January 24, 2011

How to make a book trailer

For a while now I've been tossing around the idea of making a book trailer. Why haven't I made one? Honestly, every time I decide to do it, I realize I'm totally unprepared. How exactly should I go about putting one together? Is there a system? A secret that those who have made one know and I don't?

My confusion (along with an overwhelming feeling that I was in over my head) caused me to go out and do what I do best when I have questions... Seek out the answers.

Here's what I have learned so far from those who have made book trailers:

1)  Come up with about 20 short lines that tell your story. Difficult, yes, but necessary. We’re supposed to be able to give an elevator pitch—a summary of our story in a few short sentences. You know the one, the answer to the most asked question: “What’s your story about?”

So use the same hints for your book trailer that you would use for an elevator pitch.

The main one: don’t get lost in the details.

I’ve also heard: Focus only on Goal, Motivation and Conflict.

2)  Photos. Royalty free stock photo sites are the place to get these. I use iStockphoto.com for all of my photos, but there are a lot of them out there to choose from.

These sites can be tricky to navigate and narrow down what you’re looking for. Sometimes reducing the number of words you use in your search helps. Also, once your find a photograph with a subject that works for you, search through the other photos in the set or by that particular photographer.

3)  Now I always thought you needed to use Windows Movie Maker to create a book trailer, but I’ve learned that’s not so. Not that you can’t use it, but you can also put everything together in PowerPoint. Then you simply download free PowerPoint to video software. Who knew?

4)  Do you know what type of music fits your book? Search for it at a royalty free music site. This is important, as a lot of people choose to use songs from the radio or a CD. Don’t do this! It is copywritten to the songwriter/band and you can get in trouble for using it without permission. Always use music from free music sites or that you made/recorded yourself.

5)  Once you have your trailer completed to your liking, don’t forget to upload it to Youtube. Which brings me to a handy tip I've learned about using Youtube to promote:

When you upload your video, there will be a box titled Desciption. The first thing listed here should be the link to whatever you are promoting. Most people don't do this, they rely on the viewer to remember the site link shown in the video. Sure, if the viewer is truly interested, they'll remember it but why not make it easier for them to find you?

So, insert that link. If the link you want to promote is a buy link, shorten it using a site like bitly. If the site you are promoting is your website - perhaps a page on your site where they can read an excerpt of your book and find a buy link- keep it so that people recognize/see your name of your website and book title.

Follow this up with a brief description of your video. Try to come up with something a bit catchier than just title and author. Maybe throw in your tag line followed by title and author. You need to make the trailer description enticing in whatever way you can.Hook the viewer into clicking 'play'.

Great advice, yes? Now I just have to go make one.

Do you have a book trailer? Go ahead and link it in the comments. And while you're there, any further suggestions?


Infogypsy said...

Good topic, especially since I'm in the middle of creating music for my upcoming release book trailer, Night Noise. This is my 3rd book trailer I've done, one using someone else's music and two with my own. No, I'm not a composer, but I have a Mac! A great device for both making the trailer with ease using IMovie which comes on most Macs and Garageband which also comes on Macs. As for photos, I download free Flickr photos which takes a bit of time but not bad. Love your suggestions re titles since that's where I get stuck. In watching film trailers for the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo series of films, I see they didn't bother to tell story, only hooks. I think I'll try that this time.

P.L. Parker said...

I have book trailers for my books. Learning as I go. Fun to do but take some time. The last one for Aimee's Locket, a relative of Mary Ricksen did for me and the finished product is wonderful.

Judy Jarvie said...

Great post Sarah! I've long wondered how and you've helped lots. Looking forward to seeing yours. Judy

Anonymous said...

Oh that link thing is a brilliant idea. Off to update and add that in the description.

Viola Estrella said...

Great post! I didn't know you could use Power Point. Cool. I've used fotolia.com for stock photos, as well. Love that place. And Kevin McLeod for royalty free music.