Guest Post: How To Make a Chilling Book Trailer by RED RIBBONS author Louise Philips

Today Catherine, Caffeinated is delighted to be hosting a stop on the blog tour celebrating the launch of Louise Philips’ novel, Red Ribbons. Louise is a talented new voice in Irish crime fiction and today she’s here to tell us how she went about making her very creepy book trailer. Welcome, Louise!

“Making a trailer for your novel is a relatively new concept in Ireland, but it was one I was very interested in checking out early in the promotional build up to the publication of my psychological crime thriller Red Ribbons, mainly because …

  1. We are now living in a very visual world.
  2. Videos tend to be short – 30-50 seconds, and are ideal for promoting online via twitter, Facebook etc
  3. They are an excellent way to give a flavour/mood/genre of your novel, relatively instantly.

So where do you begin? Start with the basics:

1. Sketch out a story map of what you want to happen in the trailer – remember you only have a maximum 50 seconds and you want to pack in as much as possible within this.

For example, in the trailer for Red Ribbons, I came up with the concept of using footage from driving up a mountain road, to alternate between the other visual images. You don’t have to draw small sketches, you could simply write down:

  • Intro image/video
  • Follow up image/ images
  • Closing image
  • Information you want to end trailer with –
  • Links to your blog/website, and/or your Twitter account.

2. Once you’ve done this, you can start compiling your content. I used my iphone for all the images and short video content. If you don’t have editing software on your pc, and most people don’t, keep your video clips short, 3-7 seconds max, which means you avoid the need to cut content later.

Compile as many photographic images and video clips as you can. You will probably use less than 5% in the final trailer.

Play around with a few concepts/angles. Not every concept is going to work, and it’s never any harm to have extra material.

Review your content, deciding on which photographs and/or video footage work best.

 3. Having selected the top visual content, you have a couple of options for putting together the final trailer.

Option A:

The first option, is using a standard software which you can download for free/or for a small nominal fee, for example Animoto. This is not the only software option available, but it is the one I used for the first promotional test trailer, above.

You must also choose your package carefully, based on end commercial use – check all terms and conditions.

You will notice the above trailer includes images and very short trailer clips.

The way this works is, you load your images, and/or video clips, and text, making up the full length time of 30 – 50 seconds.

You choose your music from the Animoto listing (these are tracks which can be used as part of the overall Animoto package), and then the software will put all the content together within a set visual format.

You can try a number of options, and once you decide on which presentation suits you, simply SAVE your trailer.

Option B: 

Another option is the one I used for the second and official trailer for Red Ribbons, above.

With this option, editing software and a knowledge of using it is required. I was lucky; my daughter had this facility, and was able to help me put all the components together.

Ask around, someone you know might be able to help you out.

This option which used only video footage meant sourcing the music separately.

There are many music sites with free download music, but remember, you are not simply downloading and using this for your own enjoyment, you are going to use the music in a commercial environment. So again, check out all rules and regulations associated with all download sites.

I used Music by , but there are other sites available. With this particular site, you are requested to credit them with the music as part of the trailer set up, and make an optional donation for use.

Once your trailer is complete you can upload onto YouTube or Vimeo – and you can create your own channel, another good idea if you are going to be making additional trailers.

I got an amazing reaction to both trailers, and I was over the moon when all the main book selling sites in Ireland asked to upload it onto their individual websites. It was also picked up by book review sites here and in the UK, and formed part of the media element of my website

With the publication of Red Ribbons on the 3rd September, to date there has been in excess of 900 viewings on the two trailers, and an immense about of positive feedback

The very best of luck in creating your own trailer – it’s great fun.”

Thanks, Louise! If you’d like to find out more about Red Ribbons, visit Louise’s website or go here to order your copy now

For more examples of book trailers, visit my Videos page

11 thoughts on “Guest Post: How To Make a Chilling Book Trailer by RED RIBBONS author Louise Philips

  1. Normandie Fischer says:

    I’ve researched trailers for my own work and for the books we publish. Fortunately, we now have an on-staff person who makes them for the company, but I’ll have to create one of my own when my book releases. Thanks for posting about the process. Very helpful, especially that bit about short videos footage.

  2. joycescrimesheet says:

    In my video book trailer, I too have them driving along (which happened in the story) but I also have inserted selected dialogue from the book. That way the viewer gets a visual of what happened in the book and a sample of my writing.

    I recently took my trailer, along with a 20″ monitor, to a book fair in a town where I knew no one and no one knew me. I did pretty well and ALL of the books that I sold were because of my trailer.

    I don’t agree that it needs to be 30-50 seconds. Movie trailers aren’t that short. Mine is almost 3 minutes and it doesn’t seem that long because it tells a story. You can make a shorter version too if you feel like that is appropriate for certain venues. (I actually have a longer version)

    Here is the link to my book trailer for “Escaping the Arroyo” if you are interested.

  3. mwheelaghan says:

    I am intending to make a trailer for my new crime novel, Food of Ghosts, and this is very helpful. Thanks. Interestingly enough I’d already come across the Red Ribbons trailer, which I loved. Thnaks again – and thanks too to joycescrimesheet for your suggestions 🙂

  4. Keri Peardon says:

    I read somewhere that they should be 2 minutes or less. Mine is 1:10, plus the credits (tops out at 1:36). I think 1-2 minutes is a good preview time. Not too long to get boring or to be too complicated to make, but long enough to give a good taste of your book.

    I used Windows Media Maker on Vista, free music from Incompetech ( and free pictures from WikiCommons and MorgueFiles (–which is not as dark and gruesome as it sounds.

    I ended up pretty pleased with what I did less than 24 hours after playing with Movie Maker for the first time (I was in a bit of a rush because I wanted to release the video the day before my book came out). I’m working on the trailer for my next novel and hope to have it up soon so there’s time to generate interest BEFORE I publish it.

  5. Ryan Casey says:

    This is a brilliant post. As an author launching my debut novel over the next few months, a book trailer is something I’m interested in exploring but was never really sure how to go about the process step-by-step.

    I’ve had some video and editing experience in the past, but the whole thing just seemed a little too overwhelming to return with, what with all the blogging and writing on my plate nowadays.

    This is really helpful, though, so much so that I am considering a trailer again. Thanks to Catherine for sharing, and to Louise for the post. Good work on the Red Ribbons trailer too, by the way! Looks very intriguing.


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