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!

How to Effectively Use Twitter for Authors

We all know that as successful authors we’re expected to market ourselves and this includes social media sites. Most find Facebook easy to use, but I’ve seen several authors confused or disheartened by Twitter.

I used to be one of them. For basic Twitter use, including #hashtags and follow back explanations, check out 8 Twitter Tips for Authors at the Blogging Bistro’s site. (She’s got great content, search through her archives & consider signing up for her daily tips.)

1. Who are you marketing to? Remember who your target audience is. Every tweet or link you share should provide value to this audience. You should tweet links to your blog posts and website, but here’s a good rule of thumb, for every 10 tweets, only 1 should be about your blog/book/website.

Retweet others, it’s a great way to build report, but remember, only retweet things that you think your audience will find useful in someway.

2. Finding followers. Here’s where #hashtags come in to play. Search for the key words that define your target audience. I often look up #quilting, #crocheting, #cooking, and #christianfiction. Start a conversation with these folks. After all, that’s what Twitter is about. Most times, they will follow you back.

Don’t start a conversation simply for a follow back. Talk with them because you have something in common. People know when you’re being phony. Even if it’s just two folks a day, it adds up over time.

3. Use Lists. I’ve heard the argument that it’s impossible to keep up with hundreds and thousands of friends/followers. Yes, that’s true, but Twitter has the glory of lists. You can make a list and categorize your followers there. I have several, you can make them private if you don’t want people to see how you have them listed, or public and others can follow your list.

For example, I have a list of readers where I put folks who chat about the books they’re reading. I have one for my fellow writer friends. The possibilities are endless and you can pull up your list and chat w/ folks about that subject when you’re in the mood or have time.

Lists are the key to making Twitter work in my opinion.

4. Engage with other users. If you never talk with people, you’ve missed the point of Twitter. It is called Social media for a reason. In fact, if someone follows me and I check out their profile (I always do) if I don’t see Tweets including other people’s @handle, then I don’t follow them. I want to talk w/ people, not have them just talk at me.

Are you a Twitter user? What’s some of your tips or cool people who you’ve found via Twitter?

Follow me on Twitter and let me know if you found me from this blog. 🙂

Celebrate Your Book With a Party!

November 4, 2011 was starred, circled, highlighted and otherwise bolded on my wall calendar, computer calendar, and represented in a countdown ticker on my desktop.

What’s so special about that date, you ask? My book launch party for Lakeside Reunion, my debut novel, which released in November by Love Inspired.

After receiving the call from Rachelle that launched me from an unpublished author into the publishing world, I envisioned hosting a book launch party to celebrate this dream-turned-reality with family and friends.

I set the date, searched online for book launch information, and came across articles by Deborah Vogts and Ava Pennington on the CAN site. Their articles are very informative, so if you’re in the planning stages, check out their great advice.

Following their leads, I created a budget, then enlisted family and friends to help. I chose to host the party at my church because it wouldn’t cost me anything and it would be a good marketing opportunity for our church.

Once I saw my cover, I decided to keep a simple, yet classic theme of leaves. What better symbolizes autumn?

As silly as it may sound, I compared myself to a bride-to-be preparing for her wedding day. If you’ve planned a wedding or helped with one, you know what I’m talking about—budgets, food, décor, and we can’t forget the dress.

I sent out almost 100 invitations to family and friends across the country. I wanted them to celebrate with me (and buy my book)!

I kept the menu simple–cinnamon roll mini pancakes to go with the breakfast theme in the book, apples & caramel dip, candy corn M & Ms, cake, cider, coffee and tea. We had plenty of food leftover so people don’t attend to eat.

The building anticipation created a roller coaster of emotions—would anyone show up, would I sell any books, would I run out of food, what if they hate the book? The day couldn’t arrive fast enough—the day was approaching too quickly. I still had too much to do! What was I thinking having a book launch party anyway?

The weekend of my party, my prayer partner and close friend Reba J. Hoffman flew up from Florida to attend. My friend Carolyn, who was one of the first to read Lakeside Reunion in its infancy ten years ago, drove up from Virginia to share in my special day. My family rallied around me. My Coffee Girls surprised me with a large keepsake box. What I pictured in my head was nothing compared to what played out on that gorgeous autumn afternoon.

