July 25, 2011

Hook Up a Trailer and GO!

      I took a scenic route on my road to publication and watched a few book trailers to give my frayed mind a break. It inspired me to make one of my own. Lordy, what a long detour that turned out to be. I figured I could just whip one up like a batch of Sunday waffles at a roadside café, but creating a book trailer is no easy task for an amateur like me. Though I only hold a learner’s permit in this field, I’m imparting what I gleaned through trial and error, so it’ll be a little smoother for anyone embarking on this road.
            First, watch a slew of trailers. There's many on YouTube.  Note what you like: Style of script, dialogue, effects, transitions, music, etc. Next, jot down your dialogue; a visual book blurb so to say. The whole reason for a trailer is to pique interest. Rocking graphics, cool music and neat pictures are fantastic, but if you falter on the dialogue, no one will want to read the book.  Just like a blurb, you want to give just enough information about the story.
            If you don’t have a movie maker on your computer, there are free choices to download. Windows movie maker live is my favorite. I find it easy to use.
            Next, assure your pictures are royalty free. The best site I found is Dreamstime.com. Be sure to give them credit on your video. Where you choose to place a book cover is up to you. I usually place it in the first frame, then again at the end, before credits. Don't forget to supply purchasing links in the end credits.  
            I like the effect of dialogue on the picture, but everyone has their own style. Photo duration varies due to amount of dialogue—but I suggest 5 to 8 seconds per photo. Don’t put too much dialogue on a frame—you don’t want your reader rushing through it.
            After you have the pictures and dialogue in order, add background music.  Incomptec.com, a site by Kevin MacLeod, offers many styles and only asks you mention him in credits. He sorts choices by style, mood and tempo and downloads are free.
            Have a few trusted individuals view your finished product before posting it—the feedback is invaluable, as they will be able to tell you of any problems. My greatest flaw is time limits on the frame.  I know what it says, so I don't realize how long others need to read it. 
            There are defaults built in to most video makers—duration fades, and fitting the video time to music, so as a beginner, you may wish to use these. Spread a project over a week or so.  Why do I suggest this? Well, your other choice is to follow my initial path--the one I followed out of ignorance.  I basically chained myself to the computer for so long my butt went numb and my eyesight began to blur.  I finished my book trailer in a day, but with a price.    When I stood, I looked like a question mark, much to my family’s amusement. My three-minute video required at least ten hours of work, not the hour or two I thought it would take. 
            Book trailers are a great marketing tool. Posting on social networks, blogs and YouTube are just a few places to post.  I’ve created three book trailers, and learn more with each one. Hopefully, these hints encourage you to hook up a book trailer to your laptop and journey through your next writing journey—without the wrong turns. Working together to create something worth watching is what I hope to accomplish here—I’m just getting the film rolling. (pun intended)
            I’d love to hear from others on this subject. I'm SURE someone knows more about this than I do. Even one helpful hint helps a newbie. The old saying, ‘What goes around comes around’, holds true. Besides, it feels good to help a fellow writer.
All my best to each of you,
J.M. Powers

Author Note: Though I mention several sites, I’m in no way trying to “sell” you on them. I’m merely sharing ones I found useful.


  1. Making a book trailer is a HUGE learning curve. I found that out when I made mine for Ruby Red Metallic.

    I think I spent as much time playing with Movie Maker, making funny stuff, just to see how all the equipment worked.

    Making a book trailer is a huge undertaking, but well worth it.

    Great post! You have a lot of helpful advice on here.

  2. Playing around is the easiest way to learn, Casey. Thanks for the feedback!

  3. I haven't done one yet.

    There are some really fun book trailers out there. The most hilarious one I've seen is one Tessa Dare did for Maya Banks new Highland series. Check it out.