Creating a Low-Budget Book Trailer: More Tips and Tricks

After accumulating all the video and audio I needed to make my book trailer and downloading it to my computer, I had to put it all together. I used Movie Maker software to get the job done. The software is free, and it has plenty of features for me to be creative with. There are many other software packages to choose from that would serve the purpose. Do your research and see what is the best choice for you.

More than Video

If you know how to work with photo editing software, you have other options besides video to add to your book trailer. For The Zombie Next Door book trailer, I envisioned a few scenes that I couldn’t shoot with video. I added a few still pictures to create the special effects. One scene has an angel statue on top of a tombstone that turns into a gargoyle. Another scene has a voodoo doll winking. I used Photoshop to create these ‘special’ effects with multiple still pictures. The angel and gargoyle are small statues from a local fountain store. Yes, I took my camera to the store and didn’t have to buy the statues. All I needed was one picture of each. The Zombie video wound up costing nothing but my time.

Putting It All Together

The first scene in both my trailers is a picture of the book cover, which I set the duration (how long it appears on screen) for four seconds. I didn’t add music or do anything special for Pirates, but I did for Zombie. Movie Maker software lets you preview what effects you can do before you save it, and you can always change it at any time. For each segment of video you can:

  • Set the speed, duration, and video volume
  • Choose visual effects including posterize, black and white, and sepia
  • Add animation effects including crossfade, pixelate, and dissolve
  • Other options include adding music, a title, a caption, and narration
  • Video stabilization

After Adding the First Segment
After I added the book cover, which was a .jpg, I added the first segment of video, which was the boat scene filmed at the lake. This was to give the illusion that the action was going to happen on a boat—although I never set foot on a boat to film anything. I didn’t add music to this scene because I wanted to hear the waves and marina sounds.

The scene’s duration is five seconds. I also added text to it that is a line from my book “No sane man uproots his family to become pirates overnight. Hoody Klopt had snapped…” If the viewer doesn’t catch on from the title that the book is about pirates, this line will clue them in. Hoody, by the way, is the father of the three pirate boys. The text is on the screen for five seconds. You have to determine how much time the viewer will need to take in the scene and read the text.

What’s the Story About?

Keep in mind if the viewer hasn’t read your book yet, this trailer is meant to sell them on it. You need to choose your text wisely. I also went through all the text and condensed it, so it could be read more quickly yet have the same meaning. The next scene from Pirates showing a gloved thief is right out of the book. I added scary music for tension and text that would tell the story “Tommy, Connor, and Dillon Klopt steal from the rich and give to the needy—yet danger lurks behind every door”. The viewer can gather the boys are pirates but nice ones. The duration of that text is six seconds. With Movie Maker, I could change the font, size, and color of text for each text box.

Music and Effects Tips

I could go through each scene step by step, but I think this is plenty to get you started. After much trial and error, I found that it is easier to add the music and sounds as I add each video or picture. You need to play around with all the features to see what works best for each scene. For instance, the graveyard scene in Zombie, which was shot in daylight, looks like it was taken at dusk after changing the brightness in the visual effects tab. I made it as dark as possible. Applying the cyan tone, which is also under the visual effects tab, gives the scene a darker look as well. Once you know what features are available and how they work, you will be able to put a video together much faster and easier.

I enjoyed making the book trailers, but I have no idea if they’ll drive up book sales for my middle grade and young adult (YA) books. I also showed the videos to my Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) writing critique group after I put the trailers together but before I posted them on YouTube. They had wonderful suggestions and even ideas for future videos. When I work on my next YA book trailer in a few weeks, I’ll post each step as I work on it. Until then, good luck and have fun putting together your trailer.

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About twkirchner

I am an author of children's books. I love animals, especially wolves, painting, tennis and keeping busy. If it involves pirates or zombies...I'm interested.

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