Tears flowed. Cameras flashed. I laughed. I hugged. I signed. God used little ole me to write a story that touched hearts. One of my mother’s friends shared how Lindsey’s story helped her cope with her husband’s recent death. As family members and friends celebrated this milestone in my life, I gave God the glory. After all, had it not been for Him, none of that day would have been possible.

What about you? Did you have a book launch party? What special moment stood out to you? If you haven’t had one yet, are you planning one for your book? What expectations do you have?

Settling the Score in 2012

Photo: D Sharon Pruit

Like lots of writers, I’m goal-driven. Each December I reflect on what I’ve accomplished the past year and what I still want to achieve. I’m not talking New Year’s Resolutions here; my WordServe colleague covered that quite brilliantly here. I’m talking about taking a good hard look at where I currently stack up against where I want to be.

When I started writing, I decided if I did one thing—no matter how small—every day to move toward my goal, I was doing okay. That worked for a while. I sold a couple of novels, completed several new manuscripts and got an agent—all aspirations I’d set out to achieve. Then something changed. People were measuring success in the social media space in a quantifiable, new way.

I knew social media was important for author promotion, so I increased my focus there. I expanded my social networking channels, reached out to make new contacts and endeavored to add relevant content wherever I participated. Eventually, I fell into a nice rhythm, and I’d thought I reached some moderate success.

Until, I discovered Klout.

I understand the importance of measuring the benefit of action against the time (or money) spent taking that action. Klout measures influence based on ability to drive action through social networks. As authors, we want people to engage with us, and we want them to read our books. So, off I went to Klout, armed with the warm-fuzzy I was already doing okay. I signed into my various latest-and-greatest social networks, then eagerly awaited my score.

It came back: twenty. Let me put that into perspective. An average score for someone dabbling in social media at that time was around 22. I had spent the year ramping up my social media presence and was still decidedly below average. The cat-lady next door probably had a higher Klout score than mine. Dismal didn’t begin to describe how I felt.

Being goal-oriented, I’m not one to wallow in my misery, so I looked up people with Klout scores I admired and tried to emulate them. Ten+ tweets a day? Eesh, but if it will make a difference, okay. Post more Facebook content people are likely to like, comment on or share? Let me just dust off my crystal ball…check. I can do that! Get more mentions on Twitter? No clue, but maybe if I tweet more it will help. And it couldn’t hurt to blog more…micro-blog more…get more followers…make more friends…post better content…be more interesting…put more out there…respond more to other people’s stuff…who said less is more? More is more!

I adjusted my program, then went back to check my score. It was now a bright, shiny…24? Still not good enough. I continued to make tweaks and check to see if anything I did made a difference. When someone reblogged my content, what did that do to my score? When they commented on my links, how did that help? What if I un-followed a bunch of inactive Twitter accounts, did that do anything? One day I thought I’d hit on something when my Klout score jumped to the high-thirties, but then I figured out they changed their algorithms and lots of scores had gone up by 10 or more without any outside effort whatsoever.

Then it dawned on me, if Klout can tweak their so-called measuring stick, why can’t I? Who really cared about my score anyway? Would an editor not buy my novel if my score wasn’t high enough? Would my agent drop me if my True Reach wasn’t up to snuff? Would my Yahoo groups cringe to be seen with me? Would my Tumblr pals run away like one of their clever little gifs? Would I never sell another book again?

I’m guessing the answer to most of the above is ‘no’ with the exception of that last one, because if I didn’t stop obsessing about moving my Klout score, I was never going to make time to finish another book again. Ever.

As I look forward to 2012 and set some writerly-type goals, I’ll continue to include author promotion among them, but I’ll be careful what I use to measure my success. Even though Klout is interesting and a great validation for some, I already know it’ll no longer be my personal yardstick.

The only numbers I want to obsess over this year are word count, the number of pages I’ve edited, and possibly the number of adverbs I remove from my first drafts. I may even go back to my old adage: what have I done today to further my writing career? I’ll stretch myself to improve my writing—to dig deeper for character development, to toss out clichés and to make my dialogue sing. I’ll remember why I joined social media to begin with: to interact with friends, readers and other writers.

And when I look back this time next year, I hope I’ll be able to carve another notch in the old doorframe and celebrate 2012 knowing how much I’ve really grown.

What about you? How are you measuring success against your goals?

%d bloggers like this: