This is an article I wrote for TheWriteLife at http://thewritelife.com/free-apps-for-book-trailer
As any author can tell you, promoting your book is a challenge. In addition to standard marketing techniques, you must find new and innovative ways to engage with your readers. One way to do that is to create an animated book trailer.
While many people don’t know how to create animation from scratch, it can actually be quite simple to do it yourself. Luckily, there are a number of free and easy-to-use applications for creating book trailers.
To start, you’ll want some photos for your trailer; typically, these would be of you, your book cover, and your interior art. You don’t need high-res photos; 72 dpi is fine (640 px wide by 480 px high).
If you’re a Windows user, you can download Photo Story or Movie Maker from Microsoft. Mac computers come pre-loaded with iMovie software. If you have PowerPoint, you can add soundtracks, slide animations and slide transitions to presentations, and then export to video. All of these options produce a video file that must be hosted somewhere (eg. your website or YouTube).
Several newer apps combine trailer creation and hosting, including Animoto, Prezi, and PhotoShow. Let’s take a look at how they work.
The Lite version of Animoto is free and enables you to create 30-second animated trailers.
Step 1. Select the animation style and soundtrack that best matches your book.
Step 2. Outline the slides you’ll use in your animation. Each slide can either have text or an image. However, if you know how to use PhotoShop or another image editor, you can get the best of both worlds by adding text to your image files. If you’re technically savvy, you can substitute your own soundtrack too.
Step 3. Animoto assigns a length of time to each slide. When your total runtime reaches 30 seconds, you won’t be able to add any more slides. You can edit the slide contents and rearrange the slide order. Click the “Preview Video” button to see your trailer!
Step 4. Once you’re happy with your video, click the “Produce” button. Voila!
If you want to add to your trailer, you can also pay for additional options like a longer video, more animation choices and more customization of your animation. Here’s the trailer I made with Animoto.
The Public version of Prezi is free. It enables you to create trailer-like presentations with richly animated slide transitions that your audience must click through manually.
Step 1. Sign up on Prezi.com. It will encourage you to download the desktop application, but you can also create your trailer completely online.
Step 2. Click on “New Prezi” and choose a template. Prezi is similar to PowerPoint and offers some snazzy animated slide transitions.
Step 3. Build your trailer “slides” one at a time by adding text and other content. Use the Insert button at the top center of the screen to add images, video and background music.
Step 4. To preview the trailer, click the blue “Present” button in the upper left of the screen. Hit “Escape” to leave presentation viewing. Click on the “Edit Path” button in the upper left to reorder or delete individual slides.
Step 5. Once you’re happy with the trailer, click the “Share” button in the upper right corner and select “Share Prezi”.
Prezi will reserve you a web address, and when you go to that address, click the “Embed” button. Click the radio button labelled “Constrain to simple back and forward steps” and you will see HTML. Copy and paste that HTML into your web page wherever you want to embed your trailer.
Here is my modest Twignibble trailer made with Prezi.
The Free version of PhotoShow is easy to use and the features are pretty nice. Unfortunately, the trailers only persist for 30 days.
Step 1. Click “Make a PhotoShow.”
Step 2. Click “Add Photos” to import images to your trailer.
Step 3. Click “Personalize” to enter the trailer title and author. Then use the different tabs to select a style, insert captions, text bubbles and other features.
Step 4. The “Music & Photos” tab lets you reorder or delete images and control the audio. Click Done when you’re ready to see your video.
Step 5. Click on “Post to your web page or blog”. Copy and paste the HTML into your website to embed your trailer.
Since I don’t have a PhotoShow subscription, my trailer for How the Rhino Got His Skin is no longer publicly visible. However, if you enjoy using PhotoShow, an annual subscription for additional features and ongoing public access to trailers is only $39.
Having a book trailer can be a fun way to share your work with your audience. However, remember that it’s just one small part of your larger campaign to build an online platform for your book. Good luck!