Today I thought I'd talk a little about the creative process that went into creating my book trailer. (It's over there on my sidebar, if you want to watch it, like it, share it, ya know, all that kind of fun stuff :) There are a billion blog posts out there on this topic if you google it, but everyone has their own method, and considering I'm starting from scratch, working in a foreign country, on a netbook, with a limited budget, well, if I can overcome all these obstacles and still put something together, you can too! And because I'm a big fan of lists, here we go:
- Decide if you're willing to put in the time. There are so many places that will create a trailer for you for a minimal cost (ask me and I can direct you to a few of them). So if you're worried at all about doing this yourself it might behoove you to pay the money. BUT, I think you can do a better job if you're willing to invest the time. Why? Because it's your book. You know it inside and out. Therefore you can sell it best. It will take some time, so be prepared.
- Figure out what tone you want to convey. Is your book dark and mysterious? You might want something to show that in your trailer. Funny and amusing? Do something funny in your trailer. The best way to figure out what you want to do, and how to pull off that feeling is to WATCH A TON OF OTHER TRAILERS. Go to YouTube and start surfing. There are tons and tons. Decide what you think works best and put your thinking cap on!
- Plan out what you want to say. Basically, this is creating an outline. Write out a script, making notes on what kinds of images/video clips you are looking for. This may change later, as all drafts do, but you'll want to have something in mind before you start wading through the sea of clips and images out there.
- Start looking for images. Googling "free stock photos" and "free stock video clips" will give you tons and tons of sites. Many are not actually free. Many only have really crappy images/clips for free. What I actually ended up doing was signing up for www.VideoBlocks.com who gives you unlimited downloads for seven days before they charge your card. This is not generally something I like to do, but their website had tons of great clips and music. So long as you cancel your membership before the 7 days, you can keep everything you download. (It's super easy to cancel, too.) The other place I went was StockFootageForFree.com which had some really good images I pulled. I didn't pay for a single image I used in my trailers.
- Be sure to read the fine print! Using some clips or images requires citing the artist, so make sure you do that.
- Put it all together. You've gotten the basics of your trailer together, but how does that become the actual trailer? That's where Windows Movie Maker comes in, if you're on a window's machine. It's a great program and very easy to use (it reminds me a lot of working with PowerPoint). Mac also has some easy to use software that is either native on your system, or easily downloaded.
- What if you're on an old machine with limited computing power? Like, say, a netbook? I actually didn't even use Movie Maker, because my netbook couldn't handle it. Instead, I turned to some of the online websites that allow for movie making. YouTube has a program to make videos which works great by all reports I read. I used www.WeVideo.com for mine, which worked quite well. It doesn't have all the bells and whistles of a software package, but if you're coming into this without an experience, you may actually rather have something simple to make your life easier.
- Read the instructions for the program you use. Sounds obvious, right? Well, I'll confess that I started messing around and ended up having to make a bunch of changes later, which was really annoying. Read, watch the videos, learn a little before jumping in to explore the program.
- Spend the money for the extra storage space. This is where my $5 came into play. Video clips are huge in terms of memory, so I paid for some extra space on WeVideo in order to upload everything I wanted to use. You could probably get away without doing this, depending on what you're doing, but I didn't think $5 for a month of more storage and all was that bad of a deal.
- Don't forget the music! Music sets the tone, the feeling, the real oomph of your video, so pick something that not only conveys what you're trying to get across, but is also interesting. Don't be afraid to add in a few additional sound effects, too.
- Don't get too fancy. There are tons of random transitions, fade-ins, effects, etc. that you can use. Just because they are there doesn't mean you should use them all. Pick a general theme that's simple and stick with it throughout the show. (This is the same thing that goes for PowerPoint--if your slides are doing random little tricks throughout, no one's actually going to read them.)
- Watch the video. Then watch it again. I think I must have watched mine from beginning to end at least a hundred times or more. Tweak it, fix stuff, make it as shiny as you can. Because once it's out there, that's it!
- Get a critique. Have other people watch your creation and make sure it all makes sense, flows well, has a font that isn't annoying as all get-out (*guilty*). Let someone you trust and respect help you out. Not someone that's going to just say it looks awesome and leave it at that, either.
- Let it marinate. Give it a day or two, or longer, to not look at it. Come back later to see if it works. You'll undoubtedly be making a few changes.
- Publish! Post your trailer on YouTube (be sure to tag it and write a description. Starting your own channel is a good idea, too), and the myriad of other sites that promote trailers. This is something I've only just started doing, but it's definitely the way to get the word out about your book through your trailer.
There were several times during this process that I really wondered why on earth I wasn't just paying someone to create the thing for me. But, I stuck it out, got some help, and ended up pulling together something that, while not perfect, is kind of fun. And, in case you missed it the first time: