I've received a lot of questions about how I made the video trailer for Sunbelievable, so I thought I'd describe the steps I used to create and share it. Video trailers are a great way to promote books 24/7! The steps may appear somewhat linear, but it's more a back-and-forth, fluid process between one step and another. If you have an idea for the "gestalt" of the video, go with your instinct for starters.
1. Write the script. Since trailers are generally less than 2 minutes, there's a lot to pack in. Some of the free video creation software programs (mentioned below) allow only a 60 second video for free, but that may be just the right amount of time for your trailer. Mine is just under 2 minutes. What impression do you want to make that will entice viewers to read your book? It isn't necessary to "tell" the story, per se. A good, crisp script highlights the essential story elements and builds interest quickly. Notice that I used very few words and let the images do the "talking." It helped to read the script to willing listeners who offered constructive feedback. I wanted the first sentence of my script to draw attention in sync with the images and sound. Once the script is drafted, you can always revise it after adding graphics and music.
2. Select graphics and images. I used illustrations from Sunbelievable for the video, since I created them and own the raw files. However, there are free sources for good quality images. Depending on the overall look and feel you want to achieve, search Google or Bing for free photos and artwork. Make certain your selections are copyright- and royalty free. Another source is iStock Photo for a library of high quality, royalty free stock photography and images. Though not a free source, there are pricing options and millions of images. I added digital elements from scrapbooking kits I purchased online. For my video, one source was StudioGraphics.
I have no formal training as an artist, but discovered how to create illustrations in Photoshop. The process involves blending my own (original) photographs with digital elements sold online. Be sure to check the company's policies on “commercial use rights” for digital artwork, as some require a license. I went a step further and obtained written permission from individual artists via signed contractual agreement.
3. Choose music. I was fortunate to have a talented young musician, Jeffrey DiLucca at MrFilmScore, create an original score for my trailer. After I completed Steps #1 and #2, we sat together and looked at the sequence of images. We thought through the musical accompaniment -- style, rhythm, pace -- that would complement the image layout. If you don't have a musician handy, a fantastic source for music is 300Monks where you can find royalty-free music to suit any type of trailer -- from children's books to documentaries. Another source is Creative Commons that allows you to legally use "some rights reserved" music, movies, images and other content -- all free.
4. Create the trailer. Putting it all together is challenging, but if you've worked your way through Steps #1-3, you're ready to make the trailer a reality. I used a sophisticated software program purchased from Photodex ProShow Producer. I'd been doing some promotional videos for different types of companies and found the software well-suited to those particular needs. But, there are free video creation programs that produce very good quality trailers. For MAC users, iMovie is built-in software that's easy to navigate. PC users have access to Windows Movie Maker with many video capabilities. Other free sources are available. Check out these 5 great sites: Animoto, Stupeflix, Muvee Cloud, FlixTime, and Masher. Each has its own unique features and options, including upgrades and music.
5. Share it. YouTube is one of the most popular online communication sites, allowing users to upload and make videos available to the public -- for free. You can post videos to your own "channel," embed them on your blog, and share with others (great PR/marketing!). There are other video upload sites, but since YouTube is owned by Google, you'll get more traffic by posting your video there. Maximize YouTube exposure even more by writing a strong description of the video, tagging it appropriately, and linking to your blog and social media sites!
It took me about 5 hours to create my trailer. The hardest part was squeezing it all into 1:53 minutes. Because I already had the book's illustrations to use, I didn't spend upfront time images or music. However, if you plan on doing one or more videos, it may be worth the effort to explore the website resources mentioned above. Another option is paying someone to make the video for you, if you have the budget.
Jo Ann Kairys is the co-author and co-illustrator of Sunbelievable—a Mom’s Choice Gold Medal 2012 award winning children’s picture book and 2 First Place Royal Dragonfly 2012 Awards for Illustration.