Creating Book Trailers

*Taken from a series of articles on the CAN Marketing Blog

This week I want to write to you about creating book trailers. Do you make it yourself or hire a professional? How much time and knowledge is required? Is it worth the marketing dollars spent? As usual, I don't have all the answers, but what I can do is tell you what I did and why . . . and then try to explain if it has been worth it.

When I signed on for a three-book series with Zondervan in 2008, I considered various approaches to marketing--one of them whether to create a book trailer. At the time, it seemed like a very "hot" item and many authors were doing them.
I spent hours viewing different book trailers and noted which ones I liked and why, as well as what I didn't care for in others. I also made note of who created the trailer. Let me tell you, there are a lot of lovely trailers out there. And a few of them were created by individuals using iMovie or Windows Movie Maker. How would I ever decide what was best for me?
Oh, little engine, this hill looks mighty tall. I don't think I can climb this mountain.

I'd read enough online to know that it would take a great deal of time to make a trailer myself. However, I did have the option of hiring a friend who had been playing with home movies for several years and was interested in doing more. And yes, I'd been warned not to go the cheaper route, but after much thought and study, I decided to work with my friend and create a trailer ourselves. Because neither of us had done anything like this before, there was a major learning curve involved, but it also proved to be a great opportunity for expanding our knowledge.

Chug, chug, chug. I think I can, I think I can.
One of the first things you want to do is envision what you want for a trailer. There are a lot of trailers out there that simply scroll over the book cover while someone tells a brief blurb of the story. There are also those with still shots, those that have been filmed, or a combination of both. There are those that use scrolling words and those that have a speaker. 
Before you tackle this project, brainstorm your ideas. I knew I wanted my secondary character, John McCray, to tell the story about his son and the veterinarian who was like a daughter to him. I also had an idea of the music--something heart stirring yet almost forlorn--that reminded me of a horse running across the prairie.
I also knew that I wanted a combination of scrolled words mixed in with the speaker's words, fade-out pictures as well as film. And then came the actual writing of the script--which surprisingly, came to me very quickly.

We filmed part of the trailer ourselves, but there are places online to find free music and pictures. However, most of those places didn't have exactly what we were looking for so we opted to pay a minimal fee to get just the right effect we were looking for.

Free music:

Music for a fee (and the place we went for our music):

Free photos:

Royalty free photos (where we went for pictures):

The making of the trailer proved to be more of a challenge, mostly because my friend and I were inexperienced. We had many trial runs, a couple where we had to start over from scratch. But the end effect turned out quite beautiful and I am very pleased with it. Check it out at the top of this blog.

Now for the ultimate question--was the marketing dollars worth it in the end? I cannot in all honesty say that it has been that effective. Before my book came out, I had a few opportunities to show the trailer to two test audiences and that may have prompted a few people to order my book. Since then, most of the feedback I've received online has been from people who have read my book and then visited my website afterwards to view the trailer. And they have loved the trailer.

I think this is the answer you'll hear from most authors. We simply have no way to track book trailers to sales. Am I satisfied? -- Yes, I am. I have a beginning trailer for my book series for readers to watch and hopefully prompt them to read the series.

Will I make a trailer for all my books? No. I didn't make one for Seeds of Summer, nor am I planning one for Blades of Autumn. However, if I should get a contract on book 4, I have ideas of creating a trailer that encompasses the entire Seasons of the Tallgrass series. And I think I would consider creating a trailer for the first in any series I write. 

If you don't have the desire to take on the challenge of creating a trailer yourself, here is a list of professionals who create book trailers:

Oh, and once you have a book trailer, do your research and take the time to upload your trailer onto your website and/or blog as well as the many different sites available to help promote it, such as:,, and

Next week, I'll write about promotional items you might want to invest in. Until then, keep chugging up those hills . . .