Sunday, July 13, 2008

An Idiot's Guide to Book Trailers

Sigh, book trailers, an author's new night mare. You can't live with them and you can't live without them. As a video newbie, I thought I'd share some of the things I learned making my trailer for my new romantic suspense, THE TWIST.

If you are computer challenged like me,making a video is alot easier than building a website. They take a lot of time but they’re kind of fun to do. It’s sort of like making a scrapbook, except instead of choosing the mounts and page color, you pick transitions and background music.

All picture show software seems to work about the same. I downloaded several freebies off the net with some neat effect and transitions, but ended up using Microsoft Movie Maker (MM). The nice thing about MM is it has some audio editing capability. The freebies off the net either didn’t have audio, or it was awkward to add it to the video file. MM comes bundled with Microsoft XP, so you probably have it on your computer and don’t even know it.

Put all of the pictures and audio tracks you plan to use in a common file on a thumb drive before you start. MM creates its own working file but looks to the ORIGINAL location of the source files each time you open a project. If you are switching between computers, it will really cause you problems unless you keep the source files in the same location.

Back up often. I have run MM on two different desktop PC’s and two different laptops. It locks up often, usually at the worst time. Back up often. Did I say to back up often :)

Lay down your basic video track. Keep the text short and simple. It has high impact that way and keeps the viewer guessing. You should shoot for 60-90 seconds so you don’t lose your viewers attention. They tell me text should be displayed for as long as it takes for you to read it out load. Be sure to have a good ten second display of your contact information.

Now comes the fun part; adding music to your video! I strongly recommend that you use registered music. It is more professional than stealing a popular song that everyone knows you don’t have rights to. There are plenty of good inexpensive/free tracks on the net. I like Kevin MacLeod’s work. He only asks for credit and an optional $5 donation. Kevin has hundreds to choose from on his website and the music is arranged by mood with brief description, orchestration and sound bite. Here’s a link to his site:

It starts to get a bit tedious then because you need to play with the video images, effects, transitions and timing so you can synch the video with high points in the audio track. I like to use common subtle transitions at similar breaks in the video and only use shocking transitions where I want to add drama. Use a simple fade unless you have a need for a more dramatic transition. This can take a lot of time. You may need to clip the front or back of the audio to get things to synch up. It will be worth the effort when you see the final video :)

Well, that’s about everything I know. Good Luck & have fun!


Lee Silver
Romance with a Twist
THE TWIST, Now on Siren-BookStrand's Bestseller's List


Sheila said...

I think you did a wonderful job on your video Lee!
The music gave it a sense of urgency so it felt exciting.
The words were up there long enough to read everything easily.
Good job!


Lindsay Townsend said...

Great video, Lee and great explanation!
Best, Lindsay

Lee Silver said...

Thank you so much for your kind words! You get sort of bleary eyed putting one of these together and can't really tell if it's any good til you pull it all together. I'm glad you all could learn from my dumb mistakes :)


Lee Silver
"Romance with a Twist"
THE TWIST, BookStrand #1 Bestseller