Create a Book Trailer for Under $50

Book Trailers are a valuable marketing and promotional tool, especially for self-published and independent writers. Creating your own book trailer doesn’t have to be expensive. 

I recently got burned when I hired someone to create a book trailer for me. I ordered and paid for the trailer in February, 2014. As of April, 2014 I have not received the book trailer and repeated contact with the woman goes unacknowledged. Even though she has a lot of Internet presence, I doubt I will ever hear from her or receive a book trailer and I’m out the money I sent her. 

That said, I decided to create my own. Why didn’t you just do that to begin with? you may ask. Quite honestly, I wasn’t confident in my ability to make one and to make it look professional. I am the world’s biggest techno-clod and did not believe in my own capabilities. That, and try finding an image of a gold sword that can be used and doesn’t cost an arm and a leg.

Once I decided to create my own book trailer I was delighted to learn a great many things, including the fact that I am perfectly capable of producing something aesthetically appealing as well as a video which presents my book in a professional light. Allow me to take you step by step through the process I used to create my book trailer. 

CONTENT 

Make a list of about a half-dozen to a dozen highlights from your book. Use a few words to get big ideas across. This will help strengthen your writing as well as force you to seriously contemplate the most important aspects of your book. 

I created a total of ten highlights of my novel for my trailer. Here are three very important aspects of the Sword of Tilk Book One: Worlds Apart: 

Barbara Neely wakes up one morning in a different world

She must wield the golden Sword of Tilk to defeat Balfourant, enemy of the Realm

When Balfourant kidnaps her daughter, Barbara must conquer her own demons to save her 

I broke down the aspects even further and added a few more relevant highlights to tell the reader a little more about what Barbara experiences. 

IMAGES 

While you are making that list of your book’s highlights, consider images you would like to use to enhance those highlights. 

If you are artistic you can create the images yourself with artwork or photography. If you’re like me, you may need to scour the Internet in search of images that are copyright free, royalty free and not too costly. 

Two websites offer royalty/copyright free images for unlimited use: www.morguefile.com and www.pixabay.com. Both sites have a large selection of images; however, their selection can sometimes be limited in scope. 

Wikicommons (www.commons.wikimedia.org) is also a source for free images as long as you stick with images in public domain. That way you don’t have to worry about licensing, sharing and the like.

Three top websites with images for use are Dreamstime (www.dreamstime.com), IStock (www.istockphoto.com) and Shutterstock (www.shutterstock.com). These images are at a price. All three sites have two different ways to pay: 1) Purchase credits or 2) Subscription. Each photo on the sites is worth a certain number of credits. By purchasing the credits you then get an image and the credits it is worth is deducted from your purchased credits. Purchase a subscription and you are allowed to download a certain number of images within a specific time period. 

I suggest going with Dreamstime which is where I was finally able to find an image of a gold sword. The cost is $39 for 5 images within a one-week time period and this is the best deal if you only need a few images. I was able to find five images which I felt were appropriate for my trailer. 

PUTTING IT TOGETHER 

If you have Windows on your computer (who doesn’t?) then you have Windows Live Movie Maker. It’s actually a fun little program to play with. 

Image

Begin by uploading just a few images and text. Each time you need to add a new frame, click on Title in the tool bar. To add images, click on Add videos and photo. Once you have added the photo, click on Caption to add text. 

Now you get to have some fun. 

For the images, click on Animations. This will give you a selection of “special effects” for your image. Dissolves, transitions, patterns and reveals are just a few of the effects you can add to each of your images. Also under Animations you’ll find Pan and Zoom to further enhance your images. Both can be combined to really make your image pop. Be aware, however, that not all Animation choices will be available for the very first frame of your movie. I believe the program assumes the first frame is the title frame and effects for that particular frame are limited. 

Text can also be manipulated by clicking on Text Tools. You can scroll it, zoom it, swing it or fly it. Try different combinations to see which text effect works best with the animations on your images. Don’t be afraid to experiment. You might be surprised at what you come up with.

SOUNDTRACK 

A book trailer is nothing without the proper musical accompaniment. Again, if you are capable of creating your own music or have a friend who can do that for you, by all means create away. One more aspect of your creativity you can display is always a good thing. 

There are quite a few free music websites out there but the trouble is the selection is limited. I have yet to find truly “free” music which would serve as good accompaniment to my trailers. I used Melody Loops (www.melodyloops.com). Most of the music they have available only costs $10 which isn’t much if you think about it. They have a huge variety of music which you can use as you wish and you can give it a listen before you buy. The site also allows you to “loop” the musical selection so it will match the length of your video. Or you can choose “Fit to music” in your Windows Live Movie Maker (under the Project tab) so the video matches the length of the music. When you download the music, be sure to save it in a place where it is easily accessible. 

Here is the really tricky part: sometimes the music doesn’t work well with the video. It’s a good idea to download Freemake Audio Converter (www.freemake.com/free_audio_converter/‎ – it’s FREE) and convert those music files to mp3 or wav. Try each one because the wav worked best for mine. Even if the original file is already in mp3 use the converter and convert it to mp3. This works out any glitches in the download and the music flows more smoothly. Using the original file without converting it through Freemake sometimes causes the track to “break” in places it isn’t supposed to break. 

Click Add Music on the Home tab and select the music file. Click Fit to Music if the soundtrack runs short or long. This will increase or decrease the amount of time each frame slides by so the music and images coincide. 

REVIEW YOUR VIDEO 

Watch your completed video. Several times. Watch your pans, zooms, and transitions closely to make sure they flow smoothly. Read your text and then read it again to catch any errors and to be certain it is coherent. Watch both the images and the text until you are confident they work well together and present your book in its best light. 

THE MATH 

Let’s do the math: $39 for images (which works out to a little less than $8 per image), $10 for music. That’s a total of $49 to create my own book trailer. That is about one-fourth of what I paid to have one created and a fraction of the cost of most trailer production sites I have visited. 

If you use your own images and music, it pretty much won’t cost you a thing. That’s even better than $49! 

A FEW EXTRA TIDBITS 

Now that your book trailer is complete you’ll want to upload it to YouTube, Vimeo, Goodreads and any other sites which will allow you to upload it. Before you do, you must save it in the proper format. 

To do this, click on the icon in the upper left corner of the Movie Maker screen. Choose “Save Movie” and “Recommended for this Project” at the very top of the choice list. Save it in a location where it is easily accessible. You are now ready to upload your video. Be forewarned: it takes forever for the video to upload. So once you click the “upload” button on the site you’re uploading to you can pretty much start a load of laundry, clean your bathroom, brush your teeth and get dinner started before it is completed. You could probably color your hair and wash the dog while you’re at it. 

Also, when you add a frame in Movie Maker by clicking on Title in the tool bar, don’t be surprised if the frame appears prior to a frame you’ve just created. For some reason, that’s how it works. You may also encounter some extra blank frames tossed in. Delete the frames you don’t need and move the frames around in the order you want them to appear. 

Keep the trailer short and sweet. Ninety minutes is probably the max you’ll want to do for a book trailer. If you’re doing a trailer with a more poignant or specific message, two minutes, tops. 

If a techno-clod like me can create my own book trailer, anyone can. Save yourself time, money and lots of aggravation by giving it a try.

The videos I have created aren’t bad. My ideal would be to have them actually filmed but film costs are far and beyond my budget. Check out the links below to see each video: 

Sword of Tilk Book One: Worlds Apart

http://youtu.be/uxTa6cIrteI 

Journey of the Heart

http://youtu.be/1LZGqBpJRvY

 

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