Building a Book Trailer on a Shoestring Budget (pt 1)

It’s Painful, and It’s Ugly


Hello, and thanks for letting me present how I build my book trailers. Some people can get lucky, and know what they want in their trailer right out of the box. Others, like myself, have to wait until after a book is finished (or at least the rough draft is finished) to know what needs to be included.

There are a multitude of steps for this, and the early stages can feel quite painful to work through. Don’t worry. As the project gets close to completion, that painfully ugly duckling you thought would never grow up will begin to fledge into a wonderful creation. There are a few basic skills you will need to have before you attempt this on your own:

  1. Know where to find good royalty free images, or be able to draw with a good camera/lighting for your slides

  2. Know the tone of your book, and how music will relate to your story. You do not want to get a light, effervescent piece for a horror/thriller, nor do you want a downer/militaristic piece for your romance. Music selection is very important.

  3. Have at least a basic knowledge of PowerPoint. The method I use does not actually use PowerPoint, but the skills are very similar.

  4. Be familiar with your computer’s inherent video maker. Since I use a PC, I use Windows Live Movie Maker. I’ve been told that the Mac version is very similar. If I’m wrong, please let me know, so the proper steps are listed somewhere.

With just these 5 skills, you can make a book trailer that can look quite professional. For this installment, I’m going to walk you through the most painful part of the process. Book trailers are basically a video book BLURB. You want to hook your readers, not summarize the entire story. With that in mind, you will need to distill your 50,000 words down to something closer to one to two hundred words MAX.

What I do to start with is to look at my books, and how many chapters I have. Most are paced, so the book has 20 chapters (if I have any say about the process, which I had better). So, knowing that I expect to have a rough video of 22 slides about the book itself. These need to include:

  • Your cover image

  • About one slide per chapter

  • A slide for any image and music credits

Wikicommons can be a great place to pick up images, just be sure to click the “more information” link for the licensing information. Copy that into a separate document. You’ll need it later.

For a complex book that has several important subplots, you may elect to go with a few less or a few more slides. Just remember you want at least a five second exposure, for each slide or the images won’t register. If you have text on them, 8 – 10 words is a good ideal maximum for that time frame.

I’m going to sign off here, and let you work on this phase – getting your book distilled down to your maximum slide number. Keep in mind that most songs are between 2 minutes and 4 minutes. There are longer ones out there, but that is not recommended. Most book trailers fall in the one to two minute range.

See you next time (Sunday 12th April), when we talk about assembling your slides.



(To find out more about Kat, click HERE to see her Guest Author article – TSRA)


45 thoughts on “Building a Book Trailer on a Shoestring Budget (pt 1)

  1. I think I caught up with everyone. If I didn’t, I’m terribly sorry. And, I think I need to have a long heart to heart with my pukah. They took this off my check in schedule. (In other words, I got sidetracked, and forgot. I’ll tattle on myself.)

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Looks like you’re a seer, Chris! I was looking into this a couple of days ago when someone posted on LinkedIn about making their first trailer. She suggested Windows Movie Maker 6.0 (free!) and I have downloaded it to test it out. Do you use PowerPoint?

    Liked by 3 people

    • I have a Mac Wendy, but don’t use the iMovie programme that comes with it, (very basic and not intuitive to use) I have several other programmes I got through the Apple App Store tested the free versions and bought the ones I liked 😀
      There are also free online programmes that seem to be good, IF you have your visuals ready and know exactly what you want to do) 😀

      Liked by 1 person

    • eek! missed the comments, so am running late.

      I have Photoshop Elements, but if you are comfortable in Gimp or Krita (both free to download), you can get the same effects. For the final product, I used Windows Movie Maker.

      Liked by 1 person


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