Let’s Make a Book Trailer — Part 2

Let's make a Book Trailer Part 2I’m back with the second in a series of posts on making a book trailer.  You can find the first post here.

We’re going to make what I call a teaser trailer — heavy on hooking the reader, lighter on the promotional aspect (buy my book!).  That is not to say that there will not be any promotional material — there will be, or there is little reason to make the trailer in the first place.

We’re going to start with a technically very simple trailer.  Here are our design constraints:

  1. Developed using 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

Given the constraints, the first effort a book trailer is better thought of as a book trailer slideshow, but it is a start, and we can, over time, increase the trailer’s sophistication.

Before we gets started with PowerPoint, there are several things we must consider:

  • Trailer Objective
  • Trailer Style
  • Trailer Structure
  • Trailer Storyboarding

This blog post will cover the first two, Trailer Objective and Trailer Style.

Trailer Objective

Ultimately the idea behind a trailer is to drive book sales, but its not quite that simple.  What if your book isn’t finished yet? Leaving aside the issue that your time might be better spent actually writing your book, what then?  If the book isn’t finished yet, your objective can only be to build awareness and excitement of what will come.

So we have two possible objectives, then based on the state of the book:

  1. Selling — the book is finished and available to readers.  The trailer objective is to spur viewers to take action — buy the book; this is typically the objective of the promotional trailer, which I discussed in Part 1.
  2. Informing — the book is not finished, and likely won’t be for a while.  The trailer objective is to build awareness of the upcoming title, and create a sense of excitement over it’s future debut.  This objective is more suited to the teaser trailer.

The line between the two is blurry, and similar elements can be found in both.  However the distinction is useful for planning purposes.

We’re going to build a teaser trailer, with the objective of informing.

Trailer Style

Trailer style refers to the overall “look and feel”.  It has a heavy impact on the emotional effect the trailer will (it is hoped) have on the viewer.  It is intimately bound together with the book itself and drives asset selection, colour choice, font styles and, eventually, transitions, animations, music, and voice overs.

Because we are working with a very simple trailer, we really only have control over three things:

  • Colour pallet
  • Font style
  • Image assets

Colour palette refers to the mix of colours you use in your trailer, including slide backgrounds (remember we are working with PowerPoint), images, and fonts.  The key is to ensure that:

  1. Your colours reflect the type of story your novel/book is telling
  2. Your colours are complementary to each other (they just seem to “fit”)

For example, if you are putting together a trailer dealing with a gothic love story you may want to use a lot of blacks, greys, and reds for colours.  A children’s story may be more suited to brighter, warmer colours.  An action adventure n book trailer may have stark reds, blacks, yellows — exciting colours that stand out.

Ultimately the colour choice is yours, but you should make sure the colours you choose complement each other.  You can do that with a colour palette generator.  There are several available on the web.  Here is a blog post that lists 28 of them.  Pick one and use it.

The 28 best tools for choosing a colour scheme

If you are using stock images take a look at #23 and #26.

Font style should reflect the setting or subject of your novel.  Bookman font might be appropriate for westerns (i.e. stories that take place in the American old west).  Children’s stories might have font that reflects fun.  Here are a few examples:

Book Trailer Font Examples The foregoing are suggestions only, and you should feel free to choose whatever font you feel best reflects your story.

However, I recommend using no more than two fonts.  Any more and you risk drawing attention away from the trailer subject and focusing it on the fonts themselves.  Fonts should be “transparent” in that they convey the written message without becoming an object of interest in and of themselves.

Image assets are going to be the meat and potatoes of your trailer, at least for very simple ones such as one being created here.  You have four types of image assets:

  • Stock photos
  • Commissioned or self-produced photos
  • Stock art
  • Commissioned or self-produced art
  • Under “art” I include all non-photo image assets (e.g. logos)

You can either buy stock photos at any number of sites or use royalty free photos.  Depending on the number of photos you wish to use buying them might be a reasonable course of action. There are many sites devoted to providing stock photos (e.g. shutterstock. istockphoto, etc).   Many of the sites also have video stock and music available as well. However, check the copyright and usage terms when you do purchase.

Alternatively you can search for royalty free images.  Again, there are a number of sites available that provide such images.  You can also use Google to search for royalty free images.  Here is a great article on how to do this.

The key is to choose images that compliment each other in style and colour.  If you are purchasing images, shutterstock spectrum is a great tool for finding images with the same colours.

If you are writing fantasy or science fiction, your choice of images may be more limited (not a lot of stock photos depicting 23rd century faster-than-light dreadnoughts).    You can still try searching images and may find some that fit your needs (for example, there are lots of images of swords ).

If images are not available, consider commissioning an artist to produce a few images for you.  Be aware that this can become expensive depending upon the number of images and detail you want.  Prices might range from $50 to $300 an image.  Finding and commissioning an artist is subject worthy of several blog posts on its own, and I have covered this subject partially in my Working With Artists — What to Consider posts, Part I, Part II, and Part III.

If you have the skill, you can consider shooting your own photos or creating your own art, but this implies you possess the necessary skill, equipment, and time.  Most of us do not.

Unless you are an experienced artist/graphic designer, I would not mix art and images together in the same book trailer.  It can be tricky to do this right.  Done wrong and you wind up with a trailer looking like a disjointed mess.

That’s all for Part 2, More to come!



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