Are video trailers for books worthwhile? Do they sell more books? Do they increase interest?
Fellow author Christopher Lynch believes a trailer can make all the difference. He made a professional trailer (at no small cost) for his first book One Eyed Jack. He credits the trailer for his getting a film deal.
But what about the rest of us with limited budgets? Do we need video trailers to call attention to our books? Probably not, but I make them for all of our books. I create them ‘quick-and-dirty’ by using PowerPoint and Microsoft Movie, two programs already on my computer. So can you. How?
Make a PowerPoint Presentation
Years ago when I got my first copy of PowerPoint, I asked my goddaughter to teach me to use it. She said, “It’s the easiest program in the world. Just start using it. You’ll figure it out.” She was right. It is one of the easiest programs to use. If you can’t figure it out, ask a ten-year-old to show you how or watch one of the many free tutorials online.
Choose Your Images
The first, of course is the book cover. If you are using a cover provided by your publisher, you might want to get their permission to use the image. But most publishers realize the trailer may bring additional attention to the book, and therefore, more sales.
What other images would help tell the story? Make sure you have the right to use the images before you include them. Most of ours include photos we took ourselves or drawings we created or free images. (You can find these online.) The number of images I use depends on the story.
For Ghost Writer, I used quite a few. The story involved a black-and-white Shih Tsu who goes from pampered pooch to ragamuffin during the story. I asked a friend who owns a gorgeous little dog who was the inspiration for the one in the story if I could use pictures of Casey in the trailer. She agreed.
Then another friend walked a scruffy one for the elderly owner. We took Precious down to the beach for a run and took lots of photos of her. They became the images on the video. I found most of the other images free online.
However for Larry’s sci-fi books in The McGregor Chronicles series, I only used the cover, some of his sketches (included in the back material in the books) and NASA star field images. These are in the public domain.
Choose Your Words
I usually use the back cover description. This is often the same as the description for the book listing on Amazon. I sometimes have to elaborate on this in order to have enough words to create a long enough trailer. You can also create a PowerPoint with only images and narrate it. This entails an additional step, and I’m basically lazy, so I don’t do it.
Assemble the PowerPoint
Intersperse the images with words. Make sure you have at least 18 slides, but more will work. At the end, be sure to repeat the book title, and credit the author, editor, publisher, etc.
When it is complete, save the file as a PowerPoint and then Save As a JPG file. You will be prompted to save one image or every slide. Choose every slide. They will be stored in a separate folder on your computer. I save the PowerPoint and slide file in the same folder as my book files. With so many different books, it’s the only way I can keep track of them.
Create the Movie
Open Microsoft Movie and select Add Videos and Photos. Browse to the folder with all the JPG images. Highlight all of them and import them. If any of the slides has many words, copy it and place it next to the duplicate. This will cause the slide to run longer so the words can be read.
This step may be the most challenging. If you publish a video using copyrighted material, YouTube may remove it. We have over 12,000 songs in our iTunes library, most from old CDs and converted from cassette tapes. We also have some from Japan, which are not available for purchase in the US. You can also find free music online. Just make sure to use a clip around two minutes or less, or one you can cut to that length.
Click the little note Add Music and insert the clip. (If you are taking the clip from iTunes, right click the song and select Show in Widows Explorer. Follow the path to browse to the correct song.) Edit the clip to the place where you want it to end and cut it, if necessary.
Click the Project Tab and select Fit to Music. The slides will automatically fit themselves to the music you have chosen.
Preview Your Video
Play the video to make sure everything works as it should. You may need to change the music, add or delete slides, or make other adjustments. When you are satisfied with your result, Save it. Then Save Movie for Computer. This file will be converted to an actual video file and saved to your My Videos folder. Last, Publish your video to YouTube.
When the video is available on YouTube, you will receive an email notice. Share the video on social media, and embed it on your website.
To see all of ours, go to our website www.lornalarry.com and click the link for each book. The video will appear on the book’s page.
Think you may try your hand at creating your own videos? If the task seems too daunting, companies exist who will create them for you.
I come back to the original question: do they increase sales? The jury is still out on that one. Do they increase visibility? Maybe. Once you’ve done a couple they are fun to make, and that’s why I keep doing them.
Are you an author who has videos for your books? What is your take?