Making a Book Trailer – A Brief How-to with the Costs for a Movie Trailer-Look

There still seems to be much debate about the value of book trailers. I, for one, love them and think they are very useful for children’s literature. I know some teachers and school librarians use them to encourage children to read. An author-made book trailer can’t compete, of course, with a big-budget trailer produced by a professional at a publishing company, but I think we can still make ones that showcase our books. I wanted to post how I did mine for my latest book, WOLF STORM, and how much it cost, so that other authors who are considering trailers can use this to look at some of their options.

There are many ways to make trailers. I learned on the fly, so to speak, and have no previous experience, so there may be better or cheaper ways to do this than my method. First of all, I couldn’t have done this without my 15-year-old son, who knew far more about the movie-making software than I did.

The costs first: We used an old video-editing software called Ulead, which we bought about seven years ago for $80.00. I’ve heard IMovie, available for Macs is very easy to use, and I know there are many choices out there. I purchased all the music, video clips and illustrations from At Istockphoto, a buyer purchases a block of credits, and the larger the block purchased, the less expensive each credit becomes. A credit ranges in price from $1.25 if you buy a huge block to a $1.63 if you only buy a few. That’s why it’s best if you can search out what items you need, add up the total number of credits required to buy all of them, and then purchase the block you need right before you are ready to put the trailer together. You can download samples for free to rough out a trailer, and this helps insure you have exactly the right bits before you actually buy them.

My trailer was far more expensive than many author-made ones, because I decided to use video clips as much as possible, rather than still images. I wanted the feel of a movie trailer and thought that would be the best way to accomplish it. There are also different levels of quality of images and clips you can buy, which affects the price. I chose to purchase “big web” images because I wanted them to show up clearly when viewed full screen.

If you haven’t seen the trailer, here it is:

Here’s what I purchased with the credit price (not dollar price) next to each one:

Video Clips:
Space ship animated 55
Sweeping mountain scene 55
Nice snow scene 30
Creepy snow scene – 30
Snow falling – 30
Black Wolf – 30

Still images:
3 photos of girl at medium quality 10 each- 30
Spaceship illustration 15

Total of 3 different clips at 15 credits each – 45

I was not very familiar with Photoshop then, so the poster image is one I paid someone to make. Now I would be able to do it on my own. I also filmed one clip myself, begging my husband and son to participate, making that one was free. The boy who did the voiceover is a friend of my son’s, and I didn’t pay him, except to give him a $25.00 gift card to an indie bookstore in our town.

The total number of credits I used was 320 credits. I purchased two different blocks because I didn’t anticipate the exact number I needed, so on average, I paid $1.45 a credit. That brings the total to $489.00 with the gift card.

How I did it: I wrote a rough script and blocked out different ideas for images. Once I started searching through Istock, I ran across others that I thought would work better, and continually adapted the script to the images. We put all the images together to see how long the video would be. I wanted it at no more than two minutes, so we did some shortening of various clips. After that, we recorded the dialogue and added it in to fit the images. This showed us where we needed to cut some of the clips and double others to get the timing right. My son added in the music around the voice, lowering and raising the volume to the appropriate levels.

It’s a long process, especially searching for just the right images and music, but I enjoyed it. If you don’t like that sort of thing, it would be very frustrating. Overall, I would do it again. Whether or not it’s worth it in pure monetary terms as it relates to book sales, I don’t know. Then again, so much of what we authors do is hard to quantify, so at least with this particular promotion attempt, I came out of it with something I’m proud of, and I enjoyed making it.

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