How To Create A Book Trailer

I love book trailers. I think they are an awesome way to gain attention for your book. They are evergreen and keep selling while you are sleeping BUT they are also hard work to put together!

Here’s my book trailer for Pentecost and below are the steps I went through to make it. Please let me know in the comments what you think, remembering that it is a thriller trailer! I realize that book trailers are a bit like books i.e. not everyone likes the same thing.

Plan the script, look and feel.

I took the back blurb of the novel and edited it down to a few key sentences for the script. I did try reading it aloud but my voice just isn’t suitable for the serious tone I wanted to strike so I decided to use plain text on a visual background. I also used video clips, not just stills as this looks more professional and holds reader attention. I wanted the impression of a blockbuster movie with big sound and vision. It is meant to be over the top, as movie trailers for action/thrillers always are.

Choose Images and Video

I wrote down a list of the images I wanted to use to convey the main ideas i.e. cross, fire, stone, blood, guns and more. Then I searched for images and video to use that would be suitable. I built a Lightbox with ones I liked. This is like a folder you can add clips to in order to choose from later. This part took me 5-6 hours as there are thousands of images and video clips to choose from. I also surfed other sites but in the end, just used iStockphoto as it had the easiest search with the best results (although you need a budget for this). I didn’t buy the clips until I had worked out exactly what I needed.

Choose Music

I have used Soundsnap before but Darcy Pattison who I interviewed on book trailers suggested 300 Monks. This is an awesome site with audio based on types of movies. I searched for thriller, action and suspense and then listened to each of the tracks, narrowing down the selections until I found the perfect track. I wanted a movie style theme with a crescendo for the final explosion. Remember to ensure your music choice is royalty-free.


This is the hard part!

Once you have video, audio, images and a script, you need to put it all together. In my previous post on how to make a book trailer, I was on the PC and used free software Windows MovieMaker. Now I’m a Mac user and currently use ScreenFlow to create/edit movies but you can also use iMovie. For more video editing options, check out this interview with Gideon Shalwick, expert on video marketing.

I imported all my media into ScreenFlow and then played with it. I started with the audio and tried to match the images/video to the sound adding appropriate text on the way. Choosing a font was a pain but I went with Papyrus for the ancient look. The editing took around 4 hours to get exactly right.


I’m a YouTube fan so that’s my main site for video. It means you can embed the video on your blog (hint, hint!) and also share with others. There are stacks of other video sites but YouTube is owned by Google, so you need to be there for search traffic. Make sure you include a description with the link to your book and also the text of the video (or more).

You should also tag appropriately. I also uploaded the video separately onto Facebook which has it’s own search engine and is worth doing separately, rather than just embedding. I am sharing the link through my networks: Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Goodreads. The usual suspects! I’ll continue using the video through the launch process (more details on that to come shortly!)

How you can create a book trailer for free

You can create a trailer for free using Creative Commons images, video and audio as well as free editing software MovieMaker or iMovie.
However, I decided to pay for my media this time. Why?
Well, I started to look through the Creative Commons sites and while there is gold in there, it takes a while to sift through. Right now, I’d rather spend a bit of money than the extra time going through many more sites searching for the right images. So I stuck with iStockphoto when I could have used Flickr and creative commons music. If you do go the Creative Commons route, please check the licensing and attribute the creator.

For loads more information on book trailers, definitely check out my interview with Darcy Pattison, author of the Book Trailer Manual.

What do you think about book trailers? Did you like the Pentecost trailer? Please leave your thoughts in the comments below.

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  1. says

    Wow Joanna,
    Your trailer is stunning – you have given me a raft of ideas for my series Hengist: People of the Horse. The first book Archer starts with a joust and ends in the Beltane bonfire – I’m hearing clashes of steel, snatches of Queen-like rock stuff and crackling flames. *shivers*
    Thank you. Good luck with your book.
    Jacky Gray –

  2. says

    Thanks so much for the tips. The fact that you actually list your resources is very helpful–especially for the debut author just starting to consider this aspect of online marketing. Your efforts have convinced me that book trailers do not have to be cheesy in appearance; they can be eye-catching, professional, and compelling!

