Creating a Book Trailer

How boring would movie trailers be if they consisted exclusively of text? Extremely so. Why? Because they’d essentially be presenting audiences with little more than the movie’s description set to music–and this usually fails to excite the masses. If you spend a few minutes on YouTube or IMDb, you’ll notice that trailers in the film industry tend to be packed with visually striking clips, each carefully picked to elicit viewer interest. Book trailers should be no different. They should leave people yearning for more and scrambling to get their hands on your book, or, at least, that should be your intended goal.

When it comes to crafting a book trailer, authors can take one of two paths. The first entails hiring someone to create one for you. This option is usually an expensive one, however. Prices can run in the thousands, and the cheapest trailers (in the neighborhood of around $300, from what I’ve seen) tend to be mediocre.

The alternative to hiring someone involves acquiring the desired footage–as well as all other necessary files–from a third-party and editing the trailer yourself. Below, I have listed several resources to aid authors considering this second option. This list is by no means exhaustive. Rather, it includes sites and programs that I’ve personally found to be particularly useful. Without further ado, let’s get into it.

Resources

When I was putting my trailer together (which you can view by clicking here) I stumbled upon VideoBlocks. What a fantastic website! It has hundreds of thousands of royalty-free video clips for you to choose from. The great thing about Videoblocks is that they offer a one-week free trial, so you can get a feel for the website before making any commitments. They also have affordable monthly and annual plans–and I do mean affordable. For one month’s access to unlimited downloads, you pay the equivalent of what some other sites will charge you for just one or two clips. (Note: monthly plans are $79 plus tax). Another good source of footage is Pond5; they offer both free and paid clips.

As far as editing software is concerned, I used Adobe Premiere Elements 9. Overall, my evaluation of this program is largely positive. It requires some patience, and it is more limited in its capabilities than are other versions of Adobe Premiere, but it gets the job done. Those interested can find Elements on Amazon. Of course, one needn’t purchase any editing software at all. There are plenty of free programs out there. (iMovie an Movie Maker, anyone?)

In need of some royalty-free music? Consider checking out Incompetech. All of the music on this site is free to use, provided that users adhere to the site’s crediting policy. The site’s administrator also allows for the purchasing of licenses in the event that crediting is not possible. (Note: the license comes out to $30 per song.)

For sound effects, I recommend Freesound. As suggested by its name, everything on this site is free. However, pay attention to the licenses. Some sound files require that you credit their creator(s); many, however, require no crediting.

Tips/Advice

  • If your trailer has narration, you needn’t go out and acquire an actual microphone to record said narration. For instance, I simply grabbed my iPhone, searched for “Voice Memos” under “Utilities,” and recorded away. I then emailed myself the corresponding files. I would imagine that other smartphones have similar features or apps. If you don’t have a smartphone, try your laptop. 🙂
  • Before you purchase any clips, save their previews to your computer. Afterwards, edit the previews as you would the purchased versions. Why? This allows you to get an idea of what your final product will look like. Hence, it’s a risk-free way of experimenting and gauging what works and what doesn’t.

The Takeaway

Ultimately, a DIY approach is an option that some may want to consider–especially those who are not exceptionally tech-wary. Not only is it cost-effective, but it allows you (the author) full creative control and permits for virtually endless revisions.

I’ll end this post with my favorite book trailer to date. Enjoy!

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