12 Easy Steps to The Making of a Book Trailer

by | May 13, 2011

by Judy Croome

I’m happy to have as a guest today novelist and short fiction author Judy Croome, who blogs from Johannesburg, South Africa. Judy is in the process of launching a book, and as part of her campaign tackled the task of putting together a book trailer. Here’s her report:

Watching a DVD these days is a complete experience. Not only do we have the movie, we also have interviews with the actors and, of course, the ubiquitous “The Making of…” section, taking us into the technical world behind the finished product.

I’m ambivalent about watching those “The Making of…” clips. I often find that seeing the cameras and the remakes and the lights takes the mystique out of the movie. Who wants to see Take One, Take Two and Take Three of the dramatic rescue that had the viewers’ hearts in their mouths? I’d rather keep the scene vibrant and alive in my imagination.

self publishingBook trailers raise the same ambivalence in my breast: how can a 60-second video accurately reflect my 80,000-word masterpiece?

As the release day of my debut novel approaches, a blogging friend has asked me who was doing my book trailer. The question wasn’t, “Are you doing a book trailer?” Rather, it was taken as a given that I was doing a book trailer.

With loud grumblings, I went off to YouTube and typed in the keyword “book trailer.” The plethora of book trailers that sprung up was astounding. Some were too long; some were just plain silly and some kept me gripped from the opening slide to the last fading bar of music, enticing me into buying the book out of sheer curiosity.

My path was clear: if I could be tempted into buying a book or two, my novel needed a book trailer of its own. Why don’t you look at my book trailer https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-o0ZluGZ__A and tell me what you think of it?

Hmmmm. Not perfect, but not bad for a first attempt by someone who can’t even hold a video camera steady. So how did I go from not wanting a book trailer to that? Let me share with you:

12 Easy Steps to The Making of a Book Trailer

TAKE ONE: Search Internet for professional book trailer makers. Found professional book trailer producers Circle of Seven. Nearly faint at cost of having a professional book trailer made.

TAKE TWO: Turn to my blogging friends who have created their own book trailers. Friends kindly share their knowledge and information with me. They showed me where I can:

TAKE THREE: Return to my favourite YouTube book trailer and analyse it.

  • How many slides? (9 slides/images)
  • What was the turning point? (slide 5 was climax)
  • How long were the captions? (shortest was 4 words; longest was 12 words)
  • What made it attractive? (the music fitted the words; the slides fading in gave it a professional look)

TAKE FOUR: Realise that the captions sound like a pitch in a query letter. Dig out an early query letter (the one that made numerous agents write back to me and say “I love your story, but haven’t a clue where to market it!”) and strip it to its essentials. Write captions for slides.

TAKE FIVE: Search the image sites until I find the perfect photos. Nearly faint again at the licensing costs (Helpful Hint: look for royalty-free photos; rights-managed photos are ridiculously expensive!) Eventually find acceptable photos that sort-of tie in with the story at a reasonable, but not cheap, cost.

TAKE SIX: Search the music sites. Hit it lucky with the first tune. I found the perfect music! And, at US$19.95, for unlimited use, it’s cheap compared to cost of images!

TAKE SEVEN: Decide it’s time to learn how to use Microsoft’s Power Point programme (necessity makes for a wonderful teacher.) Muddle through the tool bar and screen instructions, inserting photos, captions and figuring out how to get music to play across all slides. (Helpful Hint: before buying your images and music, download the watermarked/preview files. Insert them into a dummy trailer to see how the finished product will look and sound before you spend money on buying stuff that may look good in your imagination, but doesn’t work when displayed in the trailer)

TAKE EIGHT: Admire slideshow and play it over and over again. Conduct a poll on trailer. Send dummy version of PPT slide to family and the lovely ladies of my writing critique group. Family responds, ‘Oh gosh! You did this all by yourself? You’re brilliant! A genius! This will get an Oscar, for sure!’ My writing colleagues (who know this book as well as I do!) respond more sedately, ‘Get rid of slides 1 and 3; they don’t work. The rest work okay.’

