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HOWMy first HOW TO… tutorial…inspired by the How television series, back in the seventies. A longer version of this tutorial can be found in Indies Unlimited: Tutorials and Tools for Prospering in a Digital World, so if you want to learn all sorts of wonderful ways to improve your social media skills, grab a copy. Details at the bottom of this tutorial.

How to make a book trailer video (or any video) for free!

Every author needs a book trailer but is it worth employing someone to make one for you? I spent hours fooling about with Windows trying to make a reasonable video. I finally came up with a very average one, that took more time to make than it took to write my book.

Imagine then, my pleasure, when I stumbled across http://www.animoto.com. I am still a bit of a Luddite when it comes to technological mysteries, but Animoto is very easy to use. Now, remember I am a “numpty” and I am also very old, so be patient as I attempt to explain how to use this great site.

First log on to www.animoto.com. You can join the site through your Facebook account, which is what I did. You are presented with the option of paying for lengthy videos. Ignore that bit for the moment. You can have as many free thirty second videos as you want, it seems. Thirty seconds is probably just enough for a book trailer. Ideally, book trailers should be no longer than sixty seconds. Apparently, forty-five seconds is the optimum, however, opinions on this subject differ.

Thirty seconds is not a lot of time, so you need to be prepared for your video. I suggest you have three to four photos that you feel will help sell your novel, along with two to three frames of words.

First, you must choose the style of your video. You will be presented with a few choices. You can click onto each choice and watch it then decide which one you favour. There is something for everyone.


I chose the Retro Wheel – only because I used to own one of these, and it sort of went with the feeling of fun I wanted to convey in my video. Click the Make a 30 second video for free indicated by the red arrows above.

You are then given a blank screen with four choices on the left hand side. They are pretty self explanatory. You can add pictures, music, and text or change the style of the whole video for a different one. It couldn’t be simpler. If you upload a photo or picture from your computer it places it onto the blank ‘editing board’ for you.


Upload your photos or pictures by clicking on the Add Pics & Vids button. You can choose to upload from a variety of places, including Facebook or your computer.


You will be able to place them on your “editing board”. You can move them about into any order.


Place your cursor over the bottom right hand corner of your pictures. A small wheel will appear. Click on it if you want to caption your picture.



If you want to add text separately, click on the Add Text box:


You only get 22 characters worth of text in the Header box and 30 characters in the bottom box so don’t type too much. This will then also be displayed on your “editing board”.


If you wish to edit any of the pictures/boxes on your editing board, click on the bottom left corner of the box you want to change, and you can make any alterations.

If you want to put your boxes or “scenes” into a different order, click and drag them to where you want to position them. If you wish to discard one, click and drag it to below the editing board, where you can then delete it by clicking on the dustbin button on the right hand side.


The top left hand grey counter on your editing board alerts you to how much time you have left on your video. It will also tell you when you have too many pictures or scenes and have run out of seconds. If it can’t fit your last picture or text box in, it will automatically throw it out for you.


Once you are happy with your scenes, you will want to choose some appropriate music. There is a decent choice for your video. By clicking on Change Music you will be offered a variety of styles to go with your video.


Having chosen Birthdays or Travel or indeed another category, you will offered further options, all of which you can listen to before choosing the one that best suits your video. You can even upload your own music if you prefer.


When you are happy with your attempt and are ready to see the version you have created, press the large green button on the left hand side marked Produce Video. It will take about thirty seconds to produce a preview of your video to watch. If you are not happy with it, press the Continue Editing grey button underneath it, and you will be taken back to the editing process.

If you like what you see, you will be able to produce the video by clicking the Produce button – a professional video lasting thirty seconds is then yours.

Just so you can see what I managed in less than half an hour, here is a link to my first video, and then another to my more professional second video, that took even less time to make.


!) http://animoto.com/play/Zj6kLX0pxj8t6kpm5upijQ

2) http://animoto.com/play/s5MHM6dNLv0X04hdJGGr7A

Animoto is incredibly addictive and there are advanced features on it that I haven’t discussed here. Just play about and see what you come up with. It has its limitations but it is a terrific start for a novice who wants a trailer to support their work.

So, that’s my first HOW TO…tutorial. If you want to find out much much more then check out this really useful guide. Available from Smashwords, Amazon UK Amazon US and Barnes & Noble.

IU-Tutorial-ebook-leather-NEWIndies Unlimited: Tutorials and Tools for Prospering in a Digital World.