DIY: Step-by-Step Guide to Making a Book Trailer

What is a Book Trailer?

A book trailer is a brief video used to market a book. Like a trailer for a motion picture, book trailers can make your title stand out among the masses.

Many professionals will produce trailers for a hefty fee, but why not do it yourself?

Four Simple Tools

  1. Computer: The first thing you need is a PC or MAC with decent operating speed. We used a PC with Windows 7.  Older versions of Windows may be slow to process video data.
  2. Camera: Recording in high definition (HD) is not necessary for posting on websites like Youtube.  We used a digital SLR camera (Canon EOS Rebel T2i), but we did not film in HD.  Instead, we used 640 x 480 pixels which created a much more manageable file size. (TIP: Make sure your software will open your video file type before you shoot the trailer.)
  3. Tripod: This is a must. Use a tripod. Always.
  4. Microphones: If you plan to include external sounds/voices, use microphones.

Five Steps and You’re Done!

  1. Setting: Choose locations based on your book’s theme. Obtain permission to film on anyone else’s property, and do not show anyone in the film without their permission (this includes folks in the background).
  2. Shooting: Shoot short segments and paste them together using a video software package.  We used Windows Live Movie Maker which was easy to use and comes with Windows 7.
  3. Editing: Transfer all the video segments into a single folder on your computer.  Decide on the order of the videos in advance (ex: save as Trailer1, Trailer2, etc.). Begin inserting them into the software and trim as needed.  You can use the audio from the original film segments or block it out completely and use a separate audio file. 
  4. Adding Music: While some royalty-free music is available online (http://www.istockphoto.com/audio), my teen daughter composed the music for our trailer. She performed it on our piano, and we recorded it using Microsoft Sound Recorder on our laptop (which is equipped with a built-in microphone). This program is on all Windows computers.
  5. Polishing: Your publisher may be willing to add a little polish and a company logo.  If so, the best way to share video file access with another editor is to use Dropbox.

Share the Love

Finally, save the file to a common format (MPEG-4 or AVI) or upload directly to YouTube from your software. From YouTube, I embedded my trailer on my website, added it to my author profiles on sites like Barnes & Noble and Goodreads, and shared it with friends through my blogsite. To post on Amazon, SheWrites and others, you need a direct file (not the YouTube upload). Many authors include a link to the trailer in their press kit, and some even distribute DVDs to local booksellers.

Have fun, and come back to share your trailer with us here at the Cooler!

14 Replies to “DIY: Step-by-Step Guide to Making a Book Trailer”

    1. Thanks, Katie. It was a family project and we had a lot of fun. Our first attempt at “film making” and now I’ve got a bug to do more! Y’all should make a documentary about the adoption journey. I’d love to see that!

  1. Julie, you captured the essence of your book by making the trailer yourself rather than having an agency do it. For those of us who are more technically challenged and don’t have a talented daughter to compose the music, Animoto also is a great place to put together a short trailer for free. One of the best movie trailer makers I know though is Marian Miller, who has done trailers for Sandra Bricker and Loree Lough. Breathtaking!

    1. Hi Barbara, Thanks so much for sharing those tips! That’s very, very helpful, and I agree…Marian Miller’s trailers are beautiful! I appreciate you chiming in. Cheers, j

    1. That’s very sweet, Michelle. I’m a techno-impaired gal who has been tempted on more than one occasion to launch my computer through the window, so I assure you…if I can do it, anybody can. Happy Thursday! j

    1. Hi Peter, Thanks…a great question, and it’s certainly one that has no clear answer yet. Some recent studies suggest that yes…it’s a beneficial marketing tool. However, publishers seem reluctant to put the bank behind the banter. So…my personal opinion is…if it’s going to cost you a pretty penny, it might not pay off in return. But…if you can produce your own trailer for little or no cost, then why not try it? Plus – it’s FUN! Thanks for joining the conversation. Cheers, j

  2. Thanks for the great tips, Julie! I know I’m going to want to refer back to this post in the future!

    I also liked the quiet simplicity of your “Into the Free” trailer. It’s a great example of how to make an evocative statement. Well done!

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