Run VT! Making a simple book trailer

It’s been ages since I wrote a how-to post – although this one is more of a how-I-did, and not necessarily a how-you-should post.

So, I’d been thinking about making a fairly simple trailer to introduce The Case of the Black Tulips, the first book in the Caster & Fleet mystery series I’ve been co-writing with Paula Harmon. Doing a book trailer had been in my mind for some time, and I’d saved lots of posts about it on Facebook, but for some reason, my subconscious decided that NOW was the time.

Therefore I Googled ‘how to make a simple book trailer’, and started reading. Here are the articles I got most from:

And here are the things I took on board:

  • Write a script – not too many words per image, though
  • Keep it simple
  • Check licensing for music and images
  • Don’t be afraid of humour
  • You can use PowerPoint/Keynote, iMovie, etc (software which I already have)
  • Upload to YouTube
  • Put the cover and buy info at the end, not all the way through

Then I watched a few book trailers, to see what I liked and didn’t like and to get a feel for how I could make one for our book. What stuck out for me there was that the length was almost always between 60-75 seconds. That isn’t long.

I started by writing a short script a bit like a recipe version of the book blurb, with the aim of showing what sort of book it is. As I did that I broke the script up into slides. I knew all those PowerPoint presentations I did at work would come in handy one day!

Then I thought about images I could use, and how to make the trailer consistent with the book. While the book is set in 1890, I liked the idea of having a silent-movie placard feel, so lots of the slides are in black and white, and they use the same fonts as the book cover.  Elsewhere I’ve used images from the book cover and interior, and as they are black, I’ve used the red-orange gradient from the book cover to tie everything together. For images, I mostly used C00 (public domain) images from Pixabay.

But what about music? I knew I wanted something classical and instrumental, and if possible free. One of the articles I read pointed me towards a list of royalty-free music, and I found one piece that sort of worked, but I wasn’t quite sure of its licence. I followed the links back to the source site – and there found a link to a truly public domain site featuring an original piece which was SO right! So having a dig around on the internet can pay dividends.

Putting a rough draft of the slides together didn’t actually take long. What took the time was polishing what I had, in consultation with Paula, and getting it onto YouTube as it was meant to be. Let’s just say that having an antiquated version of Keynote on my computer didn’t help – I have no idea why the one on the laptop is so much more up-to-date but I’m very glad it is! Other issues were getting the slides in time with the music (more or less), and odd things like the music failing to loop. But we got there in the end!

Here is the finished article – hopefully it gives you a flavour of the book, which is basically all I was aiming for.

We’ve had lots of nice comments about the trailer already, plus a few shares on social media – and if the trailer draws mystery and historical fiction readers towards the book, it’s done its job.

Would I do it again? Yes, I definitely will. At times the learning curve felt ridiculous, but now that I’ve figured out how to make a basic book trailer and upload it to YouTube, Facebook, and Amazon, it seems like a waste not to reuse that knowledge. It will be interesting to see if the trailer impacts sales, but anything that gets more eyes on a book – and for free – sounds like a good plan.

Now where’s that director’s chair?!

The featured image is Film projectors by Blondinrikard Fröberg, and it is shared via Creative Commons license 2.0.




10 thoughts on “Run VT! Making a simple book trailer

  1. Pingback: Run VT! Making a simple book trailer | paulaharmondownes

  2. Nice! I love how you were able to convey the relationship between Katherine and Connie in a few words 🙂 I like Adobe Spark — the music and pictures there are free for use (all the rights and everything). Thanks for sharing your tips.


  3. DR Naturegirl

    Works really well and is in the style of the period. Ending a bit abrupt from a musical point of view is all I’d say from a negative viewpoint. Well done. Be interested to know if it impacts sales as you say. May be hard to tell. Should certainly pique interest.


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