TAKE NINE: With more realistic expectations, I return to the image websites. Find alternate images for slides 1 and 3. Change them. Resubmit to writing colleagues and get the thumbs up. Now we’re ready to roll!

TAKE TEN: Waste three hours trying to upload latest version of the PPT slideshow to YouTube, before realising that I’m supposed to convert the PPT slide to a video first and then upload it to YouTube. Bang forehead against computer screen.

TAKE ELEVEN: Google ‘how do you convert a PPT slideshow to video.’ Surprised at the number of ways this can be done. Worry about costs mounting up, but settle on buying a software conversion programme at US$49.95 from https://www.acoolsoft.com/ (they also offer a free version of their PPT-to-video conversion software.)

TAKE TWELVE: The conversion takes less than a minute; getting YouTube to accept my login details takes fifteen minutes; then it’s under two minutes to upload and finally…it’s a wrap!

I have made a book trailer in twelve easy steps. And you can make one too!

book trailers for self-publishers

Judy Croome lives and writes in Johannesburg, South Africa. Her short stories have been published in ITCH magazine and “Notes from Underground Anthology”. She was recently shortlisted in the African Writing Flash Fiction 2011 competition. Her self-published novel, “Dancing in the Shadows of Love”, will be released in May 2011. Visit Judy at her blog www.judycroome.blogspot.com

tbd advanced publishing starter kit


  1. Chris Kridler

    Your steps are nice and simple and will work for just about anyone.

    I’d also recommend considering using moving images to supplement or replace still images. Most computers come with basic movie-making software that’s fairly easy to learn. You can license some clips for similar prices as you would images at sites like pond5.com. And you can shoot some yourself; with today’s phones, you can get high-quality video even if you don’t have a decent camera. Just shoot with intention. I’ve made several trailers in which I’ve shot a lot of the video, but I frequently license a clip or two, along with music. Here’s one example, which I approached like a movie trailer:

    Thanks for the post. I don’t know if movie trailers sell books, but they give us authors an excuse to talk about them!

  2. Jennifer

    Thanks Judy! Look forward to keeping in touch on Twitter :)

  3. Jennifer

    Looked at all the sample trailers. Music really sets the mood. Images tell the story. Judy, I like your addition of the gray background with the images. Gives it another dimension. And thanks for taking time to offer the 12 step plan! Looking for images and music can be quite time consuming. Another alternative for pics is to buy CDs that have pics, fonts, clipart etc. I’m a photographer so I like to use my own when it fits! I used music at http://www.incompetech.com Chose to go with a bit of rock and roll for my book trailers :) And I used Media Impressions which is software with my Kodak ZI8 vid cam. I also use camtasia for some things.

    Nancy I liked your wedding murder story and the text was great!

    Will- fast paced and I liked your mention of multiple platforms etc. Using video clips vs images does present differently, though both can be effective!

    Margreet WOW 100 km impressive. Good job on that and the trailer!

    Sally, I liked the text scrolling in the middle of the images!

    So many possibilities! I just created 3 non-fiction book trailers, 1 company intro, and a webtv show trailer, each different so I could see which one worked the best. They can be seen at Jennifer Darden on Amazon on my profile, my blog https://www.queensvoice.com and the show vid playlists at https://www.thequeensbrandingtour.info Also a fiction writer so enjoyed seeing what you guys produced!

    Thanks everyone for the ideas, education, and inspiration! Its wonderful to connect with other artists :)


  4. Judy Croome (@judy_croome)

    NANCY: I agree – the first time for anything is the hardest!

    TIN2TIN: Thanks for all the links – they’re most helpful! (Wish I’d had them when I made my trailer, would have saved me time!)

    LINSEY: My pleasure. Glad you found the trailer effective. My critique group is the best – very sharp and honest and supportive!

