A good script, creative editing and brevity are what make a good book trailer. The trailer should visually hint at what takes place in the storyline rather than literally explaining all the details. A well edited trailer keeps the story moving and ensures that the trailer isn’t too short or too long in duration. Your music selection and quality of graphics are also important considerations for a successful trailer. The book trailer for A Child Called It by Dave Pelzer is an example of really good work. Examples of a bad book trailers are everywhere. Most of them are not actually trailers but rather DIY slideshows. There are some popular services that make creating video easier but I liken them to the early days of desktop publishing: just because you have a tool that allows you to create your own layouts, doesn’t mean you will automatically (or easily) produce professional results. They often use low quality graphics/photos, copyrighted music (don’t even get me started on that!) and poor music selection. Poor editing makes them way too long and they just plod along to the bitter end. The main reason why they don’t work is that viewers’ tastes are more sophisticated these days. You are competing with what they see on network tv, cable, etc. An example of a bad trailer is here.

Some tips for authors wanting to do their own book trailers

First, I’ll cover some great sources of media for your trailer. For beautiful, high resolution images that you can download for free, visit www.unsplash.com. Another site along the same lines is www.gratisography.com. Video clips for your trailer can be expensive but fortunately there are some really good free or inexpensive options. You can find free public domain clips at www.archive.org. You can find thousands of great video clips at www.videoblocks.com. They offer very high quality videos for a super low yearly subscription. For music go to www.freestockmusic.com. Just create a free account and download all types of music styles for free with no license restrictions.

Once you have your media, here are 4 basic steps to creating a trailer that has impact:

  1. Write a script specifically for video. Start with your book’s synopsis. Its usually brief and provides enough detail without giving away the plot. Make your trailer’s duration no longer than 90 seconds. A good rule of thumb to remember is 50 words amounts to about 30 seconds of video.
  2. Find appropriate music. Music sets the emotional tone of the trailer and is just as important as the visuals. Wisely choose what goes with the story you’re telling with the video. Watch trailers in your genre to study what music selections were used.
  3. Edit the trailer. PC users can edit using Movie Maker which comes installed with Windows while Mac users can edit with iMovie. A great resource to learn tips & tricks of editing video is www.lynda.com.
  4. Distribute your trailer in multiple places. Although a great place to post, YouTube is now a crowded space that requires LOTS of work to be noticed there. That said, don’t put all your eggs in that basket. There are video distribution services such as www.oneload.com that, for a fee, will distribute your video to multiple, popular social and video sharing sites. This really increases the chances of your hard work being seen and traffic being led back to your site or blog.

Hopefully these tips will help in creating your trailer. When completed, shoot me a link to it so I can share with everyone.