Creating your own Book Trailers

February 24, 2008

On my local RWA loop, one of the other writers asked what types of promo actually work to introduce an author to new readers. Wow. If I knew the answer to that one, I’d be able to retire to Maui next week. I sort of use the shotgun method myself. I spray the news about my newest release, DISTRACTING THE DUCHESS in every outlet I possibly can and hope that some of it hits the targets.

And one of things I use is book trailers or bookpeeks, as they are sometimes called. Now I know some authors spend beaucoup de bucks having their trailers made professionally. Since I’m not sure they work, I can’t see investing in one since I’m able to put together my own for under $25. But wait you say–What kind of trailer can you make for that piddling amount? Well, check mine out and you tell me.

Ok, I know the music isn’t too hot. There is a way to download professional music clips, but that requires more money and lots of people, like me, regularly turn the speaker on their computer off. Besides, I’m not related to my father for nothing. He’s been known to pinch a penny till it squeals. But cheesy music notwithstanding, the pictures give a hint at what the book is about. And hopefully sparks some interest, which is all a book trailer is expected to do. And for less than $25, I can afford to have it out there even if it doesn’t sell a single book.

So how did I do it? I’m glad you asked. First I downloaded Photostory3 FREE! This is a very simple program that allows you to put pictures together, create captions to tell the story and generate your own music for the bookpeek. I’m the anti-techno queen. Ask anyone. But Photostory is easy and intuitive. My uber-techie husband tells me that means it’s designed to be used by people who can’t even buy a clue. So even the wishiwasa-geek can do it. Like me.

Where did I get the pictures I hear you ask? Google: royalty free photos. You’ll find dreamstime and istock and a host of other sites where folks offer their photos for a very small fee. Some authors like to take their own pictures, but that requires talent with which I have not been gifted. I have a lovely collection of photos of headless family members if anyone’s interested.

One of the things I’ve noticed about book trailers is that they are sometimes too long and give away the entire story. Before I went looking for pictures, I thought about the elements of my story, trying to pick out the most enticing, of course. Then I wrote 10 phrases that tease my book. There isn’t room for complete sentences without covering the picture. Once I was satisfied with my copy, I went in search of 10 pictures that would fit my phrases. Plan to spend a couple hours. Ten frames will give you a trailer that’s about a minute long, which is long enough.

Then I enlisted my techie husband’s help in saving my finished product as a file type that would be accepted by the video sites. To my sorrow, I can’t get YouTube to like my DUCHESS. That site won’t take the upload, but Veoh and MySpace took it without a blink. Dirty rotten YouTube.

One of the benefits of doing a trailer is that it’s sort of like doing a pitch. We need to be able to tell people what our books are about in extremely short form. I’ve heard some authors browse the photo sites before they even write the story as an exercise in brainstorming. If you’re a visual person, like me, you might find it useful.

Wonder if I can do a whole synopsis on Photostory? Might beat the little sticky notes plastered all over my mirror that I use now. Hmmmm . . .



8 Responses to “Creating your own Book Trailers”

  1. Wow. Very cool. I had wondered how book trailers could be done by technical newbies with no budgets. Thanks for the insights. Have you found that the trailer gets a fair bit of play? And where does one post trailers — YouTube mainly? Or are there other places?

  2. Juni Lyn said

    Interesting post, I had heard of book trailers before but had yet seen one. I am now intrigued to do one of my own.

  3. dianagroe4emilybryan said

    Veoh and MySpace take trailers as well as YouTube. I’m sure there are other places as well. My Veoh trailer has had over 500 views and the MySpace one has had over 300 hits.

    I’ll also be having my trailer played at the Romantic Times Convention in Pittsburgh in April.

    Will it make anyone buy a book? I have no idea. But at least the cover art and the title is being tossed out there. And just putting it together was fun.

  4. Diana: Here is a link to a free place to get royalty free mood music. I have made several book trailers and slide shows using this. You may have to search around for awhile to get the right mood. There are more royalty free places as well.
    I am a MAC person and most macs come with Imovie. It is great for making book trailers. There are other freeware places that you can go to do the same thing. I also use flash, but that takes a litte more expertise to use.
    I think book trailers are a good idea. The more forms of media you can use to promote yourself the better off you are.
    Ruth Hunter
    Graphic/Web Designer – Writer

  5. dianagroe4emilybryan said

    Thanks for sharing, Ruth. I’ll check out the music site.

  6. Lacey said

    I can’t seem to get the trailer to open from that link, but I think it’s uber-cool that you made one yourself, and I really want to see it!

  7. dianagroe4emilybryan said

    I don’t know why veoh is being ornery. Try my myspace and see if it works.

  8. very nice.

    i just started to do book trailers. i was appalled to find out how much they cost (in my mind, i could pull it off for less). i did two for myself and just did one for a friend. now, some other people have been asking me to do theirs, so i might branch out a bit and do it for others for like 80% less (the market value of what i do is about $1500; i can’t wrap my head around that one! i guess it can be worth it – to pay $1500 –, but i just can’t see paying for that when you are just starting out). the kind i like the best are the mini-teasers that run 2 minutes or less, so that’s what i’m doing.

    is the link for the three i did with music. the first one was pretty good, but i fixed what i wanted to recently.

    i say: use whatever medium you can to get the word out on what you wrote. book trailers are just one more way of marketing, so might as well add it to the pot.


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