Creating a book trailer on a budget

A book trailer is used to whet your audience’s appetite. Now I don’t know if it is the best marketing tool to help sell your book but I decided to put one together for Summoned, the first book in my trilogy.

There are many places that will do a professional job for you but being an indie author on a budget, I couldn’t justify the expense without knowing it would truly help sell books. Plus, I happen to like making short videos and do it all the time for my kids’ birthdays and to capture important milestones or holiday memories.

I used Pinnacle Studios because that is what I use to create the family movies. But you can use Movie Maker which you can download free from the Microsoft website. (Or iMovies if you have a Mac.)

Before you start, I suggest going to YouTube and searching “book trailers.” Watch some and decide what you like. You will find that many of them are just still pictures set to music or narrated or even a combination of both. You will probably see a few with live action.

Now if you can hire actors and film scenes, more power to you. However, I am working with a fantasy novel and can’t afford a CGI team to build a dragon or create a magical battle.  So I choose to do still shots.

Now a quick note here about using images you find on the internet, unless you took the pictures or they are public domain images, you will need to pay (or get permission) to use the images. I used Dreamstime, iStockphoto and BigStockphoto for my images. Each of these places offers images at a reasonable price.

The total out-of-pocket expense for my trailer – including paying for the music – was $25.

And speaking of music, again, you need permission to use it. You CANNOT legally use music from Pirates of the Caribbean or any other movie (or professional singer) without getting permission – even if it is for non-commercial use. Using copyrighted music without permission is a sure way to get sued.  I got one track of music from iStockphoto for $10. It is a looping set of fast paced music (starts during the gypsy scene). The other was a piece that was already public domain.

One last tip about music and images is to make sure you pick good, strong images that will keep the viewers attention. Strong music can’t make up for weak images and vice versa.

Before picking out your images, you need to write your script. This can be hard as you need to reduce your story into an even shorter message than your blurb. If you are not doing a voice over, remember to keep your words on the screen to a minimum.  No one wants to read a bunch of text while watching a video. And make sure you allow them enough time to read each screen before moving on. Test it out on a few friends or family members to ensure that your timing for each scene is correct.

Here is a brief rundown of the storyboard for my trailer. The images are listed first and then the copy I planned to use during each scene.

Picture of Lina/grasslands: Lina never considered leaving her beloved homeland

Picture of sign: until she felt an unnatural urge to head north

Picture gypsies: Her decision is made for her when she is kidnapped by gypsies

Picture of forest: and taken to a foreign land

Picture of a fortress: the pull north is strong as ever… she must go north to find out

Picture of shadowy figure (Ben Dar): who is summoning her

Picture of Gunn: Along the way, she battles creatures of magic

Picture sword/cloaked figures: and makes powerful allies

Picture fire/cloaked figure: as she struggles with her own magic

Picture staircase/door: and facing her destiny

Picture of the book cover: Summoned, Now available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, and Smashwords

Now if you watch my trailer, you can see that I did alter the images some based on what I could find. I would suggest you aim to make your trailer between one to three minutes in length. Mine is a minute and a half.

Once you have your trailer completed, you can put it on your own website or blog as well as YouTube, Google Video, book-trailers.net and numerous other websites that feature videos. Of course getting your trailer to the best sites and seen by the appropriate audiences….well that is a topic for another blog.

One thought on “Creating a book trailer on a budget

  1. […] I first wrote about book trailers back in 2012 when I created one for my book Summoned. Back then, many trailers were simply a collection of still shots set to music. For someone on a tight budget such as myself, this was an easy option. The total out-of-pocket expense for my trailer – including paying for the music – was $25. (You can check out my post here.) […]

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