Crafting A Trailer by Sinead MacDughlas
I have a love/hate relationship with book trailers. I love to watch them. I love their marketing value. I love to hate the cheesy ones — and I hate that I don’t have the budget to make an awesome one.
Independent authors have two options when it comes to trailers: hire someone to put one together, or do it themselves.
Making a book trailer can be a creative experience that motivates an author to keep going. After months of writing, re-writing, and editing the same story, the urge to just trash the whole thing, and start something new, can be overwhelming. Constructing a book trailer can also be a creative experience that drives an author completely into the realm of insanity.
I’m no expert on the book trailer, but I have made a few now, and I’ve learned a lot along the way. Some of it I learned by research, some by trial and error. Hopefully, sharing that knowledge will help other writers produce beautiful trailers for their books.
The process for creating a book trailer can also be applied to home movies, wedding videos, music videos, (for Independent musicians), and keepsake videos.
The very first step is finding a video editing program to use. I made my first trailers with the Windows Live Movie Maker program that came with Windows 7. It’s a fairly user-friendly program, and since I’m no computer genius, it was just what I needed to get started.
The trailer for my anthology, made with Windows Live Moviemaker and watermarked clips.
Eventually I graduated to AVS Video Editor. Which is a little more complex, but similar enough to WLMM, that I found it easy to use, as well. The free version leaves an awful “watermark” right in the middle of the screen, so I paid for this program, and I think it was worth every penny. Look for online coupons, or wait for a sale, if your budget is as low as mine.
My own (most recent) trailer made with AVS Video Editor.
There are other programs available, but I have no experience with them. Therefore, I don’t feel comfortable suggesting them. A google search should give you a good selection.
For authors, you want to make your video a visual synopsis. It should intrigue the viewer, giving them just enough information about your book, to draw them in, and make them want to purchase it. There are two ways to do this. You can have your actual synopsis, (or back cover blurb), read as an audio track, or you can do a breakdown of the novel, as a whole. I prefer the breakdown method, but both are viable.
In the breakdown method, you make a list of key elements in your novel. These elements can include: the plot, main characters, subplots, important physical objects, and key scenes and/or locations, (among others).
The next step is to create a short line, (I call them taglines), of text for each element. If you are going to have these taglines read as an audio track, you want to keep them under three to four seconds each. If you’re going to have them as “floating text”, you’ll want to keep them short enough to be read in the same amount of time. Being a fast reader, I try to make them short enough that I can read them twice in the allotted time. It’s also important to keep the taglines short to allow for large print, without covering the entire screen with words.
When you are done, you should have enough elements to fill out a two to two and a half minute trailer. You want to keep a book trailer short. This is a tease, to entice readers, not a movie to reveal the entire book, after all.
Once you have your script, it’s time to find your video clips and still images. If you have a school nearby that has a visual arts or film course, you might approach the instructor about asking students to create the required pieces for you. Or perhaps you have some talented, local, amateur actors/models, who might be willing to help. If, like me, you have no such convenient resources at your disposal, there are options available online. Some sites offer free video clips, royalty free, but these are rare. Most require a credit of some sort, a small fee, or the free clips are watermarked. Whatever the case, be sure to make a note of the policy for each clip, to avoid copyright issues.
Here is a list of helpful sites for video clips:
and sites I found helpful for still images:
Next comes the sound.
If you want to have an audio track for your taglines, you might try downloading FREE Hi-Q Recorder. I have this program and with a computer microphone, it works reasonably well, though you’ll need to play with it a bit to find the best location for recording without background noise and/or static.
You’ll also want music, and possibly, sound effects. A wonderful site for music is Incompetech. Composer Kevin McLeod has hundreds of free music tracks categorized by “feel”, free to use with the correct disclaimer/credit. I’ve never found the need to search for another site. If you want to use something known, you’ll have to obtain permission or use something available from the public domain. I found a nice selection of public domain music, and hundreds of great sound effects at http://www.sounddogs.com and there are, again, several other sites offering free sound effects and music. A quick Google search for “free, royalty free audio download” should give you plenty of options.
I tend to lay out my video clips, untrimmed, or loosely trimmed, before selecting the music. Then I find something that conveys the mood I want and goes well with the clips. After I’ve added the music to the file, I trim the clips and images down to “fit” the music.
The final steps, for me, include layering video, adding floating images, and timing the scenes to the split second. It takes a lot of practice, and even more patience, to get a trailer just right. Here is an example of a trailer I made for an author-friend. Her novel is set in the Regency period, and she required a specific piece of music for her trailer, (one her protagonist plays for another character, in the book). With a combination of video and still images, along with her “taglines”, this is what we put together:
This trailer was produced with AVS Video Editor.
Don’t forget to add your book cover, at least one purchase link and the required accreditation to your trailer. When it’s complete, you can share your masterpiece on several sites. There is a great list of the most popular sites here: http://www.ebizmba.com/articles/video-websites. When you upload your trailer, be sure to fill out the information and metatags. And most important, include a purchase link, if the option is available.
The most important rule, if you’re going to make your own book trailer, of course, is “HAVE FUN WITH IT!” I hope you found this helpful, and I wish you all the best of luck with all of your creative endeavors.
About Sinead MacDughlas:
Sinead MacDughlas is a forty-one year old wife and mother, living North of Toronto, Ontario, Canada. She’s an insomniac, regularly feeding her addictions to coffee, chocolate and cheese, though never all at once.
A proud Indie author, Sinead loves to dabble in anything creative.
Her gypsy-like existence has, ironically, never taken her out of Ontario, but forty-two moves have cured her of any urge to change location again. Sinead has been employed in various ways including, but not limited to: waitressing, student-journalism, telephone sales, amateur modeling, marketing, taxi driving, retail management and cabinet making. If nothing else, her travels have provided her with plenty of inspiration for her writing.
Her available work is a short story/poetry/prose anthology The Unscheduled Stops. Her WIP is a contemporary crime fiction novel Learn To Love Me, due for release on August 12, 2012.
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