Make Your Own Book Preview Video

A few weeks ago, I posted my home-brewed book preview video for my brand spanking-new (as of today) release, Touch of Evil. After checking it out, several people asked me how to do it, so I thought I'd share what I've learned about the process.

This isn't meant to be expert or in-depth advice, just a few quick tips to get you do-it-yourselfers started. I also don't mean to hold up my book video skills as a super-fabulous example but as an illustration of some of the techniques I describe. (And if you're inspired to rush out and buy my new book, so much the better. I'll cop to that.)

1. If you're running Windows XP or higher (I'm presuming it's still on Vista and Win7), you should have a program on board called Windows Movie Maker. Here's a link from Microsoft to help you get started. Or if you want something more basic, try Wendy Russell's post here.

Or if you're like me and hate reading instructions, open the program and start playing with it, then look up the questions that come up as you're floundering through the process.

2. Come up with a very brief, provocative way to share your story's hook. Looking at movie trailers, TV listings, and other book preview videos (there are tons on Youtube) will give you an idea what you should be after. Hint: Words are not your friend here. Get rid of every one you can.

3. Think about what images will best get across your message. Then legally obtain them. It's fine for you to use your book's cover art to promote your book. That's the way it's licensed. What's not cool is lifting material without permission and using it in your video. There are many places to find stock photos online, from istockphoto to Getty Images to many, many more. Prices vary widely, so be sure to shop around - and don't get carried away with too many images. Instead, focus on a very few to improve their impact. (You can use Moviemaker's special effects to add interest, as I've done here by using color shifts and zoom.

4. Find and purchase the right to use a piece of music that conveys the mood/tone you want in a compelling way. I recommend but there are many others out there. Just type royalty free music or royalty free production music into your favorite search engine. And don't confuse "royalty free" with "free." You will need to pay a set fee (varies from about $9.99 to $99.99 or more, depending on your choice) to avoid paying a royalty each time the file is accessed.

5. Remember, keep your "commercial" short. You just want to entice viewers with a taste, not risk losing their attention. And simple's best, too, or you risk losing your message with too many fancy tricks.

6. Check, recheck, and check some more with your friends (beta-testers.) Tweak as necessary before posting the file to your website, blog, favorite online bookseller, publishers, social networking site, and/or Youtube.

Though you can save money and have fun (if you enjoy this sort of thing, as I do) there are many compelling reasons to hire the pros to create a book preview video for you. (One of the best I know of, Circle of Seven Productions, has packages at many different price points, starting at $350. Check 'em out.) If you do decide to do your own, take extra care to avoid a cheesy look with 1. too much telling, 2. badly-handled use of images/effects, 3. self-aggrandizing over-selling 4. excessive length, and you can find your book video preview one more great tool for introducing readers to your book.


Anonymous said…
Thanks for the info, Colleen!!!
Jo Anne said…
You always amaze me with your ingenuity, Colleen. Thanks for the good info. Great job on the video! And by the way - GREAT BOOK!

Of course, I reserve the right to pick your brain in the future.... :-)
Thanks so much, Jo Anne! And I'm especially happy to hear that you enjoyed the book!
Christie Craig said…

I know when Faye and I got our heads together we really enjoyed putting the video together. It's hard work, but was fun, too.

I can't wait to pick up this book.

Joselyn Vaughn said…
I really liked your tag line at the end. Great job.

How do you use the video to help with marketing?
Thanks, Joselyn.

I post copies of the vid to my Facebook, webpage, publisher (who puts it on their site), Youtube, and to whichever online booksellers I can figure out how to upload to. I send out links to readers on my e-mailing lists and interested book bloggers, etc., and I've use it as a draw to run a contest, as well.

What I hope it does it put a visual in the minds of anyone who's casually checking out my work online. It serves as another "billboard in cyberspace" with a little more sex appeal than a standard book description.

Really spectacular, original book vids with live action and a clever premise can go viral, but that's beyond my pay grade. And you really have to have a very special delivery to make one stand out well enough to pull that off.

Thanks to you, too, Christie!

Popular posts from this blog

Harlequin Intrigue vs. Harlequin Romantic Suspense