Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Producing a Book Trailer

It's all the rage with indie and traditional published is the video trailer for a book. Publishers may produce book trailers now because they are seeing the added value and exposure of the internet.

Who actually reads the New York Times in paper form or any of the dozens of other big named papers when they can get it online? Are you as irritated with junk mail or advertising filling up e-mail and regular mailboxes? Give me a two-minute blurb to help me decide. That's what a book trailer can do.

With sites like youtube and the like, it's easier than ever to promote online. The basic video production software is already on your computer for most of us running Windows. Personally, I like the detailed adjustments using Windows XP over the newer version of Windows 7. I don't know about Windows 8 because I haven't played with it yet.

There are a couple of ways to do a video. You can actually stage and film your video with actors, or using picture manipulation, or use both. You can also make a PowerPoint first then manipulate it with Movie Maker. I use Windows Movie Maker because it came with my computer.

 The Bottom Line

Let's face it when you are an indie author the bottom line or cash outlay is important.  If you've paid for professional editing or cover design you already have a small bundle in your book before you even publish it. You already have the investment of time, energy, research (internet), maybe a wig or two because you've pulled your hair out while writing the book.

You, as an indie author, probably bought MS Office at sometime during your writing career because Smashwords only takes Word documents. So you have MS PowerPoint. The first video novel trailer I made was for my first novel Escape from Second Eden.


I did it with PowerPoint slides and Movie Maker. I had some problems with the add-ins like music, sounds, and just general software utilization so I asked a teenager to show me how to do it. I learned a lot. I tweaked it, overlapped it, and just forced myself to learn all the bells and whistles that came with the Movie Maker.  I'm not totally happy with it, but it works and it was free because I did it.

Can I make money off of video production, yes. I have and will continue doing it because I enjoy it. Intellectual property has value and my time is worth something even if I enjoy doing it. It also helps me buy wigs for all the hair I've pulled out searching for appropriate music and images for the trailers. Just joking. On average I can produce a trailer in under five hours depending on what kind of book it's for, have graphics and photos, and sound. So what am I doing for five hours? Tweaking, resizing, editing, and formatting the trailer...sound familiar? Yep, it sounds a lot like writing. 

Some Things to Think About...

  • Make sure the images are copyright free and even better, royalty-free.
  • The same goes for ANY and ALL music and sounds you use.
  • Read the info for various media production sites...notice how many say "not for commerical use" If you are using the trailer to sell is commercial use.
  • Give credit where credit is due. Most royalty and copyright free music and images give full use and manipulation so long as you give them credit. This includes the name of the piece, the artist, and site you downloaded will see this in "Credits" in my videos. Using a popular song on the radio is a big no-no. You can be SUED.
  • If all else fails, email the photographer or musician. Some may love the added exposure and feel flattered. Some will deny you. It's worth a shot.
  • There are some specialty programs for video making and tweaking in the marketing place, but before you buy one...think. They can be very costly. How many views do you expect to get and how many trailers are you going to make. Divide the number of videos you are going make into the cost outlay of the software. Now is it worth it?
  • The total length should be no longer than 3 minutes. That's how long you have to catch someone's interest. Ask any agent or publisher.


The Reality

Making book trailers is an artistic outlet for me. I do it because I enjoy it. If you expect to get a couple thousand hits's doubtful. All twenty plus book trailers I've created have never done that. Over a couple of months, yes.

It's a hands-off advertising gimmick once it's completed. It will sell your books 24/7. We are all human and we need to sleep sometime. Keywords play another key roll in making your book findable but that's a blog for next week. Until next time...

Keep writing and loving the Lord.

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