Creating a Book Trailer (Sort of)

I am toiling away on a book trailer for a friend of min. Honest. But it’s slow going and, being the impatient chap that I am, I wanted results. Ergo, I created a mini-trailer for myself.

I wrote a non-fiction book (more on the scholarly side) about how the vampire evolved through film and television. It’s done fairly well. My publisher, McFarland, is terrific about advertising and keeping the word out. However, I love the subject so much, I threw together a video montage of some key scenes. Specifically how vampires reacted to crosses over the years.

The process was beyond simple, I can now see how people post YouTube videos all the time. Admittedly, having iMovie makes it much easier. I located clips on YouTube and used Zamzar (a free service) to convert them into mov format. My book is a review piece, therefore some use of film footage is allowable. I shot some quick footage of my vampire relics at home for the opening and ending sequences of the video.

Finally I needed music. I stumbled on the site for Kevin MacLeod, who creates creative commons and royalty-free music. It was free with the added caveat of citing him as the creator. I have no bones about spreading the word on a talented musician. Check him out. The music is great.

Uploading was easy. Too easy. I was so excited that I put the video up with typos (I think I have them all covered now). There doesn’t seem to be a way to “replace” a video on YouTube. So I uploaded a new one and deleted the old. I’m pleased with the results. I plan a series of these videos, each focusing on an aspect of vampire lore.


  • Filmed images (did with iPhone camera): Free
  • Movie clips from YouTube: Free
  • Video conversion with Zamzar: Free
  • Editing with iMovie: $14.99
  • Music from Kevin MacLeod: Free
  • Total Cost: $14.99 or Free (since I already had iMovie)

Try it yourself. It’s not rocket science.

Tim Kane

Four High Production Book Trailers

In the last post, I explored four low budget book trailers. Well here are the big boys. Not always better, as you’ll see. Most of these have a hefty budget and were most likely produced by the publishers.

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

This trailer certainly has that Hollywood feel. It clearly delivers the premise of this books. I’ve actually read the sample chapter and it dovetails with this trailer almost scene for scene. It shows the reader exactly what he or she would expect.

Going West by Maurice Gee

Are you amazed? You should be. The cut paper art is breathtaking. I couldn’t take my eyes away. Now, can you tell me what the book is about? Yeah, there was the voice over reading snippets from the book, but I didn’t listen. The visuals overpowered the text. This is an example of the production team going too far.

I can’t say for certain, but I believe the art may be by Peter Callesen.

The Return Man by V. M. Zito

The trailer, put together by Swank Banana Productions, sucks you in with very simple visuals and text that interacts with the smoke. I have to say, I was drawn to this trailer. I can see the same techniques working on a smaller budget (perhaps without the fancy text).

Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld

The illustrations by Keith Thompson drive this book trailer. It shows that if you know someone who can draw, the trailer can center around this artwork. Again, this does a superb job of hitting it’s target audience of steampunk readers.

Tim Kane

Four Intriguing Low-Budget Book Trailers

I am creating a book trailer for a friend of mine, so of course I perused the YouTube offerings to see what’s what. Book trailers seem to fall into two categories: the low-budget and the “hey did a Hollywood filmmaker direct that?”. In a subsequent post, I’ll tackle some of the high end book trailers. The ones below are anywhere from a near zero budget to knowing some film students to help you. Let’s check them out…

Souless by Gail Carriger

This trailer appears to use found footage, or perhaps recreated footage, in a grainy black and white. Instead of a voice-over, black screens with text outline the premise of the book. Like it or not, this trailer gives you want you need, a reason to buy (or not buy) the book. It clearly explains the genre and premise as well as giving the mood of the writing. Compare the Souless trailer to the one below.

A Common Pornography by Kevin Sampsell

This trailer is quite clever and low budget (simply a camera filming the author). It engaged the viewer, but perhaps not enough to click over and check out the book. Despite the shocking title, I get no sense of what the book is about. I did click over to Amazon, but only so that I could be sure it wasn’t really about pornography (you never can tell these days).

Nocturnal by Scott Sigler

This is the man that gave away so much of his writing that gathered tens of thousands of followers. The publishers came begging to sign him. Although this trailer has a heightened budget, it is still essentially drawings animated to outline the plot. It’s the pacing and style that capture you. I was instantly enthralled. It also serves its purpose: you know what the book is about.

i am in the air right now by Kathryn Regina

I am addicted to this trailer. It not only captivates me, but makes me want to read Regina’s poetry. Partly this is due to her reading some of poetry for the trailer. She “animates” her poems, matching the images to the words. While the we see images of a bird crying for help and wasting away, we hear this:

“I was thinking of the bird that flew into a man’s head, hard, so that it actually flew inside the head and it got trapped there and confused.”

Addicting. This is clearly a brilliant book trailer, though not easily emulated unless you’re writing poetry.

The next post will explore some of the higher budget book trailers.

Tim Kane