The Anatomy of a Book Trailer – Part 2

many pics

Where do we find the building blocks for a trailer?

Think about your goal.

Think about your message.

Think about your intended audience.


  1. Use individual artistic talent. Among the most notable examples of this are the trailers of Maggie Stiefvater. This is one such trailer, the result of hours and hours of painstaking work and stop action photography.
  2. Make your own video using family and friends as characters. The trailer for “The Uncertainty Principle” by Maria Elizabeth McVoy in the S & H anthology, Short & Happy (or not) is a fantastic example.
  3. Use an online program such as that relies more on the narration than video. This will work well with humorous commentary, as in this very simple trailer by Richard Bunning. A slightly more sophisticated use of online program is that Dwight Okita used for his speculative fiction book, The Prospect of my Arrival. Watch here. He animated a series of still pictures using the program to produce a very appealing trailer.
  4. Use purchased images. Making a trailer with a series of still images is very easy to do using PowerPoint, MovieMaker, iMovie, or another free software program.
    1. Use public domain images (remember to give credit). The image in this blog is an example (copyright 2012 martinak15, Flickr via Wylio) More about this later.
    2. Buy images from websites that sell “royalty-free” images. Remember royalty-free does not mean free. It means you can use the same image over and over without paying per use. Some of these are free, some are very inexpensive, and some aren’t. There are many such sites: iStock, canstockphoto, iClipart, and many more.
    3. Buy videos and overlay your own text. iStock, Pond5, and Videoblocks are sites to investigate.
    4. Last but far from least is to use your own still photos. Lenora Rain-Lee Good went on a road trip tracing the steps of Madame Dorion as she researched the background of her book, Madame Dorion: Her Journey to the Oregon Country (published by S & H Publishing, Inc.) She used some of the many photos she took to produce this video designed to be played in a continuous loop during book signings.