I hadn’t paid much attention to book trailers until very recently. I imagined they consisted of authors either beaming at the camera or looking painfully self-conscious saying how wonderful their book was. But then I actually started looking at some and saw how wrong I’d been. The ones that converted me were some of the ones posted here.

I noticed that several credited Animoto at the end. OK, I thought, I’d better check this out. So I went to the website.

Animoto describes itself as ‘a video slideshow maker with music’. It announces that you can “turn your photos, video clips, and music into stunning video masterpieces to share with everyone. Fast, free, and shockingly easy!” And it’s true. You can make a 30 second video – in fact, as many as you want – all for free. For $5 a month, you can make unlimited full length videos, and there are other paying packages on offer.

Since I’d unleashed Animal Rescue Club on the world via Smashwords that very morning, I decided to have a go and make a free book trailer for that.

So what did I do? First I chose my video style. There are 22 to choose from, and also 6 Christmas styles are still being offered. I opted for Watercolour Seashore.

Next I added some photos. You can add up to 12 for a 30 second video, or a snippet of video that you’ve made. You can also add text. The way the site is designed, it makes you upload the photos before the text (limited to two lines with 22 characters in the top one, and 35 in the bottom). What I didn’t realise at first, which resulted in a very weird first attempt video, was that you can shuffle the order of things around and intersperse your photos and text. To do this click the ‘shuffle’ icon at the right hand side.

Finally you add music. You can add some from your computer (be mindful of copyright if you do this) or use one of their suggested tracks. I went for this option and selected Go Girls by Coppertone. I imagine there is a way to presample the tracks, but I’ve yet to find it! I plumped for this tune unheard but it’s turned out to be fine.

Then you click the button to process your video, and you get a message that you can either keep the browser open or they’ll send you an email. I chose to sit and wait. It doesn’t take long at all.

So now I had my book trailer. I wanted to get it onto my Smashwords page. To do this I had to first upload it onto YouTube. I created my own channel, since this is something you need to do before. Then, by simply clicking the appropriate button on the right hand side of the Animoto screen, my video was sent across to YouTube. As easy as that!

But not quite finished. Smashwords needs a YouTube embed code, not the YouTube url of your video. I was perplexed, but typed ‘YouTube embed code’ into Google and that took me to this brilliant website. I entered the YouTube address in the box and the program, whatever it was, instantly generated several lines of code that I cut and pasted into the relevant area of Smashwords and saved and … voilà! Mission accomplished. You can see the final results here by scrolling down the page a little way.

I have to say I feel immensely proud of myself since I’m pretty hopeless with computers generally but I sorted this out all by myself! Go me! (And a HUGE thank you go all the clever people who write the programs to make this all possible for nulles like me.)

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