You’ve written it, you’ve covered it, and now you need a trailer: Part 3 in a Guide to Self Publishing
I have recently been added as an admin to the group Authors to Watch, which is a fantastic group by authors, for authors (check out Vlog 16.) My part is helping with trailers and promos. So I figured, I would give a kind of round about explanation of what I will be covering. I love creating them and I am always on board with teaching indie authors a trade that will become a valuable part of their career as an author.
Trailers are becoming very popular. They allow you a new market to share your work and provide you with an opportunity to get young people excited about reading. The great part is that with so many amazing websites, like Animoto and Stupeflix, an author can make their own trailers at a reasonable cost. We’re going to be covering length, photos, music, text, and where to put it all together. Those are the most basic parts of a trailer and once you have those down, there isn’t any amount of guides in the world that can tell you what order to put them in. At that point you get to be as creative as you would like to be.
Long trailers are a turn off. Period. If you can’t sum up your book in under a minute (1:30 depending on imagery and grab) then you probably need to either have someone do it for you, or just figure out the parts you can get rid of. A big thing I always hear is “I have so much I want to talk about and one minute isn’t going to be enough.” Well, honestly, if you want to give away that much of your book when you’re trying to drawn attention to it, then you really don’t need to publish the book. Trailers are supposed to grab a reader’s attention and make them want to go buy your book, not tell them your entire plot line. I have seen some beautiful trailers that are well over a minute, and I liked them, but they were too long and told me far too much about the book. However, there is an exception to the rule. When you’re trying to create a trailer about a series, that would be the only time a trailer can sensibly be over a minute.
Of course, the big thing is your cover. You’re going to want to be sure to display in a manner that makes sense. With your cover, you’re going to be working with images that can make your characters come to life. I was fortunate enough to be able to work with my cover artist, Skylar Faith, to come up with character posters that I have been able to use in my vlog opening trailer, and they will be featured in the rest of the trailers through out the series, but not everyone can afford to do something like that. My best advice would be to look for public domain images through Google and sites like Deviantart. You have to be on top of the creative commons licenses or whatever type of permissions the artists are looking for because you want to make sure that you give everyone their credits.
I absolutely love music. It helps me set my mind to go to the places I need it to go when creating my stories, and I want my trailers to reflect that mindset. All of the music I listen to is by big artists with serious copyrights and I can’t afford to get permission to use their songs. Fortunately, Youtube does recognize when you’re using third party music and helps you credit the artist properly, but you can’t use those trailers to market. So where do you go then? Well, I use a website called Incompetech to get all of my music now. My husband uses that site a lot for his games and he initially told me about it. I pass it on to you because if you plan on using your trailers in serious marketing, you have to be sure to use Public Domain/ Royalty-free music. I’m also going to share this article about licensing music for book trailers that Tricia shared with me, so you can get a bit more in depth with your musical research.
A big problem with long trailers is that they say too much. You have to think about what best sums up your story and how you can convey that in a concise manner that doesn’t spoil your story. That’s pretty much it, really. I mean, what else can I say about text that you as an author don’t already know? I think we’re good here.
Now, as an indie author myself, I’m going to assume that you as an indie author are just about as broke as I am. So where do you go to make your trailer? If you have a Windows PC, you can use Windows Movie Maker, or I think Mac has a program built in as well, but I will never own one so I don’t attempt to know. The problem with Movie Maker is that you are extremely limited with how you can make your trailer look and feel. So I discovered this site called Animoto. Animoto allows you to make 30 second trailers for free, or for as little as $10 a month, you can make lengthy well thought out trailers. I use it exclusively when it comes to making my trailers. Tori also told me about a site called Stupeflix, but I honestly don’t like it, however, feel free to play with both, because ultimately, you’re going to be the one who decides which site works better for you. I had someone state that my first trailer that I ever made looked cheap and that the wording took away from the scene, but I’ll let you in one something: In a book trailer, especially one using a theme from a site like Animoto, you’re not supposed to focus on the back ground. You’re using the words to display your message and the scenery is supposed to help the transitions. You are not trying to create a movie trailer when using a site like Animoto. If you want a movie trailer for your book, then you better be willing to shell out a ton of money because you’re going to have to hire a film crew, actors, and a lot more. Besides that, isn’t the point of the trailer to get people to read your story? If you want to go that far with your trailer, especially when book trailers are only just picking up steam, then go ahead, but in my opinion, it’s a waste of money. Something short, simple and to the point are what readers, especially young readers, are looking for in a trailer.
Now, of course, these are just things that I have found to work with trailers. You might find something different to work for you. However, I wanted to share my experience. I am going to share the trailers that I have made with Animoto below. The first 4 were before I knew about licensing, so I don’t own the copyrights to the music or images, but I am going to share them so you can get an idea of what you can create with your trailers. I also created trailers for Tricia Drammeh’s The Fifth Circle, The Séance, and a teaser trailer for Victoria Barrow’s second novel “Blood Rite.”
Tricia Drammeh’s The Fifth Circle:
Tricia Drammeh’s The Séance
Victoria Barrow’s Blood Rite (Readhaven Saga Book 2)
Hope you enjoy. Please feel free to message me if you have any questions!!