Thursday, March 04, 2010

Book Trailer - How To Make a Book Trailer with iMovie

Yes, it seems the new thing these days are book trailers.

The first book trailer I saw was by the wonderful poet, Alison Stine, though I'm not sure she thought of it as a book trailer. It was a wonderful video she posted on her blog that travelled roadways until we arrived at our destination, a box of books which was opened and revealed Ohio Violence (Vassar Miller Prize in Poetry), her book.

Now, Alison obviously did some things right because I remember that video very well. I know there's a scene in a car and I remember the book at the end. To me, this is a successful video, when you remember the book or an image from it.

From Aimee Nezhukumatathil's, the images of the candy hears & necklaces, plus the typing sounds stand out most for me. The lemons reminded me of her first book, Miracle Fruit, so I liked seeing those.

I remember when I first watched that video and heard the typing, I thought "Dang! I want that sound!" - Book trailer envy means she's doing something right.

One other thing that stayed with me was Aimee's website, which is the very last image. That is something to remember, the last images may stay with the viewer most.

Here's Aimee's video--

At the Drive-In Volcano from aimee nezhukumatathil on Vimeo.


The book trailer I put together I did on iMovie after watching a 3 minute tutorial.

I had never worked with iMovie (in fact, I've only had my MacBook Pro for 3 months, so I don't have a lot of experiences with Macs), so the fact I figured it out means that anyone can do it.

If you have iMovie, watch the tutorial first (a couple times), then start trying to make your book trailer. Then watch it again. It's amazing how it makes so much more sense once you're in the middle of your book trailer.

(BTW, if you don't have a book, you can do this for a poem, or make a video highlighting your artistic life...)

Basically, here's what I would do if you want to make a video.

Gather all the images or video you would like to be in your book trailer and put them all in one place. (Mine were in my downloads folder because they were images I took from my writing retreat at Sylvia Beach.)

Open iMovie and it will say something like "First Project" if you have never done one, Click on FILE and choose "New Project" and give it a name. Something like: Title-of-book Book Trailer.

From there, grab the images or video you are using from wherever you are keeping them and drag them into the upper lefthand corner, which is your book trailer project. They will play in the order you put them in. You can click on them to move them around if you don't like the order.

If you want music, Diane Lockward posted a great post about Book Trailers with links where you can get royalty free music here. (She also talks about where you can get images for your movie if you don't have them.)

Download the music you want then drag it from your downloads folder into the project area. That's it. You now have music to go with your images.

From here, it's just playing around to learn what everything does. You can click on the images to change how long they appear. Or you can add transitions, text, etc. by clicking on the icons on the gray bar in the middle towards the right.

I am still learning, so I don't have a lot of detailed advice to give except just explore and play around with it. You can't mess anything up and if you want, make a project called: "Practice Trailer" or something like that and just start experimenting with things to see what happens if you drag something into your project box.

The only other thing I want to add is for you to remember to get permission from others if you use their images in your video. I asked a couple people on Flickr if I could use their images and they were kind enough to say yes. I ended up not using them (I might in another video), but it's important to get permission if it is not from your own personal photos.

There are also quite a few sites with non-copyrighted images and graphics, just google what you are looking for.

So that's it.

I plan on doing a follow up to this post with things I think make a good book trailer and how I revised mine, but this will get you going.

And for those who asked me if they could copy my idea, please feel free as it's not my idea (I got the idea from other authors) and it's really a fun creative thing to do. That is what has amazed me most, I actually enjoyed putting it together. It was very satisfying.

I'm guessing if you don't have a Mac you can use other movie-making software. The tips in my next post may be more helpful as they will address what I think makes a good book trailer and how I revised my first attempt at a book trailer into what you saw on YouTube.

So good luck and if you do make a book trailer or poem video, please post it on your blog and let me know. I'd love to see what others come up with.


  1. great tutorial! I took a multimedia journalism class last year, and learned about a few different movie apps/slide show apps. Your description was just about as good as the teacher's!

  2. Hi Kelli,
    You have inspired me to try this. I do wonder what to do with the trailer once it is done. Is yours up on your website? I'm still trying to think of what visual representation I want for my new book...I can understand how it can be fun ...once I get an idea that I like...Thanks for inspiring me!@

  3. WB-- Thanks! I'm glad to hear you say that.

    Susan-- When I get to the point when mine is *really* finished and I'm satisfied with it, I might put it up on my webpage. Aimee has her's up there. I just want to make sure mine feels complete.

  4. You are my favorite person in the world right now. I'm about to begin work on putting together two video poems using iMovie, so this tutorial is a BIG help. Cheers!

  5. Wow, thanks for the mention! I'm glad you liked the video! It felt like an event, opening the box of that first book, and I wanted to do something special with it. The amazing thing is that I was just coming to your blog to find out how to make a trailer like yours for...gulp... my next book! :)

  6. this is really a good simple tutorial. all the vids i made for shape of a box were done via movie maker so i'd second most of what you say here. you really don't have to spend a bunch of money to make something decent.

    i should probably get on to trying to make a book laptop is pretty much fried. FAIL

  7. Kelli,
    I love this idea of combining poetry and photography. If you ever need some photos, let me know I have tons that are unused and just sitting on my computer :)


  8. Glad this was of help and of interest to many of you!

    And Shona, thank you dearly for the offer!


  9. Thanks much Kells! You woke me up to tht knowledge that I even have iMovie on my newest Mac. Will get on with it asa I've combed my hair. Thanks again!

  10. Hi Kelli-So amazing to find you! I'm a writer with a book coming out by Seal Press April 2012. I want to make my own trailer. Just watched yours and it's amazing! I also have a MacBook Pro. How did you get the words to type out on the photos? I'm also in Seattle,WA! Nice to find you!


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