  5. Linsey Lanier

    Judy, thanks so much for this information! What an impressive trailer. It really pulled me in and made me want to read the story. Haunting music, great images. You have a sharp critique group.

    Linsey Lanier Someone Else’s Daughter

  6. tin2tin

    My free open souce slideshow studio called DVD slideshow GUI might be useful for making eBook trailers for free. Music, animated captions, backgrounds, transitions, import of ppt files, upload to YouTube and animation of images can be done in it.

    Here’s the link:

    And there’s a videotutorial(basic functions):

    Ane one on converting Power Point(ppt) to video:

    I hope someone will find it usefull. :)

  7. Judy Croome

    Thanks Sally. As a monarchist through and through, your trailer was exciting to me. The last two slides were powerfully intriguing!
    Judy, South Africa

  8. Sally Nicoll

    Beautifully done – and soon as I am finished with this comment, I shall go and check out your book. In other words, your trailer has had the desired effect. I’d love to know what you think of my book trailer, which is here:
    https://bit.ly/pcifnw I was fortunate enough to know someone who took my script and did a fantastic job bringing it to life. Hope your book does well!

  9. Judy Croome

    Adonna, I actually fell into making my book trailer…it was a case of one step (or one take!) at a time, and as I realised how easy each of the steps were, I tumbled into the next one until I had a trailer (of sorts!) But, as you correctly point out, I learnt an important lesson: perfection is a goal to aim for, not a necessity and, when you’re faced with some new path, you need to keep expectations realistic and sometimes stop before the point of perfection is reached.
    Judy, South Africa

  10. Adonna @ The Author Pro

    I loved this post Judy with the TAKE ONE kind of setup. Your boo-boos & mishaps were even funny (like “Nearly faint again at the licensing costs” and your entire ‘Take Ten’. lol) I have been there and done that myself so I can relate. Its great that you were curious enough to try and create a book trailer yourself.

    So many times writers think that they “can’t do this” or “can’t do that” either because they lack the skills or their publisher hasn’t shown any interest in the activity so they think that they shouldn’t either. In the end, perfection doesn’t matter as much as learning a few new skills that an author needs to promote themselves and their book titles. You don’t have to do it all but you certainly can try a few things yourself.

    Kudos to you for being brave enough to share your trial and error with us. I found it very helpful. May it inspire other writers to take on a PR initiative of their own too. Best of luck with your latest book!

    Adonna Pruette

    Twitter: @PassionMuse
    Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/The-Author-Pro/201469779878301

    • Judy Croome

      Tom, a few days ago I tried to trf the PPS of my book trailer to slideshare, but couldn’t seem to get the audio across. Hmmm. Back to the drawing board for me. I’ll pop over to look at the other site – looks like a bookmark for future reference! Thanks for sharing.
      Judy, South Africa

  11. Judy Croome

    Hilary, Joel’s blog is a fountain of useful information. I’ve spent hours here learning so much and I felt privileged to be able to blog here too. I’m glad you enjoyed the post and the trailer. And, thanks for your always cheerful support!
    Judy, South Africa

    • Joel Friedlander

      Judy, I think you’ve sent a bunch of people off to make their own book trailers, nice going!

      • Judy Croome

        I can’t wait to watch them all, Joel! :)

  12. Hilary

    Hi Joel thanks for hosting Judy and for this great posting with its comments – very interesting reading .. and I definitely know where to come, when I get round to things ..

    Judy – you’ve set it out so clearly; while Will has given us some professional extra direction (always helpful); and on top of that Joel has pointed us in the direction of a 21 point ‘Get your Blog on Amazon Kindle’ ..

    Thanks and the tip from Magreet for subscribing .. always useful information ..

