If you’re writing a visual type of book such as a coffee table book, or perhaps even a picture book, here are some ideas for making an effective book trailer at almost no expense.
I stumbled across this book trailer for the coffee table book Working Dogs, about the dogs that work alongside Australian farmers herding cattle and sheep.
In my opinion, it is a very effective book trailer. I’m measuring the effectiveness by this: I wanted to buy the book after I’d watched it. You can’t ask for more effective than that!
As I evaluated the book trailer afterwards, I realised there were some simple principles behind it that we could all learn from. I hasten to add that I have no connection with this book, and I don’t know exactly how they made the trailer, what equipment they used, etc. I’m just drawing on my own previous experience as a television journalist and producer to break it down and think of how other authors and indie publishers could produce something similar.
This style of trailer where the two authors just chat with each other is very effective because of the type of book it is. It wouldn’t work for everyone. But it reveals the people behind the book in a way that makes this book more desirable.
If they’d been cynics thinking “How can I make a quick buck from my beautiful photography?” then that wouldn’t have been a good thing to show! Instead, it shines through that they love and respect these dogs and their contribution to the lives of real people and the rural economy of their country.
They come across as outback Aussies without pretension, and that also works perfectly for this type of book and the subject matter. Also, the fact that they are bouncing off each other has probably helped them to relax in front of the camera. Someone may have been asking them questions, but the questions aren’t included.
- If you’ve put together a visual book for reasons that come from the heart, don’t be afraid to be yourself if you make a trailer similar to this. There’s no need to try to sound like a newscaster if you’re not.
- If you are an authoring team, this type of chat might work well and help you both relax.
- Alternatively, if you’re a sole author, you could get someone who knows the book well to ask you questions and chat with you, and they don’t even need to be on camera.
- If you use an interview style to get you going, you don’t need to include the questions. Tip: Make sure you leave a short pause before you answer the question… it will be much easier to edit.
- Stories about how a book came into existence can be fun and engaging.
Beware: They quite likely chatted for a while and then carefully selected the best bits. Don’t forget to EDIT the chat you produce! But don’t chat for hours, or you’ll go bonkers trying to find the 3 minutes you want to use. I’d suggest a 15-20 minute chat maximum would probably be ideal for cutting down to 3 minutes.
The setting and props
The setting in a garden and the birdsong in the background work well because of the rural theme of the book.
These authors have two props: a copy of the book… and a working dog! Introducing the woman’s dog is inspired. It not only engages the viewer – who is obviously interested in dogs or they wouldn’t have pressed Play on the trailer in the first place – but it also lends social credibility.
- What backdrop would be relevant to your visual book? If they’re wilderness shots, could you go to a national park? If they’re flowers, could you be in a garden… even holding a flower or explaining some of the flowers? If it’s cityscapes, could you stand on a street corner? (Beware of noise in that case; you might need a neck mic rather than just the one on the camera.) Think about the theme.
Obviously, the photography in this type of book is what’s going to sell it. And it’s a gift in terms of the visual appeal, because the digital images themselves can just be cut straight into the video.
- Remember that the viewer of your trailer doesn’t have to be looking at you talking the whole time. You can overlay your chat with those images that your book is all about.
- Don’t be afraid to show them what they’re getting. When we buy a visual book in a shop, we flick through it and look at the photos first, and it doesn’t stop us from buying!
The technicalities for making something similar
As I mentioned, I don’t claim to know exactly how these people made it or what equipment they used, and since they’re photographers they may well have had a rather posh camera! But breaking it down, this is a way we could make a similar trailer for ourselves.
- Author/s standing or sitting comfortably in front of a suitable background with minimal inappropriate noise distraction round about them.
- Light is what cameras live off, so make sure you think about the light you’re using, even if it’s coming straight from God. 😉
- Note that they’ve either done it on an overcast day, or in a shady area, which has made the shadows on their faces much softer and more flattering.
- If your book is about something hard-edged, maybe harsher lighting might work, but always do a test run and think about how the light is modelling your face and how that displays you and reflects on your theme.
- It’s just sitting there on a tripod. It’s a pretty static shot.
- But is IS on a tripod. Not being held in someone’s wobbly hands imitating Blowfly Cam. 😉
- Whoever is operating the camera may or may not have zoomed in at times, but in fact you wouldn’t need to – you could zoom it when you edit it. And the static nature of the shot doesn’t matter at all in this case, because the photo images are what counts, and they move.
- Don’t imagine you need a big fancy camera to get something that will do the trick, because it doesn’t need to be enormous resolution for the web. I’ve got a nice DSLR camera but I’ve been using my iPhone for all sorts of things since I discovered the online course iPhone Video Hero, where a television director shows us how to get professional-looking video out of our phones. (I’m very pleased to be an affiliate for it, it’s a great course for people with iPhones & iPads!)
- The images are of course paramount because it’s a visual book. And they could simply be inserted as digital files to overlay the chat when you edit the video. I’ve done this myself before in iMovie and it wasn’t hard, and whatever video editing software is on your computer would most likely let you do it too.
- That movement of zooming and/or panning in the still images can be achieved with the Ken Burns Effect, which is also available in iMovie, and it’s probably in your video editing software too. Easy.
Have you made a book trailer? Or are you thinking about it? Tell us your ideas and discoveries!
Featured image via Bigstock/Scanrail.