Conference Challenge #5: The Reverse Book Trailer

Happy Wednesday, everyone!

Helping me with today’s challenge is the lovely Chieu Urban, who is offering the following helpful tips for creating book trailers!


Have you ever thought about making your own book trailer? It’s easier than you think.  There is a wonderful online software available that is useful for putting together book trailers, and you don’t need to have any software experience to pull off a professional look.

For my book trailer, I used Animoto.

You may also want to check out One True Media, as they offer more templates.

Start off by choosing a plan – I decided to pay for the one month PRO plan of $39, and it allows your video to be created at a higher resolution.   Have pictures and videos ready and choose a template. From there, you may select from their music library or download your own.  Drop your images into place and plug in your text.  Please note that the videos are added in short clips, and that was the biggest limitation. I had to piece my videos together.

I designed my trailer for RAINDROPS: A SHOWER OF COLORS in about four hours total.  I had a lot of images to upload.  I wanted a trailer that would be entertaining for preschoolers with a fun party feel to it.  Here it is if you would like to check it out.

My friend, Salina Yoon, created this great trailer using Animoto for her book KALEIDOSCOPE. She is an award-winning and best-selling author and truly, amazing talent! I love the magical feel in her trailer that works so well with book.  Please note she uses only images. There are no videos in this trailer.

You can try out a free trial and play around with it before purchasing a plan. Good luck. If you create a trailer, please share with us!


Thanks, Chieu! And because of your advice, I decided to use Animoto when doing the trailer for JUST FLIRT.

You’re right, it is easy . . . Correction: COULD be easy, if you don’t overcomplicate things like I did by obsessing over finding perfect images, obsessing over landing the perfect transitions between images, deleting your first posted trailer because it was too long, and then starting the whole agonizingly obsessive process all over again!

And you seriously don’t want to know how long it took me.

Let’s just say it was more than four hours . . .

I also ended up spending way, way, WAY too much money on images that only ended up being cut, which really, really, REALLY bugs me because I hate wasting money! So I got to thinking. The images are already bought. I can’t return them, so what creative way could I get some use out of them?

Wait. I know! I can torture my fellow SCBWI’ers with them!

*Sigh.* I just love torturing you.

So with that, here’s WRITING CHALLENGE #5: The Reverse Book Trailer

That’s right, I want you to write a short synopsis based on the images, music, and style of this book trailer that took me only minutes to create and is made from photographs I didn’t use:

Have fun with this one, and DON’T THINK TOO MUCH!

[Edited to add: If you need better explanation of this assignment or would like to see an example, then read the comments for this post!]

And  for our artist friends, our lovely regional illustrator coordinator, Susan Detwiler, is providing your . . .


Depict an object or scene and use color and lighting to set the emotional mood.


Happy drawing and illustrating, everyone! And if you’re like me and need to catch up with the previous challenges, here’s the links:

Conference Challenge #1 – Voice or Point of View?

Conference Challenge #2 – Why do you love it?

Conference Challeng #3 – Give yourself a WooHoo!

Conference Challenge #4 – Speed Plotting

Conference Challenge #5: The Reverse Book Trailer


About Laura Bowers

Laura is a writer, runner, reader, runDisney addict, blogger/vlogger at Write, Run, Rejoice and Joyful Miles, mom of two awesome boys, wife of one fantastic husband, excellent chili maker, and obsessive list keeper. She loves run-on sentences and adverbs. She also still thinks Spice World was an awesome movie and feels no shame about that.
This entry was posted in Writing & Drawing Exercises. Bookmark the permalink.

21 Responses to Conference Challenge #5: The Reverse Book Trailer

  1. Laura, great trailer! The trailer itself was a flirt!

    • Laura Bowers says:

      Thanks, Chieu!! 🙂 I’m even now inspired to do one for Beauty Shop for Rent, seeing as how I paid for a month’s worth on Animoto Pro.

