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Archive for December 30th, 2012

Guest Blogger: Ann Jacobs
Sunday, December 30th, 2012

Book Videos—are they worth it?

Impressive if they’re done right, book trailers may be a valuable tool to grab attention for a new release. I’m not certain they translate directly into increased sales—but then I haven’t found a way to determine whether any of my promotional efforts directly affect my bottom line. Still, I like trailers.

They can be pricey, though—particularly if live video is done by skilled professionals. Purchased trailers using stock photos and inexpensive music tracks can still cost upward of $150—a lot upward depending on the graphic artist/promotion company that you use, as well as the cost of photos and music the artist chooses.

Recently I discovered Windows Live Movie Maker (free from Microsoft) and found how simple it is to produce simple videos using it, from start to upload. The only other software I use to size, crop and modify stock photos—and occasionally to create a fancy text sign or two—is Adobe Photoshop. (It’s certainly not free or inexpensive, but I already had it. If I had needed to buy something simply to do these functions, not to play with for my own amusement, I would get Photoshop Elements or use one of the many free software selections online to perform these functions.)

So I can make my own book trailers. What materials do I need to make them?

  1. Book cover—the tone of the trailer needs to reflect the cover art since it’s     generally included as the beginning and/or ending frame.
  2. Some background music. I troll the web looking for free—or royalty-free—MP3s that reflect the tone of my books: dark, lively, romantic, etc. When I find free ones, I download them for possible future use.
  3. The story I want to tell in the video. I usually follow the content of blurbs I’ve already written for the book, which saves time and effort that it takes to select the photos and write the text.
  4. Some stock photos, either free (preferable) or royalty-free. (For a one-minute video, you’ll need the book cover and five to seven photos that illustrate the text on each frame. If you can’t find a suitable photo, you can write text on a blank screen and apply a text effect to it.)
  5. A few hours (how many depends on how much you play with your story line and how much you decide to crop/modify your images—the sample above, for my upcoming book, WILD ONE, has three frames that I created in Photoshop to use more than one image on a frame and to add fancy text. It took a while!)

Over the course of eight or nine months, I’ve accumulated a bulging folder full of stock photos, most of which I’ve found for free. I’ve bought and stockpiled a few Jimmy Thomas RNC cover shots and cropped them for use in trailers. And I’ve taken and filed away a lot of photos that I’ve taken, but I won’t use those that include people or readily identifiable landmarks unless I have releases—I don’t care to get sued.

Making book trailers is fun, a nice break from writing words. Since I write mostly contemporaries, putting videos together for them isn’t too stressful because I’ve been able to find a lot of free material that works to illustrate particular frames of my books. I doubt it would be nearly as easy to locate trailer material for historicals because of costuming and so on. If I wanted to do a video for a futuristic or a shifter story, I’d probably have to create many of the frames from scratch—something that would require a lot more graphic art skill than I have.

Happy trailering! Video trailering, that is! 🙂

Ann Jacobs
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WILD ONE, book 3 of my Caden Kink series, coming Jan. 4 at Ellora’s Cave Publishing