You’ve all seen book trailers – the brief videos used to market books. Like a trailer for a motion picture, book trailers can make your title stand out among the masses.
Many professionals will produce trailers for a hefty fee, but why not do it yourself?
1. Computer: The first thing you need is a PC or MAC with decent operating speed. We used a PC with Windows 7. Older versions of Windows may be slow to process video data.
2. Camera: Recording in high definition (HD) is not necessary for posting on websites like Youtube. We used a digital SLR camera (Canon EOS Rebel T2i), but we did not film in HD. Instead, we used 640 x 480 pixels which created a much more manageable file size. (TIP: Make sure your software will open your video file type before you shoot the trailer.)
3. Tripod: This is a must. Use a tripod. Always.
4. Microphones: If you plan to include external sounds/voices, use microphones.
1. Setting: Choose locations based on your book’s theme. Obtain permission to film on anyone else’s property, and do not show anyone in the film without their permission (this includes folks in the background).
2. Shooting: Shoot short segments and paste them together using a video software package. We used Windows Live Movie Maker which was easy to use and comes with Windows 7.
3. Editing: Transfer all the video segments into a single folder on your computer. Decide on the order of the videos in advance (ex: save as Trailer1, Trailer2, etc.). Begin inserting them into the software and trim as needed. You can use the audio from the original film segments or block it out completely and use a separate audio file.
4. Adding Music: While some royalty-free music is available online (http://www.istockphoto.com/audio), my teen daughter composed the music for our trailer. She performed it on our piano, and we recorded it using Microsoft Sound Recorder on our laptop (which is equipped with a built-in microphone). This program is on all Windows computers.
5. Polishing: Your publisher may be willing to add a little polish and a company logo. If so, the best way to share video file access with another editor is to use Dropbox.
Finally, save the file to a common format (MPEG-4 or AVI) or upload directly to YouTube from your software. From YouTube, I embedded my trailer on my website, added it to my author profiles on sites like Barnes & Noble and Goodreads, and shared it with friends through my blogsite. To post on Amazon, SheWrites and others, you need a direct file (not the YouTube upload). Many authors include a link to the trailer in their press kit, and some even distribute DVDs to local booksellers.
What are your thoughts on book trailers? Feel free to link us to your favorites.
A speech-language pathologist and literacy advocate, Julie Cantrell was the editor-in-chief of the Southern Literary Review. She has served as a freelance writer for ten years and published two children’s books. Julie and her family live in Mississippi where they operate Valley House Farm. Her debut novel, Into the Free, released to rave reviews. Check it out!
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