teaser, you do the same.
Now, if like me, you’re currently working on an anthology, rather than a novel, you have a couple of options. You can create teasers for individual stories, or you can market the anthology as a whole. I have done both in the past. Here are a couple examples of teasers for individual stories:
In these, I used lines from the actual story (or in the case of “Baby Grand,” a bit of a synopsis). All three of these stories were included in my first published anthology, entitled “Breaking Out” (currently available on Amazon). I also did a teaser for the anthology as a whole:
In this case, I used a line from the the anthology’s synopsis, “Embrace what makes you human.” I’m doing the same currently for “Reaper,” using the line “Death comes for us all.”
So let’s look at how to get the text on our image in Word. You’ve got your image set. You’ve found the right image, played with color and artistic effects, and now you’re ready to add text. You want to start by going up to Insert on the tool bar and clicking on Text Box, then choose “Simple Text Box.” Something similar to this should pop up:
You’ll notice at the top you now see a tool bar named “Drawing Tools/Format.” We’ll get to that in a minute.
First of all, try and adjust the size of the box. It doesn’t matter how, you’re not going to keep it ultimately, but by adjusting the size, you’ll cause the small box with the arch and lines to show up, just as it did for the image. Make sure to click on that, then choose the option “In front of text.” This is important because once you’re created a text box, you’re actually controlling two things: the box and the text. To adjust the placement of the text on the image, you will actually move the box, and in order to do that effectively, you want the “in front of text” option chosen. This will allow options such as placing the text on the very edge of the image, letting the text overlap the image and the white above, etc. Once you’ve done that, go ahead and type the words you want in the box, then play around with size, font, and color. This can be done by going back to the Home tool bar. Once you have your text typed and formatted, you can play around with moving it on your image. You should end up with something like this:
Obviously, you don’t want that huge chunk of white showing up in your image. So now, you want to click on the Drawing Tools/Format toolbar at the top. Towards the middle of the toolbar is an option that says “Shape Fill” and has a little paint can being poured next to it. Click that, then when the box of colors shows up, toward the bottom is the choice “No Fill.” Click that. Just below “Shape Fill,” there should also be an option that says “Shape Outline.” Click that, and again choose “No Outline.” Now, if you have an image like mine, where you’re placing text on a black background and the text is initially black, your text will disappear, like this:
Don’t freak out. Your text is still there. It just happens to be the same color as your background. Go up to the box, start at the edge, and highlight your text, then go back to the home menu and change the color of your text.
Now, if your background isn’t black, you’ll still be able to see your text throughout this step. Either way, you may decide you want to change the color of your text. Whatever color you choose, watch how it plays against your background. You don’t want to lose your text in the background; you want it to pop.
To help with the popping, there are a bunch more drawing effects you can use to spice up your text. Go back to the Drawing Tools toolbar (you’ll need to make sure you are clicked back on the text box–even though you may not be able to see it at this point, it’s still actually there). Highlight your text. Then, in the toolbar, you should see a small column of capital A’s. There should be a blackish-grey A with a black bar beneath, a white A with a black outline with a black bar beneath, and a white A with a hazy blue outline with no bar beneath. These are how you’re going to manipulate your text. The first option lets you change the color of your actual text. The second allows you to add an outline to your text, and you can play with color. For example, you might come up with something like this:
Play with colors, play with outlines. Outlines are great for some fonts, not so hot with others. See how things work for you. Most of all, you want to make sure whatever you do looks clean, concise, and cohesive. You want everything to look like it goes together.
The last A option (the white with hazy blue) lets you add different effects to your text (like the Artistic effects to your image). You can add shadow, reflection, glow, bevel, 3-D rotation, and transform. Adding shadow does just that–it makes your text look like it’s casting a shadow. In my example, I can’t demonstrate this well, because the shadow will disappear into the black background. However, if you’ve got an image with a definite light source, consider using the shadow option to add more realism to your image.
Reflection lets you add–duh–reflection. This is a great effect for any image where you might be placing text on water, or if there’s a mirror, etc. Just to show what it looks like, here you go:
There are different levels of reflection, so again, feel free to play around with it. The glow option is similar to an outline, but allows you to add a bit more pop of color.
You can see here the red text, the white outline, and now a red glow around the text.
Bevel adds dimension to your text, and again, depending on the font you use, can be a difficult option to use effectively. Don’t shy away from it, though. Try it out, see what cool effects you come up with.
The 3-D rotation lets you change the direction of your text.
And transformation lets you do all kinds of crazy text loopdy-loops, curves, and such.
There’s also an option called “Word Art” that lets you do some cool things with text, but I find it a bit restrictive except in certain situations, so don’t tend to use it very much. If you’d like to play with it a bit, give it a try, see how you like it. Or if you have questions regarding how to use it, feel free to message me and I’ll walk you through it. But I’m not going to go into it here. (This post is already long enough, lol.) So with all those options, here’s my final excerpt for “Reaper:”
Element #3: Title
While the excerpt is what you want your reader to get hooked on, the title is what you want them to remember. So it goes without saying that the title should be the boldest part of the teaser. It should be big, bright, clear, and (while this should seem obvious) readable. Don’t give up the legibility of your teaser for the sake of a cool font. If a person can’t read it, they’re not going to remember it.
Using the same tools as we went through above for the excerpt, play around and get your title set.
Element #4: Author’s Name
A title doesn’t do a reader any good unless they know who’s written it. So in the same vein, you want your name to be visible and legible. It shouldn’t be quite as big as the title, but don’t shirk it, either. For a long while the idea was that the title should be huge, and the author’s name should be fairly small and unobtrusive. I call B.S. Give yourself credit. You’ve written this thing, you have every right to let people know. So no, you don’t want the author name to be bigger than the title; let the title shine. But generally, the author name should be the next biggest text on the page. (So ignore the fact that in this particular example, my excerpt is larger than my name–that happened due to one of the effects I used on the excerpt.)
So here’s my final product:
A few other notes regarding fonts:
- Fonts are like images. They are the property of the creator. So feel free to download as many fonts from free sites as you like–they’re everywhere–but make sure to check whether or not they’ve been cleared for commercial use. If they are for personal use only, make sure to click the file that comes with the font download–it usually says something like READ ME and check what the creator has said about commercial use. Some okay it for marketing things such as teasers. Some ask for a general attribution. Some forbid it without direct permission. So just do your homework, and give other artists the same respect you expect to be shown. You all deserve it.
- If you are making teasers for a novel, and you have created the cover, or you have access to the cover your cover artist has made for you, make sure you use the same fonts in your teasers as are used in your cover. This creates continuity, consistency, and helps develop your novel’s brand. It’s like seeing the Nike symbol, or a Campbell’s soup can. When you see the Nike check mark, you know the product is for Nike, even if there isn’t any text for you to read. When you grab a can of Campbell’s, it’s impossible to miss the red can and the delicate white cursive. That helps ensure the customer is getting what they want, not a knock-off. It’s the same with your books. Use the same fonts so that each time someone sees a different teaser, they recognize them, and when the book finally hits the shelves, they recognize the font on the cover and go, “Oh, yeah, I saw teasers for that. I want it!” If you have a cover artist doing your cover, you should be able to get the font from them. Just hit them up and ask.
If you have any questions, feel free to hit me up and I will do what I can to answer them. Have fun, and good luck teasing your readers!