In this post, we look at how writers can create a book trailer.
In my last post, I expounded upon my own journey from the first vague musings of an idea through to writing the book and then onto making a book trailer for the launch.
But How Does One Create A Book Trailer?
There are a number of ways ranging from affordable and easy, to the full blown ‘lights, camera, action’.
Your trailer could be:
- A basic slideshow.
- A slide show with footage, and music.
- An animation slideshow with music over static illustrations but with other moving parts such as text flying in, zooming in or out on the illustrations etc.
- A live action video.
If the latter, complete with professionals, is the route you’re taking then most of what we’re going to be talking about will be handled by the production company. A note on production companies; it’s likely you will be there on the day of the shoot. If you are, and unless they ask your opinion, stay out of their way.
Let’s Assume You’re Doing This Yourself
All book trailers, no matter where they sit on the affordable to professional line, need 13 things:
- A Budget. If you are doing this with a minimal budget, never fear. Always be realistic about your budget and plan accordingly. Don’t assume people will do anything for free. Not even your friends. If it’s their day job, they deserve to be recompensed. If they haven’t mentioned payment, you should.
- A Knowledge Of Other Book Trailers. Before you start, research book trailers and see what other people have done.
- A Script And A Storyboard. In film and television there is a saying – Better pre-production, better production. In other words, the better prepared you are before you start creating your trailer, the easier and quicker making the trailer will be. The end result will also be better. Keep it simple and to the point. The book’s blurb is a good starting point. Read it slowly and time yourself. If it’s longer than 20 – 30 seconds you will need to rewrite it. Don’t rush the reading, take it slow, leave gaps for pics or action. A good trailer won’t be longer than 2 minutes. You don’t have to be an illustrator to create a storyboard. Stick figures are fine. It’s a guide to remind you of what type of shot or pic you’re looking for. It prevents you from shooting extraneous shots on the day.
- Sourced Pics, Video, Music, And Sound Effects. Many people with a limited budget use pics or clips that are available for free and don’t feature people at all but do speak to the atmosphere of the book. If you are going to get your own shots and video…
- Cast And Crew. You will possibly need a cast. The cheapest way is to strictly limit the number of people in the video. Even if you have written War and Peace, you don’t need a cast of thousands. One person can be just as effective if your script is powerful. Use friends and family, or yourself, but then you’ll need someone else to film you.
- It’s Not A Movie. Keep the action simple. No acting required is the best option. Walking, running, strolling, hands touching props, opening or closing a door, that kind of thing.
- Costuming And Catering. If you are doing a shoot remember that the cast will need costuming. Trailers for contemporary books will be the easiest to shoot, unlike historicals or space adventures, as your actors could probably use clothing from their own wardrobes. This is good as the cost of hired clothing can add up. Just make sure your cast is wearing outfits that match the type of person they are portraying, rather than the exact outfits you described in the book. And don’t leave this to the last minute. It takes time and can be fraught with egos. Another good reason to limit your cast. In terms of crew, you may need people in charge of props, make-up, and food. Always have catering! Even if it’s just coffee and doughnuts.
- A pic of the cover of the book. There are great free sites that can at the click of a button put your book cover on to a tablet, a mobile phone, or on a print book. If you are only doing an ebook, it’s best not to have a 3d version of the book as readers will then expect to be able to buy a print copy. Make sure you use a hi-res .png file.
- Text. Even if you have a voice over you will need text on screen – the book logo, the log line, and where the book is in terms of availability: Available Soon, Available On Pre-Order Now, Available Now, for example. You might also want to put a very short version of the book’s blurb across two or three slides. It’s a good idea to use the same font that appears on the book.
On the last slide you should put either your author website address, the book’s website address if it has one all to itself, and hashtags – the book’s title, and your name. #PrideAndPrejudice #JaneAusten for example. Please, I beg of you, always have each word in your hashtags begin with a capital letter. The last thing you want is a PR nightmare. Susan Boyle’s album release hashtag will remain forever indelibly etched in the minds of anyone who saw it. #Susanalbumparty vs #SusanAlbumParty. See what I mean?
- Graphics. Depending on your book’s genre, you may want to embellish either the picture slides, or the text slides, or both with appropriate graphics. It’s important to stay within the era and genre of your book. If possible, use graphics that either the same or similar to the ones on the cover.
- Logos. Your book title with logline should be a logo. A text graphic with a transparent background that you can drop in anywhere. Have 2 versions. One in black and one in white. It’s a good idea to put the logos of the places where your book is available on the last slide. Always look for hi-res versions with a transparent background.
- Creative Software. If you are doing it yourself, you will need some software to edit your video. Here is a great list of the software available. It’s not an exhaustive list so do a search and find the software that’s right for you. If they have tutorials, do them. If you’re needing something a lot easier and simpler to use, then Canva could be the answer.
- A Voice Over. Again, this is something the production company will handle. It’s not a good idea to do your own voice-overs.
The Last Word
If you have always wanted to learn how to write a book, how ideas move from mind to page and beyond, then sign up for a course with Writers Write It’s the perfect place to learn and take the journey to being an author.
by Elaine Dodge. Elaine is the author of The Harcourts of Canada series and The Device Hunter. Elaine trained as a graphic designer, then worked in design, advertising, and broadcast television. She now creates content, mostly in written form, for clients across the globe, but would much rather be drafting her books and short stories.
More Posts From Elaine
- From Original Story Idea To Book Trailer
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- 3 Great Fiction Books That Have Real Authors As Their Main Characters
- 3 Great Books Set In Book Clubs
- 4 Great Books Set In Libraries
- Great Books Set In Bookstores
- Book Traditions Around The World
- The Different Types of Series You Could Write