Monday, September 10, 2012

How to Create a Book Trailer

 It used to be unconventional for a novel to have a trailer, but now, you see trailers for books everywhere.  It's the new cool thing.  Book trailers are very similar to the previews you watch for movies--in a world overrun with technology, readers need just as much visual stimulation for books as other entertainment mediums.  It's no wonder that authors have taken to using book trailers as their latest marketing strategy.  And not without some modicum of success either.

I knew I wanted--no, needed--a book trailer the moment I started researching them on Youtube.  I saw some really bad ones, and then some really good ones.  I started realizing the difference between the two: (1) good trailers are relatively short--a minute to a minute-thirty seconds--and relay the main idea of the book quickly; (2) good trailers leave enough to the imagination to be intriguing and keep the reader (or non-reader) interested in the project; and (3) good trailers have pronounced (aka "flashy") content with theme-appropriate music.  A good book trailer can draw an audience that typically doesn't read, and can pique the avid reader's interest much more quickly.

I researched companies who created book trailers, but most of the companies and freelancers that specialized in such things wanted anywhere from $300 to $1200 to put one together.  (The average, I found, was about $800.)  Of course, they promised a slew of promotion with the contract as well, but most of the sites they advertised were not reader-friendly.  In short, it became clear what I needed to do.  I would have to create one myself.

I found my laptop already had installed a program called Windows Movie Maker.  Super user-friendly, this Windows program proved to be as simple to operate as Microsoft Word.  With pictures or video inserted in my starter pane, I could add effects to still shots, slow down or speed up video, as well as cut, elongate, or edit content.  I could even add music!  (For the faint of heart, Movie Maker tutorials are available online.)

I found free stock pictures at a variety of places; my primary source, however, was WikiCommons.  They can be a little difficult to navigate (as their sort headers are relatively abstract and unconventional), but perseverance proves paramount here.  You can find almost anything.  For music, Free Stock Music was immeasurably useful.  I also found free sound effects at AudioMicro.  These music sites only require an email address for signup, and, at the time of this post, do not require fees for membership, or payment or donations to acquire downloads.

Once I had what I needed, I put together a storyboard for my trailer, inserted the appropriate pictures, captions and music, and voila!  With some rather insignificant tweaking, I was able to make the words and images move and appear in the way I wanted (thanks to the tutorials), and the finished project is below.

Consequently, I posted to Youtube, Goodreads, my website, and any other place where my trailer was welcome.  I began including the Youtube link when I do author features on other blogs.  The view count on my Youtube page is rising daily.  Who knows how many sales those views will amount to?  But with a trailer created on about a day's work and no pocket money, those sales will be well-earned.