How to Create A Book Trailer


Book Trailer: Archived Video and Purchased Music

Today, I’m officially unveiling a new book trailer for Prairie Storms, my nonfiction picture book.

I’ve done tons of research for the past two years ago and wrote The BookTrailer Manual, which will be totally revised in time for the 13th annual SCBWI Winter conference on January 27, where I’ll be speaking at the pre-conference Marketing Intensive on the topic of book trailers. So, check back in at about then or sign up for the newsletter at the site to get notification of when it is available.

I created this trailer myself. The old film comes from public domain video that I found at When I saw the ice skating bison, I knew it could be an interesting video, so I looked for something humorous to go with it. Research says that humor is the most often shared content on videos, so I’m searching for funny things. For the music, I bought the track at for about $5. NEVER use copyrighted music; besides the obvious reasons why, I just saw that YouTube can recognize some instances of copyrighted music use and they have permission from the copyright holder to insert ads on videos that use their music. So, you may get unwanted ads when you do this.

I use SonyVegas HD software. There are tons of free software packages out there, including free ones that come on every computer (iMovie or Windows Movie Maker) and those from YouTube partners at But I like the Vegas program because it has great tutorials, I can burn a DVD and thus show the trailers at conferences, and it has more flexibility than many of the free programs; for example, it records my voice when I need to do voice overs.

When I want to shoot my own video, I use the Kodak Zi8 camera because it is light weight and mostly because it has an external microphone jack, the only small camera like this to have that option. I just plug in a cheap lavalier microphone (clips onto your shirt) and record that way and it has good sound quality. I like the Zi8’s HD quality, too.

To upload, you create a YouTube Channel and basically follow instructions. For the Vegas software, I make sure the video is edited as I want and then it’s a simple matter of clicking the option that I want to upload to YouTube. It then creates the video in a format optimized for YouTube, accesses my channel and uploads it. Once uploaded, I can log into YouTube to edit, annotate, fill in descriptions, etc. as needed. Most software has a similar option, so you don’t have to worry about the technical specs of YouTube–they all assume you want to upload to YouTube and make sure it is easy.

You can also do something as simple as use your iPhone’s video and upload that. It can be as simple or complex as you want. I guess what I emphasize is that with some basic experience, you can quickly get up to speed on creating the video files. But it’s the ideas that will grab people and make them want to share your video. Rarely does a simple rehash of your story’s plot line get many views. The YouTube audience wants entertainment. The manual has 14 types of videos and more suggestions on combinations of text, sound track and images.

The Bison v. Woman Skating Competition

This new video is an example of a YouTube Aesthetic Book Trailer , an informal, humorous video that only addresses the content of the book tangentially, but nevertheless, creates interest. The humor is meant to be shared! I chose this aesthetic, instead of the Movie Trailer Aesthetic or the PowerPoint Aesthetic, because I believe it has more potential for drawing in viewers on YouTube.

Please watch the video. Enjoy, laugh. And pass it along–I need your help to get lots of eyes on this!

If you can’t see this video, click here. *|YouTube:oRle8t3dHLs|*

  • H Brady
    January 6, 2012

    Hello Darcy,

    Did you know the term “book trailer” is trademarked? I have asked for some clarification from the owner on the matter because I don’t know it can be used legally.

  • Darcy Pattison
    January 8, 2012

    Sure, it’s trademarked. But it’s also in general use.