    Thoroughly enjoyed this – cheers and Judy – good luck with book, ebook sales etc .. looks like a wonderful job .. Hilary

    • Judy Croome

      Troy, what a great idea to host a book trailer contest!! I’m clicking the link now to see what those top three trailers looked like.
      Judy, South Africa

    • Judy Croome

      Troy, I’ve just looked at the top three videos! All excellent! The Gatekeeper was my favourite; the story sounds so good.
      Judy, South Africa

  13. Judy Croome

    Helen, after all the help you’ve given me, I’ll be only too pleased to help you with your book trailer!

    (An aside: the second last slide of the trailer is an image of my book cover, the last slide was just the credits – but I wonder why it never showed up when you watched the trailer? I’ll hop over to youtube and check that all is ok!)
    Judy, South Africa

  14. Helen Ginger

    Judy, I’m totally in awe of you. Now that you know how to do it and you do it so well, I plan to hire you if I ever need a book trailer.

    Oh, I watched the book trailer (loved the images and the music), but I would have liked it if you had put a pic of your book at the end. It felt like you had time to do that and it would have reminded viewers of what the cover looks like for when they’re browsing around looking for it.

  15. Pamela Moeng

    Thanks, Judy, for an easy to follow method for producing a book trailer. I particularly appreciated the tips on where to source inexpensive or free photos and music. The software conversion information is also invaluable for a novice. You are a real resource for new authors. I look forward to reading your book and getting more advice from you.

  16. Claire Robyns

    Judy, your 12 steps make it seem a lot easier than I’m sure it was… the result is a beautiful portrayal and gives a lovely sense of what’s to come for the reader.

    • Judy Croome

      Claire, surprisingly it was actually as easy as it sounds. I could hardly believe it myself! The most frustrating part was finding the perfect images and then discovering they were horrendously expensive. Will Entrekin in his comment above has given me some new sources, so hopefully my next book trailer (teaser!) will be more advanced!
      Judy, South Africa

  17. Damaria Senne

    Thanks for sharing, Judy. You’re going to be kindly writer friend I go to when I do my book trailer.

  18. Will Entrekin

    Nice post, and an interesting dozen steps. This is a topic close to my heart; my first post-graduation job was in the broadcast production department of one of the biggest advertising agencies in New York, and I worked on projects for Sting/Jaguar, Sony, and several other huge clients. It was a hugely educational experience.

    I’ve obviously attempted to bring what I learned there over to publishing and making book teasers (I prefer “teaser” to “trailer,” but it’s just personal. Most people don’t know that movie trailers are called that because they used to shown after features, and not before). I’ve also studied screenwriting at USC, so I’ve attempted to use the movie industry as a model, too.

    Rather than buying images, footage, and music, it’s worthwhile to explore Creative Commons options. Flickr and Google both have an advanced search feature by which one can target any given search specifically toward certain licenses. So you can find music people have posted online and which they allow for reuse/modification so long as there is attribution. It’s becoming increasingly common.

    I like your use of images and transitions. I always wrestle with images. I want readers to be free to imagine the characters themselves. It’s a fine balance; I’ve tried not to explicitly note any people as characters.

    For my novel Meets Girl, I made two teasers. The first was very much that, short, text-based, and around a minute long.

    This is the second:

    This is the teaser for my novel The Prodigal Hour, which’ll be out this summer:

    So far as software, Powerpoint and a conversion is one way to go, and I think someone mentioned Windows Movie Maker, but I’ve found a terrific program called Cyberlink Power Director. It’s $100 for an ultra version for 64-bit computers, and it requires a little more skill/knowledge than the other options so far mentioned, but it has an intuitive interface and outputs to full HD video, and I’ve not been disappointed with the results. And I still run version 7 (it’s up to 9).

    • Judy Croome

      Will, what an interesting tidbit about why trailers are called trailers. But I do believe I prefer your name: “book teaser”. That’s a description that sounds far more accurate. I’ll bear in mind the tip about Creative Commons, although the Cyberlink Power Director sounds a bit intimidating for my level of movie making skills.

