Thursday, August 23, 2012

Creating Your Own Book Trailer

Book trailers are a creative way for authors to get the word out about their upcoming releases. But if don’t have hundreds of dollars to spend on a professional book trailer service, don’t worry! In just a few hours, and for a fraction of the cost, you can create a book trailer yourself. 


Two video editing programs that are available for download are Windows Live Movie Maker and VideoPad Video Editor. They’re both free and (most importantly) relatively easy to use. Personally, I like Windows Live Movie Maker the best because it’s more straightforward and requires less of a learning curve. However, the program tends to freeze up if you give it too many commands at once, so take your time and save your work regularly. I don’t use VideoPad Video Editor as often as I do Windows Live Movie Maker because I’m not thrilled with how the subtitles just “pop” up on the screen. As far as I can tell, at least with the free version, you cannot apply special effects to your subtitles (such as fade) like you can in Movie Maker. I would suggest downloading both programs and playing around with each to see which one you prefer. Sometimes you have to use one over the other in the instance one of your files is incompatible with a particular program, as was the case when I created the trailer for BLOOD TYPE


Every author has a different method of writing, and it’s no different when creating book trailers. I rarely create trailers with an actual concept in mind. Rather, I first choose the background music and go from there. It’s been my experience that I just know the perfect song when I hear it, and I can build on a particular feeling. Two sites I use frequently for inexpensive music tracks are Incompetech Royaly-Free Music and Jewel Beat. Lately I’ve been using only Jewel Beat. Overall, the site presents itself more professionally and it’s my opinion that the selection of music is better. 


For images, I use iStockPhoto exclusively. You can narrow what you’re looking for not only by performing a keyword search, but by price, size, and type of file (photo, illustration, video, audio, and editorial). Another great feature of iStockPhoto is the ability to buy photo credits, which are good for up to a year after purchase. The more credits you buy, the less money you spend. So if you have several projects that you know you’ll be working on within the coming month, you’ll actually save money by buying in bulk.

When you’ve decided on your video editing program and you’ve purchased your background music and images, there are a few remaining points to keep in mind:

1. Keep it short. The last thing you want is for prospective readers to stop watching before they reach the end of your video. Book trailers that are too lengthy run the risk of losing the audience. Sixty- to ninety-second book trailers are ideal. 

2. Keep it simple. People who are overwhelmed tend to tune out, and nothing overwhelms me more than too much sensory input. Just because you can choose ten different clip transitions and effects doesn’t mean you should. Stick with the very basics. Remember that you’re creating a book trailer and not a film featurette. 

3. Keep it inexpensive. Don’t forget that you have to pay to use background music and images. And because all of that can quickly add up, that’s another reason to keep it simple. The total cost of the BLOOD TYPE trailer was approximately $43.


Melissa Luznicky Garrett is an author of adult and young adult novels. She lives in upstate New York with her husband, three children, and numerous animals. Melissa is currently hard at work on her next project. You can visit Melissa’s blog, connect with her on Facebook, or view additional book trailers and home videos on YouTube that she’s created using Windows Live Movie Maker and VideoPad Video Editor. 


  1. These are great recommendations. My concern was what about the copyright on the music. Are we allowed to use anyone's music for our video?

  2. Fantastic advice Melissa, especially 'keep it short',
    I used the One True Media site to make a 30 second trailer. They had great software and stock music that was copyright free. I bought images from a stock photo place as well.

    Karlene, you can only use music that's either
    Out of copyright
    Or copyright free / creative commons.
    Anything else you would have to pay royalties for, even if you acknowledge it.

  3. Sounds great, though I'm hoping to do a movie-style trailer if I'm ever published. Those are the only ones that grab my attention. My ADHD brain loses interest pretty quickly with the typical kinds of book trailers.