The Basics of the Book Trailer

Steph_2 copy (2)This post by Stephanie Stamm.

When I first heard about video trailers for books, I thought the concept sounded odd. We’re talking books, right? Words on a page. Why advertize a book with a movie? But the more I thought about it, the more sense it made. Then I watched a few—and I was sold. We all love movies, and video trailers offer a great way to use images and music to create teasers for our books. Plus, they’re a lot of fun to make, giving us authors yet another way to exercise our creativity.

Check out this Halloween appropriate example, the trailer for Ransom Riggs’ Hollow City, the sequel to Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children.

Kind of creepy, huh? Makes me want to read the book.

Software like iMovie (iPad), Windows Movie Maker (PC), Microsoft Photo Story or applications like Animoto make it easy to create your own videos. (See this post for additional information.) I’ve used Animoto for the trailers I’ve created—and while it takes some time, the hard part is choosing/creating the materials, not using the application.

So what do you need to make a book trailer?

  • Pictures and/or video
  • Text
  • Music

I suggest starting with your text, your teaser. When I made the first trailer for A Gift of Wings, I started with pictures. Mistake. Once I got the teaser hammered out, I realized I could only use a few of the pictures I’d chosen, and I also needed others I hadn’t thought to look for. So, yeah, start with your text. Once that’s written, you can decide what images you want to go with it.

You can use your own photos or video, find inexpensive stock photos or videos, or use images in the public domain or licensed for free through Creative Commons. Wikimedia is a great source of images—just be sure to credit the source as indicated. Also make sure to include your book cover among the images you use.

If you are using an application like Animoto, once you have your text and images, you’re ready to go. Simply tell it you want to create a new video. Then upload your pictures, choose a style, choose your music, and you’ve got a video. You can add your teaser text as captions to the photos or insert the text separately. And you can preview the video as often as you want, with different styles and different music selections, until you find the ones that fit. You can also change the settings to slow the video down or to speed it up, as needed.

Animoto offers several different options at varying costs. With the free option, you can create a 30 second video. If you subscribe—and you can subscribe for as little as $5.00 for a single month, if you want—you can create longer videos and choose from a larger selection of styles and music.

Once your video is created, you can download it, upload it to YouTube and Vimeo, post it on your website, Goodreads, and your Amazon author page. It provides one more bread crumb that can help readers find your book. (Check out this blog post for other ways you can use your book trailer.)

Here’s the trailer I created for A Gift of Shadows, which will be released in December.

What do you think about book trailers? Do you like to watch them? Have you created your own? If you have created your own, how did you do it?


Connect with Stephanie Stamm:





Stephanie Stamm is the author of the New Adult/Young Adult urban fantasy A Gift of Wings(The sequel, A Gift of Shadows, will be released Dec. 10, 2014.)




She has also contributed stories (one fictional and one true) to the following volumes:

Undead of Winter Front Only Into the Storm Cover


23 thoughts on “The Basics of the Book Trailer

  1. Very helpful post. I’ve got to try out a trailer when I finally get my third novel of the trilogy done. Close but quite a bit of editing to still do. I take it Animoto has music offerings… I assume it costs quite a bit to get permission to use music from a song.


    1. Thanks, Mike! Yes, Animoto has a pretty large selection of music–of various styles, with words or instrumental. You can upload your own if you have the rights to it. I don’t own the rights to any music, so I’ve used Animoto’s. Just like with photos and videos though, I think there are sites where you can find royalty free music. I haven’t explored that though.


  2. Great post Stephanie. I’ve had the videos made for my first two books, but am sure I can do it myself now with everything that’s out there. I think book trailers definitely sell books. There’s something about seeing what the book will be with a visual teaser and I know mine drove up sales. Thank you for all the info. I have a friend who also uses Animoto to produce all her book trailers – she finds it easy to use.


    1. It would be kind of fun to do one with live action if you know someone skilled with video or a film school student who wants a project. But, in the absence of that, Animoto works well, I think. I do like watching them too. They can do a really good job communicating the feel of the book.


    2. Thanks, Linda! I think it would be fun to experiment with live action too. Maybe someday I’ll look for a film student and some acting students who want a project. In the meantime, Animoto works well. I like watching the trailers. They can do a good job communicating the feel of a book, can build emotion.


  3. I have a love/hate relationship, probably due to working in the film industry. Still I applaud additional ways to get the message out, and let’s face it, we are a visual society, especially younger folk. Great post. Doris


    1. Thanks, Doris! Yeah, they probably do appeal to the younger crowd more. I found several sites with information about students creating trailers. It sounds like kids are creating their own trailers for favorite books as part of their classes. I knew some of them did it as fans, but I didn’t know it was sometimes a class activity.


  4. Because of my visual impairment, book trailers and I don’t play nice. I can’t always see the images or read the text. It’s possible to produce them with voiceover that reads everything, but that’s more expensive. However, I have some extra money from the sale of my father’s house so maybe I’ll invest in a trailer for my latest poetry collection.


  5. I have a trailer for Shadowlands that my publisher did. Don’t love it, don’t hate it, it just is. I think the next time around I’ll do this part of the process on my own. 🙂 Great post,


  6. Your nook yrailers are lovelu. I have a couple done as well. I wanted to use aa old song, but it on my video and Amazon kicked it off. They tried to kick another one off, but I had just bought it, so they couldn’t. Now ai guess I’ll choose from creative commons music too. I didnt have much trouble kaking mine. It is another tool for advertising.


    1. Thank you for your kind words about my trailers. I had a lot of fun putting them together. I understand there’s a lot of royalty free music out there that you can use. Animoto will let you upload your own music, but you have to have own the rights to it.


  7. Great trailer , Stephainie, and l ove the animated flames. I’ve used W Movie Maker for all of mine and have a love/ hate relationship when making them. I get excited but I’m also frustrated when I don’t feel the text is fitting the music properly. I’m a stickler, though, and keep at it – sometimes it takes hours to get it just perfect (for me anyway) I haven’t masterd beyond the static frames, yet, but maybe someday. I am very careful like you are about using properly accredited music and images. You can’t be too careful or a lawsuit might come yoru way.


    1. Thanks, Nancy! I haven’t been brave enough to try filming my own videos. So far, uploading the static shots into Animoto works well for me. The flames are part of their “Inferno” style, which worked really well for this trailer.


  8. I really shied away from even attempting to do my own trailer…not being as computer savvy as I should be (although I’ve come a long way over the last couple of years…so maybe there’s hope :). Nancy, you put me to shame with your patience and perseverance 🙂 This is a great post, Stephanie, thank you.


    1. Thank you, Sandy! I’m glad you found it helpful. Animoto does really make it easy. It just takes me a long time to do them, because, like Nancy, I’m something of a stickler.


  9. I haven’t gotten into trailers for my books as yet, partly because I never watch them myself. (Hate info where I have to watch a video instead of reading about it. Old fogey, I know.) Who does watch them? Where/how do you use them?

    I know I should probably use them because as someone else said, videos are really popular. The funny thing is I have created instructional videos for horse topics that needed visuals. But I dislike advertising ones.


    1. That’s interesting, Kate. I think younger people really like the trailers. They sometimes make them for books they love, and I even found some information about classes where students were asked to create video trailers for books they were reading. Trailers seem to have become kind of standard. I don’t really know how much they influence sales. I haven’t done that kind of research.


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