      Another excellent point you make is preferring to leave the reader free to imagine the character for themselves. As my main protagonist (Lulu) is a Pale One it was a difficult task finding an image that hinted at her difference to others, but was cheap enough to use! That single photo (from clip one) was more expensive than all the others added together and it *still* wasn’t exactly right, but more of a compromise.

      Anyway, off to view your teasers now (which I’m sure will be superb!)
      Judy, South Africa

    • J S

      Here’s a free option, and not a lot of difficult work.

      -make yourself a script of the stages in the ‘mini-story’ you’re trying to tell.

      -grab a bunch of props from around the house
      -put them on a black background
      -use a digital camera down low, without flash, and with macro settings.
      -take a bunch of shots. Pick the best ones. Pick the ones you didn’t use for the book cover.

      -Get some free, open-source software. search for avlinux, ubuntu studio, and artistx as they are full ‘computers on disk’. Burn those to CD/DVD and boot in your computer (extra points if you install them to usb flash drive and run from there). Some of these programs run direct on Windows or Mac; I’ve been running Linux since 2005. If you’re curious how this is all ‘free’ then go to ubuntu.com and read through their very clear and thoughtful information.
      -lmms (music, with instrument sounds)
      -gimp (if you want to modify/crop/enhance the images)
      -openshot (video arranging)
      -inkscape (if you want to improve the titles)


      Are these perfect? No. But they give another depth and medium to interest readers. They don’t cost anything, nor do you have images or music that everyone else can have. You can also brand the video the same theme as the book, in my case I recycled the shots not chosen for the book cover.

  19. Michael N. Marcus

    Sorry, but something with “12 easy steps” sounds too difficult to me. Three or four would be more appropriate numbers.

    I still have emotional scars from upgrading to Microsoft Vista.

    Michael N. Marcus
    — Create Better Books, with the Silver Sands Publishing Series: https://www.silversandsbooks.com/booksaboutpublishing.html
    — “Stories I’d Tell My Children (but maybe not until they’re adults),” https://www.amazon.com/dp/0981661750

    • Joel Friedlander

      You must have missed Steven Windwalker’s classic “Get Your Blog on Amazon Kindle in 21 Easy Steps!”

    • Judy Croome

      Michael, Microsoft Vista is enough to keep a person in therapy for years! The best thing I ever did was upgrade to Windows 7 (but I won’t even talk of the emotional scars I’m carrying from upgrading IE8 to IE9!!!)
      Judy, South Africa

  20. Margreet Dietz

    Joel, I love receiving The Book Designer posts in my inbox.

    Judy, your book trailer looks superb!

    Thought I’d share the trailer I made for my latest book, A Hundred Reasons to Run 100km. I created this trailer, my first, in Windows Movie Maker (a singer-songwriting friend allowed me to use one of his songs).


    Hope you enjoy it.

    Kind regards,

    Author of:
    A Hundred Reasons to Run 100km (March 2011)
    Running Shoes Are a Girl’s Best Friend
    Powered From Within: Stories About Running & Triathlon
    A Work in Progress: Exercises in Writing
    Sunshine on a wooden floor (poems)

    • Judy Croome

      Thanks, Margreet! I had such fun making my book trailer! I’ll pop over to look at your trailer when I’ve finished this reply – and I’ll send the link to my husband’s best friend who has not only done the famous Comrades Marathon ten times (!!), but has also completed the 100-miler (yes, he ran 100 MILES! In one go!!) Unfortunately, I’m one of those who runs around the block and then…I kick it back under the bed!! (I’m a real shock to both my parents who, in their day, were excellent provincial sports players) Anyway, off to view your trailer now…
      Judy, South Africa

  21. Judy Croome

    Sawubona, Joel!
    Thanks for hosting me on your blog. I’ve learnt so much from your blog, I’m pleased to have the opportunity to post here. I hope your readers find my post useful.



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