Making a Book Trailer

There is a first time for everything. We learn from experience.

This past April was the first time I made a book trailer. There were a couple of bumps along the road, like not knowing I needed a permit to film in Armstrong Park (see tip #8) and working with a pot-bellied pig (tip #9). Then there is that book release date faux pas (tip #7). For the most part, however, the process was smooth. If you plan to make a trailer, here are ten helpful tips.

  1. Study book trailers from your genre online. I’d never paid attention to book trailers. In fact, I had only seen the one for Wonder, which I loved. So, my first step was to view trailers from an assortment of children’s books. I noted length, types of illustrations or videos, script, music, mood, etc.
  2. Write the script. After watching several trailers, I wrote the script. I decided the narrator should be Wyatt, the young protagonist in The Case of the Left-hand Trombone. The script is written in first person from his point of view. Length was kept to less than sixty seconds. It is not a synopsis of the story, but a teaser to capture the viewer’s interest. Characters, setting, and story-line are introduced.
  3. Hire a videographer. You probably want to keep costs to a minimum as I did. Check universities or high schools in your area for a student who might want to do your video. My neighbor, the owner of the pig, knew someone who had just graduated from film school. Andre kindly agreed to take on the job for the experience.
  4. Decide on the music. Unless you use music that is in the public domain, be very careful about copyright laws. For original music, check with relatives, friends, or a local school to see if you can find someone who wants to compose the score for you. My son Matthew is a musician, and he composed what I think is the perfect tune for a New Orleans pig.
  5. Choose a narrator for the voice-over. Check local schools and community theater groups. I needed a young boy to narrate the trailer. My grandson attends an elementary school that has a talented-in-theater program. I contacted the theater teacher about the possibility of using a student. She introduced me to the parents of a child who was interested. Through emails, I received written permission from the parents to record the child’s voice-over at the school in the theater classroom.
  6. Credits. Be sure to credit everyone who helped with the video, and don’t forget to credit your publisher.
  7. Don’t put the release date in the trailer. I should have known from experience that a book’s release date is a moving target. When we made the trailer, The Case of the Left-hand Trombone was scheduled for release in December 2019. The date has been moved up to October 1. Next time, I won’t put any time-sensitive information in a trailer.
  8. Take business cards with you to the shoot. Cards come in handy when introducing yourself to personnel in the venues where you plan to film. I was able to get a last minute permit at Armstrong Park when we arrived with video camera and pig in costume as the official was opening the gate. Also, you’ll probably meet people who are curious about what you are filming. It’s a great opportunity to promote the book. Wilbur attracted a crowd, and I was really happy I had brought cards.
  9. W. C. Fields was half-right. Working with Grant, the child who did the voice-over, was a delight! He was an extremely professional third- grader, and his delivery and voice were perfect for the character. I wish him success with his acting dreams. Working with Wilbur the City Pig was a bit more of a challenge. Wilbur is strictly an improvisational actor, so filming proved to be a free-flowing, extemporaneous event. We took our cues from him.
  10. Have fun! Making a trailer is much easier and less stressful than writing a book or getting it published. Enjoy the ride!

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