Create Your Own Trailer!

Being a starving artist, it is hard to find things to do for free.  Promotion seems like an unattainable goal sometimes.  I have wanted a book trailer ever since my historical romance novel was released in February.  I was told someone had to design it for you.  So, I looked around.  I couldn't find anything less than $150-200 to create a book trailer.  I thought that was normal.  And I'm sure it is if you want something that is smashing.  I did find a place that charged $5.00, but the low price made me wary.  What?  You might fork over that small bit of cash and see nothing from it.  

So, after numerous months of mourning the fact that I didn't have my own book trailer, I decided to research it.  I had read somewhere that you could create your own if you had the right software.  So, I read up on it more.  

Well, after several attempts, I think I have done it.  I will show the evolution of my trailer here just to let you know how long it took for me to figure it out.

Attempt 1

Attempt 2

Attempt 3

I just uploaded this one so if it doesn't appear right away, forgive me.  But, I think I have it just how I want it.

Attempt 4 (I went back and redid the trailer in August of 2014 and it is perfect!)

So, if you're an author or business person, you may be wondering how in the world this can be done on your own.  I will tell you.  There's no reason to keep secrets like this to oneself.  I don't know how many times I've been clueless about something and felt so grateful when someone bothered to post an article about it online.  So I will give you step by step instructions here.

1)    Pictures.

You want to find some great pictures for your video.  As we all know, there are sites out there that let you purchase pictures for said price.  Well, I'm going to refer you to places that don't necessarily do that.  Now, if you want premium pictures, you'll pretty much always have to pay something.  But, if you are okay with good pictures and are willing to use the right keywords to find them, then you have come to the right place.  

There are some decent sites out there that offer free pictures.  Some sites I have used are, Stock Xchng (,,, Fotolia, Photobucket , and  If you use or Shutterstock, you’ll probably have to pay for using their images.  I think they only have a handful of free images.  On any of these sites, you have to be pretty unique with your search terms or you won’t find what you’re looking for.  The best one I have found so far, and it does require a small invest ($20 for 20 credits), is 123RF.  If you want a sneak peek of the kind of images you can find on free sites, please visit my website at  I have used free images for all of my self-published books thus far.  Of course, I gave credit to the photographers.  All the ones listed under Erica Sutherhome, Kathryn Layne and Heather Crouse were self-published. I will have some more under Marie Lavender very soon. But, I digress. 

You should be able to find some decent pictures on any of these sites.  Have I missed any?  Probably.  But, you'll be searching for a long time if you just go on Google and say "free images".  You will get the ones I found, but also clip art and things that are definitely not free. Try looking for "royalty-free". You can, of course, do whatever you like. But, what do you do after you've found the pictures?

2) Music

Maybe you want to add music to your video.  Some people do voice-overs.  There are some royalty-free music sites out there.  Here is a list.  Some charge a little, while others don't.

Here is the best one I've found.

3)  Figure out your design or layout.  

What all do you want to say in your video?  What message do you want to convey?  For mine, I opened a Word document and typed up everything I wanted to say.  At that point, I started looking for pictures.  Lucky for me, I had already found a ton of free pictures when I was on the hunt for good photos for my book covers.  I just had to find the best ones for each section.  So, what's next?  What do you do after you figure out what you want to say?

4)  Powerpoint.

Make a Powerpoint presentation using the layout and pictures you found.  Adjust sizes of the images and font, and make sure you have even spaces on both sides of the slide.  An image that is slightly off on the pages is like a crooked picture.  Even an untrained eye will catch it.  Oh, and please, please, please give credit to photographers, composers and book cover artists in the 'Credits' page.

You should have a pretty good presentation going for you.  If you like, you can save the presentation for future reference. In fact, I encourage it. Do something else for me now.  Also save the presentation as a jpg.  What?  Why in the world would you do that?  Just trust me.  Powerpoint will ask you if you want to save all the slides as jpegs.  Say yes. You can close out of your presentation.  And what's next, you may ask. 

5)  Forget Authorstream.  When you do a search online for how to convert Powerpoint presentations to video, it will probably be mentioned.  It's just a useless tool, in my opinion.  So let's forget it please.

6)  Open Windows Movie Maker.  You should have it somewhere in your programs.  If you aren't aware of it, you have most likely overlooked it in your day to day operations.  I know I did. And if you don't have it, it's free to download from Microsoft.

