Carlson's "Book Trailer" Leads To Two-Book Deal In Eastern Europe

Just ahead of the publication of his second novel, sci fi thriller Plague War, author Jeff Carlson and two friends released a “book trailer” entitled 4 Minutes Above 10,000 Feet. Shot in the Sierra mountains, this short film can only be described as Alive meets The Blair Witch Project meets the new Andromeda Strain.

With moderately high production values and starring Carlson himself alternating between roles as the narrator and a survivor caught in his own books, the trailer quickly garnered attention at genre and mainstream web sites such as boingboing, GalleyCat, and, as well as popular blogs such as those of Joseph Mallozi (television’s Stargate: Atlantis) and top literary agent Nathan Bransford.

“This trailer is really exceptional,” remarked bestselling author Kevin J. Anderson. “I can just see many publishers convincing themselves that something like this would cost $100,000 or more. It’s great work, and I’ll bet [Carlson’s publisher] is dazzled… and confused! They must be thinking ‘Wow, how did he do that!?’”

Among other spectacular visuals and action sequences, the four-minute trailer features computer generated imagery of a smoking space shuttle roaring over Carlson’s head as he stands on a desolate mountaintop, having just escaped the microscopic nanotechnology featured in his novels Plague Year and its new sequel, Plague War, published by Ace/Penguin in North America.

According to Carlson, however, “The most unusual part about our short film must be that my total out-of-pocket costs were less than four hundred dollars, nearly all of which went to my web guy to convert the original file and build a Flash player for it on my site, which, in retrospect, was unnecessary. The YouTube version looks surprisingly sharp, especially if you click on the ‘Watch In High Quality’ tab.

“Next time I'll skip the fancy Flash player and go YouTube all the way, with the original QuickTime file also available on my site for the purists.”

A native of the San Francisco Bay Area, Carlson added, ”It cost me a tank of gas to drive to the Sierras and back, and Adad and Chuck were paid in sandwiches, Pepsi, and chips, plus we had to license two songs for the soundtrack. That was it. Of course, I’m fortunate that the real mastermind, Adad Warda, is a childhood friend of my wife's, a film student turned pro who was delighted just to tackle the challenge of it.”

A high definition version of the short film can be found on Carlson’s web site at It is also readily accessible on YouTube at

Carlson was asked if there will be another such trailer?

“Absolutely,” he said. “It was a lot of fun to act out parts of the book, and we’re already scripting our follow-up for next summer.”

As a marketing device, the short film seems to be working. In its various formats, 4 Minutes Above 10,000 Feet has received more than 20,000 views in two months. Carlson has also been interviewed about his novels and the making of the trailer by radio stations as far from home as Florida and, much farther, New Zealand. Perhaps more impressive, within three days of the trailer’s release, Carlson’s agents were contacted by a senior editor with Millennium Press in eastern Europe who had seen the trailer. Negotiations on a two-book deal were finalized this week for translation into Romanian.

Plague Year and Plague War have already sold in Spain, where “La Plaga” is currently the lead hardcover from Minotauro, backed a massive promotion campaign, including newspaper ads, radio clips, and gas masks and yellow biohazard warning tape on floor stands and in book store window displays. Minotauro is also distributing the book in Columbia and Peru, and plans further releases across South America.

In Germany, the entire trilogy went to Piper Verlag in best bid auction for a “significant” deal in high five figures.

Plague Year is also available on CD from Recorded Books, as narrated by stage actor Richard Ferrone. Film rights for the novel were optioned last week by award-winning producer James McNally of Seven Seas Jim.

Readers can find free excerpts of both Plague Year and Plague War at Carlson’s web site at along with tour dates, blog, videos and more, including a mind-croggling sci fi trivia contest in which winners will be allowed to name a character after themselves or a friend in one of Carlson’s upcoming novels.

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