My new book Night Driving: A Story of Faith in the Dark comes out in a little over a month, and last night I put the finishing touches on a book trailer.
For those creatives interested in the process by which I created this amateur, ad hoc trailer, here are some steps. For those who could care less about the how, feel free to just scroll down and take a look!
Step 1. Whine to your friends/spouse/significant other about how you have no idea how to make a “book trailer” and that the book industry expects too much of its authors. Why can’t we go back to the good old days when writes could just write? you’ll say. Now we have to know how to use Twitter and make book trailers.
Step 2. Repeat Step 1 for 1-3 weeks until you’ve exhausted all the self-pity.
Step 3. Make a decision. While drinking your coffee one morning, realize that no one is going to force you to make a book trailer. But neither is anyone else going to do this work for you.
By this time, you’ll have already realized that you cannot control how your art goes into the world or how it is received… But you can control whether or not there is a book trailer.
Step 4. Scour the internet for existing book trailers. There are not tons to choose from, and some will be so outside of your (basically nonexistent) video-making skill-set and so well-resourced that you’ll be tempted to go back to Step 1 for a week or two. Resist this temptation.
Keep looking until you find a few simple, beautiful ones. What elements of these could you steal? What simple concepts are at work here that would be useful in marketing your own book/product/idea?
Step 5. Create an artistic vision. Make it as simple as you can. What themes does your work tackle? Is there something unique about the setting? Is there a significant object? You don’t need a cast or a production — you just need a simple way to tap into the heart of your book. Think small.
Step 6. Gather your materials. With smartphones, getting good video clips is simpler than ever, and it’s easy to ask friends and family for help getting shots that you might be unable to get. (For example, for this video, I enlisted friends along the route that I drove in Night Driving to take clips of the road as they drove through their towns.)
You need to make sure that everything you use is royalty-free and that you site the source. This sounds complicated and possibly expensive… but it’s not. There are plenty of places online to get free royalty-free video clips and music, usually just by citing the author and the Creative Common License. (I found lots of great stuff on videvo for this project; the song I used came from incomptech.com)
Step 7. Figure it out as you go. There are plenty of free movie-making apps and software available. Choose one, and learn as you go. Don’t be intimidated by a new interface. There are so many resources to help you figure things out. If the app/software is intimidating to you, it might be worth doing a quick search on youtube for an introductory video. And if you get stuck, check the online help or simply Google your question.
Step 8. Let it be imperfect. Do your creative best with this video, but remember that the trailer is not the thing. The book/product/idea that it represents is the thing. This is simply a way to help the world know that it exists.
Do your best, put it out there, and let it go