From that point, you will see a white space on Movie Maker that looks like a whiteboard.  Locate your jpgs from your presentation.  Powerpoint would have saved them in a folder for you.  Open the folder and then select all of the jpgs. That's CTRL +A for a shortcut. You can drag them in or you can import them in as files.

Movie Maker will place them in the white area.  Then, you need to drag each slide (in chronological order, of course) into the storyboard below.  You can also click the button 'show timeline' after you've finished.  This shows your whole movie as it's progressing.  

Now, do you want to add music to your video?  I found it was damn near impossible with Powerpoint, but easy with this software.  Let's say you have your own MP3's or whatever.  I think you have to have a .wav file, but don't quote me on that.  It's possible it will let you use any audio file.  So, let's just assume you have a song you want to use.  You will click "import audio file" or just "import" and select the file from wherever you saved it.  That should add the file to your timeline as well.  

You will see two lines:  the first shows your slides and the second is your music.  There is also a play button on the right side of the screen where you can monitor your progress of the video by playing it back.  

So, from here you want to decide how long to make each slide and how you want to match it up to the music.  This, my friends, could take awhile because you'll most likely have to listen to the clip over and over again. However, if you like the song you selected, it's not really that bad.  To lengthen the slides, just click on one and drag it to the right.  Above all of that, you will see a minute and second counter that tells you how long each slide will last in your video.

Once you have your video the way you want it, you can add end credits or titles.  That would be in the 'tools' section.  And to finish your video, you have to select where you want it to end on the timeline (minutes and seconds or at the end of slides) and then go to the tab at the top that says "clip".  You will find this thing that says "set end trim point".  This will effectively end your video wherever you put the line so make sure you know where you're ending it first.

If you feel you're done building your video (or trailer), you will want to save it.  Click "save movie file" under "File".  It will ask if you want to save it to your computer or elsewhere.  Just save it to your computer, name it and let it do it's thing.  Movie Maker will also create a folder for your video so you will have to locate it that way.  What's next?  

Well, what do you want to do with your video?  Let's say you want to publish it to Youtube or just add as a video on your website or Facebook.  You can do that.

7) Find your movie file.  It should have a .wmv extension.

For the purposes of this article, let's say you want to upload it to Youtube.

8) Make sure you have an account on Youtube.  There should be an option to upload on your account.  It will be at the top of the page.

Add the file and name it.  Add a description and add tags (keywords related to the trailer or video).  It should save itself, but give it time to load your video entirely.

Youtube will also give you a URL for your video.  Notate that somewhere.

Within a few minutes, you should be in business.

Oh, look, mine is already active.  Great!

*This video was created for my historical romance, Upon Your Return.

Here are two others I have done for subsequent books.

*Updated 6/18/15 - Here is the trailer for Second Nature, released in December of 2014.

*Updated 7/26/15 - Here is the trailer for A Little Magick, released in July of 2015.


Well, that's how you can create your own trailer or video.  I hope I have helped you all.  Happy creating!


  1. Very effective! Like the pictures and the captions--in fact, I wanted more!

    Thanks for sharing and for giving me some idea for my own trailers, should I get brave enough to put novels on YouTube...

  2. Thanks for all this great information. I left a comment on YouTube for your video trailer. I have a book trailer someone else did for me. Here's the link:

    I purchased all the photos and video clips from and My friend who compiled my trailer, supplied her own original music. So no copyright issues with the music.

    I've never used powerpoint, though I do have that software with Windows 7. Not sure if I can figure it out.

  3. I enjoyed this. I also have worked to develop my own trailers and am working on one for my book, Flyboy. I think anything we can learn from each other is great. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Great start for a book trailer. I wrote a series of blog posts about creating book trailers. Here are three to support the great information in your post:

    Janis Friesler
    Assisting Authors Online

  5. This comment has been removed by the author.

  6. Hi Marie, thanks for sharing your book trailer it's really nice. I am working on a trailer for my book" All I Had Was Your Birth Certificate" I think I'll try author stream and see how it comes out.
    Best of luck with your book

  7. I've completed three book trailers. This is the link to the latest.

  8. Thank you so much. As a struggling writer, learning how to create for yourself is always helpful. I just followed your steps and created an awesome trailer for my book. Thank you soooo much! I learned, by myself, how to create e-books, so knowledge in the publishing world is always rewarding!


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