  3. Wiladene Keen says

    I thought your book trailer video was fantastic! I will definitely take your recommendations under advisement when I prepare mine for my book launch. Thank you for sharing the fabulous information with your readers.

  4. says

    Great post. Within seven hours of reading this I was able to take your steps and make my own trailer. It came out great.

    Thank You

  5. says

    Hi Joanna and All,

    My book trailer for my first novel Point Deception by Jim Gilliam.wmv is posted all over the place. It came out pretty good. The original was almost 3 minutes long. I’ve since had feedback from several people in the business. I was advised for instance that it should be no longer than 30 seconds. The revised version on YouTube is 28 seconds. Was also advised that voice over was the way to go instead of the current flash cards followed by teasing photographs some of which have movement. The cost to purchase rights to music, photos, a copy of Darcy Pattison’s Book Trailer Manuel, and video software was around $350 plus my time.

    My new book Tarnished Hero is out. Of course I want to do a book trailer. This time for $199 I’ve contracted it out to a commercial outfit (name withheld until I evaluate their product) that will produce it for me a professionally done book trailer posted on YouTube and 99 other sites. I have complete freedom of content and editing. They’ve already started and the turn around time is 2-3 weeks so I’ll keep you posted. Judging from sample book trailers on their site this new trailer should be great. I might even consider redoing the original trailer for Point Deception. Another piece of valuable advice I’ve learned is to keep your website content and videos fresh and lean.

    P.S. My new novel TARNISHED HERO was released in late February and has garnered an Honorable Mention at the 2013 Paris Book Festival. Check it out if you can at BEA at the Javits Center in NYC May 29 – June 1.

    Your latest book is great I’ll be posting the review very soon.


  6. Rich says

    WOW! Very compelling trailer, Joanna! You have a talent for video as well as writing. Great tips and resources in the notes below. All in all a GREAT JOB!

  7. Louise Toth says

    Your book trailer is EXCELLENT. The music, images, fonts and story are very impressive. I made a video for youtube, from my illustrations in my book, THOTH & Jesus of Egypt. Now, I need to make a more exciting one like yours. I believe you have put your energy into the universe of film production. I am proud of you!!! Louise Toth

    • says

      Evidently it is just something about that link. I got the same error message, but when I went and googled “300 Monks”, it came up and I was able to get into the site fine. All the best to you!

  8. says

    Thank you so much for this informative post. I am just getting started, having just self-published my first book, with not much of a budget to work with right now, and was looking for an inexpensive way to do a book trailer! This helps a lot!

    • says

      Oh, and very impressive book trailer! Love it! Also, my book is a Native American Saga/family adventure, which involves a journey to the past and back to the present, where as teachers, a couple decide to take their children somewhere “educational” for their vacation, and end up in the same area where these tribes were supposed to have been years ago. I am wanting something of a “Dances With Wolves” nature, like the score that was done for that movie by the late John Barry, for the music for my book trailer. If anyone can help me out with this, please let me know or post here.

  9. says

    I thought you did a great job on the book trailer, and I really enjoyed your hints and tips. I have an idea in mind for a trailer for my book, I just needed a place to start. Your article is a big help. Thanks!

  10. Jan Raymond says

    This will be the bible for my book trailer. So useful and informative. Thanks. Will come back and leave a note on how it went.

  11. Kitty says

    Great tutorial, but I have a few questions. Can you still use stuff under creative common licence for marketing your book? One of the requirements is that the photos/videos are used for nonprofit purposes, and while you technically aren’t making money from the video itself, you’re using the video to promote your book which (I assume) you’ll be making money off of. Would that still count as a nonprofit work? Also where does Flickr say that its photos are free to use?


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