How to Make a Book Trailer: Part I

Why should every author make a book trailer for their book? The answer is that video is one of the fastest growing sectors of the internet. This is because an increasing number of people prefer to get information through video.

Also, book trailers, because they incorporate images and sound, can convey emotions in a way that the printed word cannot. And when someone’s emotions are engaged, they are more likely to buy the product.

You can pay someone to make a book trailer for you. I’ve seen prices from $200 up to $2000. If you choose to go this route, check out the person carefully and view several samples of their work before paying them any money.

But if you are like me and don’t have the money in the marketing budget to pay for a book trailer, the only other option is to do it yourself. The good news is that there are plenty of tools available to make the process easier. Don’t be worried about not having slick effects. The important thing is making an emotional connection with the viewer.

Step 1

Do a little research. Go on YouTube or other video sharing sites and view some book trailers. Look especially for books in your genre. Ask yourself which ones make you want to read the book and which ones leave you cold. Make notes of things you thought were well done.

Step 2

Think about the message of your book. If you are writing non-fiction, you are probably writing something that helps someone solve a problem. If you are writing fiction, there is a central conflict in the story. In both cases, summarize what is this problem or conflict. Write it in a way to get the attention of your target audience.

Step 3

Write your script. I did mine in a Microsoft word document and created a table with two columns. (I searched a long time for the right menu choice, because I couldn’t remember what it was. In case you forgot, it’s Insert>Table.)

Put text for your first slide in the first box of the left hand column. Text for the second slide in the box below, and so on.

In the right hand boxes, put any ideas you have for images that would go with that text.

Step 4

Find images to use. If you have your own photographs, that’s the best option. You won’t have to worry about buying images or paying royalties. Don’t try to just copy an image off the internet. People have been sued for that kind of copyright violation. You’ll lose a lot more in time and money than just buying the rights for photos.

There are many sites out there that offer royalty-free images. This means you pay a small one-time fee and you can use the photos. Some of these sites include:

If you need a lot of images, the cost can add up. So try to think of alternate images or ones you can take yourself.

For example, I needed a prison shot for my trailer. I didn’t have any pictures I’d taken myself of a Soviet-era prison camp. What I did have were some shots taken in a Cambodian prison. I cropped one down to just the barbed wire.

Image of barbed wire

This image implies the prison. I also needed a picture of some gangsters. I took a picture of my husband and his best friend and darkened it so that their faces were almost completely in shadow.

You can do a lot of simple photo editing in PowerPoint, like cropping and changing the brightness. For more sophisticated editing, there are free photo editing websites, like If you really want to get ambitious and crop people out of a group shot or make a color photo look like an old one, Gimp is free software that is nearly as powerful as Adobe Photoshop. There is a bit of a learning curve. In the spirit of keeping my costs down, I got a book out of the library that explained to me what I needed to know.

Now you’ve got most of your pieces collected. In my next post, I’ll explain how to put it all together.

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