Making an Effective
Book Trailer

© Judy Bagshaw and Skyla Dawn Cameron- All Rights Reserved



With the popularity of sites like YouTube, and with easy to use software now available to everyone, making a book trailer has become one of the newest ways to promote books. 

Essentially, you can equate a book trailer with the movie trailers we get bombarded with prior to the feature presentation at the theatre or on a DVD. Short, catchy teasers to get us to go to that next film, or in the case of book trailers, to buy that book!  

Nearly all computers come with "Windows Movie Maker" (go ahead and have a look in your start menu). The benefit of this program is that it’s very  user friendly. Load your clips and music, cut and paste them together, and then spice it up with some one-click transition effects. Voila: video. 

The downside is that it is very limiting and users often outgrow it. For example, you can only have one layer of music, one layer of images, and one layer of titles, and all of the effects and transitions are preset so you have very little control over customization. 

If you have the extra money to spend and are prepared for a steep learning curve, Adobe Premiere offers many more options. Layer image upon image, add layers of sound effects over your music, and control every aspect of your video production. Coupled with Adobe After Effects, Adobe Premiere has endless potential. 

Some other options to consider are the video software that comes with most handheld camcorders, or programs like Nero that offer the option to create video CDs. 

Besides your book cover art, your trailer or promo video needs images. You can take photographs yourself, or find royalty free images via a source like the Stock.XCHNG. Always be sure to check the terms of usage, however; some photographers have restrictions on their pieces. If you’re artistic and you want to go the extra distance to have custom images, programs such as e-Frontier’s Poser are popular for creating digital art, and a lot can be created in Adobe Photoshop. 

There are also many sources out there for royalty free music, such as . Once again, always read the musician’s terms of usage before downloading a piece for your trailer. 

But making a good trailer is not as easy as you might think. After all, you need to condense a several hundred page story into a minute or a minute and a half tease. This becomes the biggest pit-fall for many newbies—not knowing where to stop. 

The best advice for designing an effective trailer is to look at commercials and how they’re structured.  

Your promo should be short (thirty to ninety seconds maximum) with as few words as possible (for example, don’t use your entire book blurb, but instead choose a few key phrases that give viewers a feel for the novel). 

Because you’re more likely to have stationary images rather than live action that movie trailers have, try to include as much movement as possible with your images—anything to grab (and keep) the viewers attention. Zoom in, drag it across the page, change the saturation level or focus—play with your clips to find what is the most effective. 

For an example, view Skyla Dawn Cameron’s promo video for her new novel Bloodlines . You’ll notice she doesn’t tell you anything about the plot of the book, nor does she give you the book blurb, but you have an immediate sense of what it’s like: fast paced, action packed, with a vampire main character who kicks butt.

Another example is Judy Bagshaw’s "opening credits" video for her free romance e-serial "soap opera" Desperate Hearts. Playing on the story’s tagline, the video introduces the main characters (created using Poser), and the central themes of the serial, with very little text. The music is the main clue that this is romance in nature.

And don’t be afraid to cut and splice the music. The original track used for the Bloodlines video, "Harmful or Fatal" by Kevin McLeod, was over five minutes long, however it’s been cut and pieced down to just twenty-eight seconds. 

Something to keep in mind though; just because you can make a trailer, doesn’t mean you should. Not everyone is cut out to be a designer. And a bad, amateurish trailer can do more damage to your book sales then no trailer at all. Consider hiring a skilled individual to create your trailer for you. The small cost is worth it for a book trailer that will bring readers clamouring to buy your books. 



About the Authors: 

Judy Bagshaw has been published since 2000. Writing romance featuring full-figured heroines, her publishing credits include several novels, a collection of short stories, and short stories in multiple anthologies. Retired from teaching, she writes full-time from her home in Ontario, Canada. Visit Judy's website

Skyla Dawn Cameron is an award-winning urban fantasy author, artist and graphic designer, and occasional marketing wh*re. She lives in Southern Ontario, where she writes up a storm and dreams of becoming world dictator. Visit her on the web at  for excerpts, a community forum, contests, free fiction, and more.




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