Book trailers are a visual marketing tool that can be uploaded onto social media sites such as YouTube, Facebook and Twitter, to help reach out to possible readers. There are many different ways to create videos, and a lot of authors will use video software such as Movie Maker. When it came to making the book trailer for ‘Later’, I looked at all these possibilities, but each one required a licence to be bought. But, while Googling, I came across an article that suggested PowerPoint could be used to create a video using still images. I’m not the most competent of people when it comes to technology, but it worked.
My book trailers are not masterpieces, but they serve the purpose for which they were created. They advertise my books, and I haven’t had to go and spend money on more software.
This chapter follows the making of a book trailer for my contemporary romance novel ‘The Final Straight’.
Start with a Blank Canvas
It might sound obvious to open with a blank screen, but when I first started using PowerPoint I was overwhelmed by all the different designs. I went through most of them, fiddling with various ideas, I did the ‘Take a Tour’… But I was left more confused than I’d started!
I found that by starting with a blank screen, I was able to create the effects that I wanted, without having to figure out how to move that box where.
The opening screen is the first thing that the viewer sees. It’s what draws them. Some people start with pretty pictures, opening lines etc. I prefer to start with an image of the book cover. However, just sticking up a cover of the book might be a bit boring:
As you can see, it has offered design suggestions in the right-hand column, while the left-hand column shows all the individual slides that have been created.
To insert your image, go to the Insert Tab, click picture, and then find the file with the right image that you want to use. You can move it around your screen as you prefer or use one of the design ideas provided.
I like to have a background for my title page, to make it more inviting. Since ‘The Final Straight’ is set on a livery yard, I’ve chosen an image of some horses that I found on Pexels.com and inserted that. As you can see, it again offers me design ideas, however none of them are how I see the final image. Right-click over the image, and it brings up several options, including to send the larger image to the back.
You can then move your book cover around the screen until it’s in the position that you like.
Once you’re happy with the position, you can alter the image to give it a frame to make it stand out even more:
And of course, add a title:
Click Insert, Text Box, and then drag the box to where you want to write your title. It’s advisable to use a simple font that’s easy to read, and one that’s similar to the one used on your book cover if possible.
You can also add the author’s name, and any useful information such as the release date, price, ASIN / ISBN, website, and any one-line reviews that you’ve received.
Remembering that this is going to be a video, you can also add some animation to the over-laying book cover:
Click on Animations, make sure you’ve clicked on the image / text you want to animate, and choose your poison! Once you’ve chosen how the image / text will appear, you can alter the duration of the animation, and the delay. I would suggest setting duration at 1 second, and delay by 0.5.
The next screen should be an introduction to your book. It’s a good idea to use the blurb that you’ve used on seller sites, websites etc.
To make the second screen, go to Home, New Slide, and Blank.
Using the book cover as an image helps to keep viewers on track as to what the blurb relates to. Add a background image that relates to the story and keep the blurb short and sweet. But don’t write it all in one go. Spread it out over a few screens, so that the video can progress and doesn’t just hop from one image to another.
Using the same image for each sentence / paragraph of the blurb, allows the images to merge neatly into each other, giving a smoother transition.
I do like to use the design ideas during this bit, but again you can fiddle about with the images and backgrounds, to make it how you want it.
The introduction can go over as many slides as you need it to, but two or three is a good number as it doesn’t drag on for too long, but at the same time isn’t over an instant.
The next few slides should be a teaser – an extract from your book.
At this point, you can start looking for stock images that relate to your book, rather than using the book cover. Find a scene that you really enjoy; one that draws in the reader and leaves them wanting more. You could consider your opening scene, or the last few lines of a chapter. For a romance novel, I tend to choose a scene that builds on the relationship between characters.
When choosing images, choose one that could be connected to the scene. If you use images of people, try to make sure they resemble your characters in some way, i.e. same hair colour, same build etc. And the images don’t have to be still – you can use video clips as well.
When laying the images out, you don’t have to use the same image for each section, but it might be an idea to use the same image for two scenes that are linked, such as continuing dialogue.
Use images that draw on an emotive response. For instance, if the scene is heart-wrenching, don’t be afraid to find some dramatic pictures, or if it’s an erotic scene, using erotic photographs. Although do be aware of social media restrictions. To be used on sites such as Facebook and YouTube, images should be suitable for anyone over the age of 13.
The final image should be powerful, leaving your readers with a hook.
You’ve teased the reader, now give them the sales pitch. What format is the book available in? Where can they buy it? How much is it?
Make sure if you use a background image at this stage that you make it slightly transparent, or with a large void space so that it doesn’t detract from the information you want to get across to the readers.
If you want to transition text, revealing small bits of information at a time, duplicate the images:
Click Home, New Slide, and go down to Duplicate Selected Slides, then add further information as necessary.
And don’t forget to animate important information that you want to pop out to your reader!
The Final Word
After the sales pitch, dropping in one more line from the book can tantalise the reader into wanting to know more. Use a couple of slides to transition from picture to text, and don’t forget to include the book cover.
You should also have a final page that simply lists your books details such as ASIN / ISBN, website, and of course appropriate attributions.
Now you have all your images and text together, go back and make sure that everything is as you need it.
To add music, go to your first slide, click Insert and go down to Audio, and Audio on my PC.
Choose music that you are legally allowed to use, such as Bensound.com – a website that provides royalty free music that can be used on book trailers as long as you attribute them accordingly.
The music you use should be appropriate to your book. It’s no good choosing fast or classical music if it’s a slow, romantic scene that you’re promoting. Equally, easy listening piano music wouldn’t suit an action scene.
Once you have chosen your music, add it to the slideshow.
Click Play in Background and make sure the Play Across Slides box is ticked.
To make sure the slideshow runs automatically, go to Transitions, Advance Slide, and check the After box, adding in how many seconds you want between slides – 5 seconds is a good call. Click Apply to All.
Check that everything works by reviewing it. Go to Slide Show, and down to Play From Beginning:
If the audio clip is too long for your slideshow, right click on the icon and go to Trim, moving it to how long your video clip is.
Time to save! Save as a slideshow in the usual way. To make it into a video, go File, Export, Create a Video, ensure it’s saving in HD, and click Create Video! It really is that simple.
PowerPoint saves videos as an MP4 file, which is compatible with sites such as YouTube, and can easily be uploaded.
And that’s it!
Creating a book trailer doesn’t need to be daunting, and once you’ve done it, it’s something you can do over and over again for future books.
Fiddle, play, learn, and have fun!