So you’re ready to create your book trailer as part of your book launch campaign. You want to create a compelling experience that moves people to find out more or even buy your book.
You’ve come to the right place, because this is your guide on how to make a book trailer.
If you’re like me, you’ve come across incredibly bad book trailers. You know, those bad excuses for a book trailer with horrible music, no editing, no motion, recognisable stock images juttering left to right with no compelling or emotional substance.
I’ve created this guide so you can learn the best practices for creating an effective book trailer, with a breakdown of each step used to create a quality book video or book trailer. If you take action and stick to these steps you’ll create a much better DIY book trailer to captivate your audience.
How to make a book trailer like the pro’s on a budget
However large or small, know what your budget is for creating your book trailer. It helps you stay within your means and be resourceful about making every dollar count. Some of the best trailers ever created had a very small budget. Remember The Blair Witch Project? That was shot on a 16 year old’s pocket money allowance when compared to Transformers.
It’s not always about the budget. It’s about being creative and resourceful with what you have available.
You need to know what you have at your disposal, and of course, good planning. That’s where I can help you.
To get your budget sorted, I’ve provided a printable budget sheet template, included in the free book trailer production kit.
1. Know your audience first (who is your trailer for?)
This is the first thing you need to consider before spending any time or money creating your book trailer. If you actually want your trailer to be effective and watched, then resist the urge to jump straight into creating your trailer.
Who is your target viewer, it’s the same person who’ll want to read your book.
A parent? A teen? Adults?
Knowing your ideal audience, is the first step. It’s what becomes your ultimate guiding light when writing your script, storyboard and editing. Your trailer needs to have the right tone for your audience.
It’s going to be what helps make sure your content is appropriate, relevant and appealing. Don’t skip this part. Take 10 minutes to consider who you’re actually wanting to watch your trailer.
2. Start with your script outline
It all starts with the script. If you don’t write out what you want to happen in your trailer, how on earth will you know what images and video you’ll need?
Before you jump into doing any fancy video or audio work, you need to flesh out what your trailer is actually about and what happens. This starts by writing your script, shot for shot, including what happens, who says what and where.
For an example script and your free script template for Word, download your free book trailer production kit.
3. Storyboard your shots
This is where shot ideas are roughly sketched out. It’s a process still used in the movie industry today during a films pre-production stage. Shot ideas are drawn as squares on paper or in a storyboard software program.
Each square represents a shot, accompanied by a brief description about what’s happening in that particular shot. Up to six shots can usually fit on a standard A4 page.
This story-boarding process allows you to create shots and make changes very quickly. It’s NOT about creating pretty finished pictures. To get the most from this process, you’ll need to tell the perfectionist in you to go jump, otherwise you’ll become bogged down, lose momentum and ultimately sink into procrastination paralysis.
Keep things rough and fluid. Try different shots, see what works and what doesn’t work. Then once your sequence of shots are all complete, it’s then time to scan them I to your computer, so each shot is saved as a separate image ready for the next step.
You can grab your free printable story-boarding template in the free book trailer production kit.
4. Rough cut edit
Think of this as completing a rough sketch of your trailer from beginning to end. This part of the process is where you edit your storyboard and soundtrack together. This is the part many people miss and in all my years of working with video and multimedia, this is where you find out whether your shots and video is working as a whole. It’s where the life of the trailer or video is created.
The most important consideration during this first rough edit is keeping your shots punchy and matching the beats of your soundtrack where applicable. I highly recommend you get a friend or colleague with some experience in photography or video to sit with you.
Your goal having completed your rough cut, is to be able to sit back and watch your trailer from beginning to end, and get an emotional punch. If you and your test viewers are not emotionally moved or feel compelled to find out more about your book after watching this rough cut, you have some work to do.
It’s much easier to refine the flow, pacing and “feel” of your trailer now during the rough edit phase, before you go to all the effort of buying images, shooting video or creating animation. All the bell’s and whistles in the world won’t make a bland, flat or emotionally void video trailer any better.
As the old saying goes, ‘if you polish crap, it’s still just shiny crap’.
5. Create your soundtrack
The soundtrack is referred to the audio file used in the production. The soundtrack can refer to the dialogue track used with the actors or narration, or the music track.
For example: you may have a shot of a man driving home from work and pulling into a driveway, with music playing. Then once the car stops in the garage, you cut to the kitchen where his wife is making dinner. While the shot of her making dinner is visible, the music ceases and dialogue of her singing can only be heard.
This is an example of different elements of your soundtrack working together to help tell your story.
A quick note: the third audio component of your trailer will be any sound FX that may be required. Sound FX can be a wide range of sounds such as:
- bullets whizzing by
- birds chirping in the background
- car sounds
The sound FX are done in post-production, which is after the final shots have been created. More on this later in the final edit stage.
6. Create your final shots
Now it’s time for “lights, camera, action!” Here is where you create all your final shots, one by one using your ‘rough cut edit’ as a blueprint.
Use your breakdown sheet to delegate tasks like photography, shooting video, titles, text motion and animation as required. Decide what you’re good at and want to focus on. If you’re the project manager or you have someone else, make sure each shot and tasks associated for completing each shot are ticked off when completed.
You don’t want to get to the final editing stage and realise a photo wasn’t taken, a video wasn’t recorded or a piece of dialogue wasn’t recorded.
7. Final edit
The final edit is where your book trailer starts to really come alive and you’ll get a rush of feelings of accomplishment and fulfilment as you watch the shots all playing out one after another, creating a consistent viewing experience.
Once all your shots are in place with your soundtrack, you’ll be able to fine tune the length and pacing of your shots with some minor editing. Most people make the mistake of not showing anyone the trailer before its finished, instead waiting until its “out there” for feedback. By then its too late.
Avoid this, there’s no room in Hollywood (wink) to be coy, shy or feel reserved. You need to create the most compelling trailer you can, and this can’t be done in a vacuum.
I highly recommend you have someone sit with you, with a fresh eye to provide feedback WHILE changes can still be made. Then show it to a group of friends and family and request objective feedback, because you need to see if the trailer moves people, that it’s a compelling viewing experience.
8. Post production and finishing touches
You’re almost done. Your feeling of satisfaction and accomplishment creates small butterflies of excitement in your stomach.
At this point you’ve screened your final edited book trailer to select people and you’ve made any necessary final tweaks based on feedback you’ve received.
All that’s left is adding any finishing touches and polish, such as:
- Additional titles
- Your official book Availability information is displayed on the last screen
- Any additional sound fx polish
- Any additional video effects polish
Once your book trailer is complete…
It’s time to export your book trailer as a file type that is optimised for viewing online, and ready to upload to your selected channels such as YouTube.
Remember to get your free book trailer production kit here.
If you need a video editing program check out: Good Video Editing Programs for Creating Book Trailers.