MARKETING MONDAY: Making a Kick-Ass Book Trailer

Posted March 18, 2013 by Julie in Marketing, self-publishing / 0 Comments


I skipped Marketing Monday last week – sorry.  I was finishing up a new book and that sucked all the life out of me.  Since the last post I did was on cover art and artists, this week I thought I’d shed some light on how I make a book trailer.

I know what you’re thinking – book trailers suck, they’re boring, and they have no bearing on sales.

Maybe.  That might all be true, but if you have a good one, it sets you apart.  If a book I like has a trailer I really enjoy watching it and I’m going to show you two examples as trailers that have stuck out for me.  Now, maybe this new adult genre is not your cup of tea, and both of these are NA romances, so bear that in mind.

I like the Recalled one because it was so on point for what that book was about.  I loved the snow actually – and that is something that is so easy to add, it’s sick.

The VAIN trailer captivated me because I had already read the book when I watched it and in this case it was the music that I loved.  In addition, this writer (Fisher Amelie) used one of the most dramatic moments of the story and wrapped the trailer around it.  It worked for me. I watched it several times in a row, that’s how much I liked it.


I think both of these trailers help the author sell the idea of their book.  Maybe they don’t sell books, but they sell the idea behind the book, and that’s really all you can ask for.

I’m pretty sure neither of these trailers were made using Adobe After Effects so it just goes to show you, my way (which does use AE) is not the only way to go.  You could use any video production software.

I make my trailers like little movie intros, mostly because I buy AE templates that are created for this purpose.  I’m going to use the new video I just made for RANGE to illustrate this post, mostly because I took screen shots as I was making it, so I have that available.  I will freely admit it took me months to make a final decision on which template to use.  I collected dozens of them in my bookmarks for VideoHive—this is where I buy them at because they are cheap and they have a LOT of very good designers over there.

So click the image to go watch how this trailer template looked when I bought it.

 photo inkslide template AE

When I’m choosing a template I look at length first.  I like them to be about a minute or so, that gives me enough room to put in an intro and an ending to promote the book.

One thing I will caution you about is the choice of music.  Sometimes the templates come with sound effects and music, but most don’t.  Sometimes the designers will link to the music they used over at AudioJungle and it’s easy to buy.  I almost never use the music the designer uses, but for my newest book trailer (TRAGIC) I actually did because it was very specific.

Anyway,  I chose this piece for my video, then I cut it down, cut out the parts I didn’t like using Audacity (which is a free program) and made sure the music fit with what was happening in the video.

 photo cut_paste_audacity_song_zps729e7c84.jpg

This was the biggest problem I had with choosing a template for this trailer.  I wanted another template very badly – this one – but it had a weird run time and after (literally) days of searching for the right music, I couldn’t find anything that fit, so I gave up and decided on the ink template.

Once you get the music and template, the rest is easy.  At VideoHive, almost all of the templates come with instructions.  The more instructions they have, the more difficult the project.  If a template has video instructions, you’ll want to steer clear of that one if you’re an AE beginner.  That generally means the project is very extensive.  For example, the Christmas video (see below) I did with all the bobble-head characters had quite a few instructional videos.


That was a huge project for 1 minute of run time.  And the rendering alone took about 16 hours each time and while I don’t have the best computer, it’s fairly high end as far as graphics and processing power goes (or at least it was last year when I purchased it). So keep rendering time in mind when you choose a template. The INK template took a little over an hour to render, which is not bad.

 photo renderAE_zpsdcd5436c.jpg

Most of the templates will tell you how long it takes to render.  Also, make sure you buy a template that REQUIRES NO PLUG-INS that is very important because if the template needs Trapcode and all that stuff, you won’t even be able to open it if all you have is After Effects.

So then you simply open up your template in AE, read the instructions from the designer, and drop in your images and change the text around.  This trailer for the RANGE book took me a couple hours once I started working on it and it rendered in a few hours.  I resized all my images to fit the video dimensions inside the template, but you don’t have to.  It’s pretty easy to drop in the photos and rearrange them inside the frame.

 photo AE_Range2_zps7e91e58b.jpg

 photo AE_Range_zps37b8861d.jpg

Also, make sure any video you add to your AE template is the same format – 1080 HD or 720 HD.  I’m no expert on this, but it matters, so just make sure you think about that when you’re choosing stock videos and your AE template.

Almost all of the templates allow you to switch out videos with images.  I’ve never come across one that wasn’t interchangeable, but I always make sure the template says videos and/or images as far as how many placeholders it has.

Another tip – keep your text short and sweet.  I tend to want to write a lot of copy for the video, and I usually start out that way, but I realize real quick that I need to cut it all down to a few words for each text placeholder.

Most of the time I do not add sound until after the video is rendered and I do that in Adobe Premiere, when I make the final video.  For the TRAGIC video (which I can’t show you because it’s being revealed next Monday) I DID render it with sound because it came with camera shutter sound effects keyed into the exact spot where the camera “took a picture”, and since I decided to use the music the designer used to make the template, I just stuck it in at the same time.

I also buy a separate template for an intro.  For the TRAGIC trailer I had this shatter logo reveal – which I replaced with the name of my book.  And at the end of the video I always make a little graphic with release day info and stuff like that.

Click the image to see the video of the logo reveal I used for the RANGE trailer.  photo logo_bang_zpse10641c7.jpg

The RANGE trailer has a combination of video superimposed over/under partly transparent images for each image placeholder.  I combined these two elements inside Adobe Premiere before I dropped them into AE and it was pretty easy and this extra detail makes the whole trailer a lot more interesting.

After you render the final AE video (export it at a QuickTime video at highest quality), then you drop that into Adobe Premiere, add your sound, intro, and final scene to the timeline, and export that for the final product.  Again, I export at QT movie, but you can use whatever file type you want.


And that’s pretty much it.  Upload it to YouTube and embed on your website.  🙂

I hope this helps, I realize AE has a steep learning curve and after making eight videos with it, I think I have the general hang of using templates, but I’m not an expert.  I never took an AE class, I just messed around with it until I got things the way I liked them.  So if you’re into learning software that way, you can do this too.  It makes your book trailer stand out and that makes you look good!


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