Let’s Make a Book Trailer — Part 1

Let's Make a Lady Merrth Book TrailerI’ve decided to do a series of posts on making a book trailer.  My idea is start with a very simple tool, and gradually increase the complexity of the trailer over time.  Each post in this series will add an element that increases the sophistication of the trailer.

First, a few of my thoughts on book trailer types.

in my opinion, there are two types of books trailers:

The straight promotional trailer.  This is very sales oriented and contains elements such as book and author information, review snippets/quotes, pricing, where to buy the book and similar supporting facts.  Strictly speaking these really are not trailers, but rather very direct sales and marketing efforts.  Blatant advertising if you will.

Now I have nothing against advertising as I am very pro-capitalist, but I want good, funny, entertaining advertising.  Stuff like this:

Most of the promotional book trailers I see are not like that, and it’s not just a question of budget and resources.  The book trailers scream “I have an amazing book! Buy it!  Buy it right now, this very minute!”

The one advantage of these trailer types is that they are comparatively inexpensive to make.

The second type of book trailer is the teaser trailer.  This has more in common with the traditional movie trailer and can be difficult to pull off because most people who make them labour under the following constraints:

  1. Lack of resources (i.e. money)
  2. Lack of time (Hey, shouldn’t you be writing?  Come to think of if, shouldn’t I be writing?)
  3. Lack of knowledge (most of us are not movie directors)

The three foregoing constraints can be applied to straight promotional trailer as well, but I argue they are easier to address. The promotional trailers can be less expensive and time consuming to make and there is a wealth of material available on how to do effective marketing presentations using PowerPoint, Video, or other tools.

There are some impressive teaser book trailers out there.  Here is one example:

Good production values, intriguing plot, but somewhat wooden acting.  And … very likely expensive.  There are several company credits at the beginning of the trailer (over 30 seconds worth!) and I am betting they didn’t provide their expertise for free.

Whether or not you should have a trailer made is open to debate.   I think they can form a useful addition to your marketing toolbox, but ONLY if they are both entertaining and informative.  They have to have what Catherine Howard of Catherine, Caffeinated, calls high share value.  See her excellent post on book trailers.

Now, all that said, I want to make my own teaser book trailer.  I have some money to spend, but not too much.

Here are the constraints for the iteration of the trailer (remember, the trailer will evolve and get more sophisticated — I hope — over time):

  1. Use a commonly available tool — PowerPoint
  2. No video
  3. No music
  4. No narration
  5. It must be shareable on the web (it’s of no use if your PPT file sits on your computer unseen by anyone)
  6. Use relatively low cost commissioned art

With regard to the last point, I feel you should be prepared to spend at least some money if you are serious about making your own trailer.  Yes, you can use stock images, but how much time will you spend searching for exactly what you want?  In addition, if you write fantasy or sci-fi, your choice of stock photos depicting elves, dragons, or heavy space-faring dreadnoughts is, shall we say, limited.

So there’s the set up for the project.  I hope you join me next time when we’ll dig in with our (OK, my) PowerPoint teaser book trailer.

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