  2. akismet-5abab8018d85b510392f3dfd8c241ea4 says:

    Believe it or not, I had NO idea that trailers were something done for books and not just for movies. A trailer for a movie though is a teaser; these trailers seem to be sorta quickie versions of the book. Since I don’t really understand what a trailer is, coming up with a synopsis based on the trailer images is just stumping me. Anyone care to jump in and explain some of this to this newbie?

    • Laura Bowers says:

      Trailers are very popular now. Do they help book sales? Maybe yes, maybe no, you really can never pinpoint where your sales come from. Not all trailers offer quickie versions, though. Some are set up to be just teasers, like these fabulous examples:

      Jeri Smith-Ready did a great job creating this one herself on her Mac’s iMovie:

      I absolutely love this one for Wintergirls, by Laurie Halse Anderson!

      Here’s a good example:

      And of course I have to add this one just because it’s so dang funny!

      For this challenge, however, I do want you to write a short synopsis using either literal or vague inspirations from the images. It doesn’t have to be long – just a paragraph is great! List the images and what it could represent: A microphone. A racing helmet. Yellow bike. Golf cheater. Swings. Little kids. Finish line. Tiara. Then think of what kind of story you could cook up with that, like:

      Shy, awkward Maggie Henson is devastated when her karaoke-loving mother loses all their money on a NASCAR race bet by a swindling broker. When their car is repossed, the girl has no choice but to ride her bike everywhere, much to the amusement of a rich senior named Dalton Jones. Maggie gets a job at a local park, where Dalton is sentenced to do community service. After they must work together to find two boys who get lost in the woods, Dalton helps Maggie hunt down the cheating broker who took all her mother’s money. In the process, they fall in love and go to prom where Maggie is crowned queen.

      Okay, the ending is a bit cliche, but this took me about five minutes to do. So have fun with this one and let your imagination fly!

      Hope this all helps. 🙂

  3. Pingback: Conference Challenge #1: Voice or Point of View? « As the Eraser Burns

  4. akismet-5abab8018d85b510392f3dfd8c241ea4 says:

    Thanks, Laura, that was a huge help. I guess it all makes perfect sense… guess I need to get my nose into something beyond the New York Times Book Review or the shelves at Barnes and Noble!

    I took a shot at it. had to rearrange the sequence a little bit. Sort of an exercise in stream of consciousness and gestalt therapy!

    Definitely took a little more than five minutes, though… 🙂

    • Laura Bowers says:

      Rearranging the sequence is totally allowable! And congrats for completing the exercise! You never know what may come of these. 🙂

  5. Miranda McClain says:

    Here is mine. I too changed the order up a bit.

    With the Miss Teen Maryland pageant just around the corner Meredith can think of little else other than practicing her song for the talent competition and keeping herself fit. But when her golf pro uncle gets caught cheating and needs an emergency long term babysitter for her out of control twin cousins, Meredith offers to help out. In the meantime she manages to fall for the dare devil boy next door. With all these distractions how will Meredith find time to prepare for the pageant? Then an accident at the playground lands one of the twins in the hospital and Meredith is forced to decide what her true priorities are.

    • Laura Bowers says:

      Awesome, Miranda! And here I was starting to worry that I pushed the difficulty level too far with this challenge. You nailed it! Great job. 🙂

      • Miranda McClain says:

        Thanks, this challenge was fun. Actually, so far they’ve all been fun thanks for the inspiration.

  6. Ellen B. Cutler says:

    So here’s mine. Not really a synopsis… But I’ll get the hang of it eventually… I love it that Miranda and I both invoked “twins” and a bad boy…

    It was all so easy, like the flick of a finger that turns a bogie into the winning par, like the sprained ankle that sidelines the cheerleader and sets the tiara on the head of the girl no one even wanted to take to Prom. It was so easy to be the butterfly for once.

    The yellow bike had been Dana’s trusty transportation, reliable for a ride when her parents weren’t, dependable both on pavement and the shortcut through the woods. She didn’t drive, didn’t even have a learner’s permit. “You don’t need to drive yet,” her parents said. “You can get everywhere you need to go on your bike.”

    That was true.

    “Besides, we can’t afford to get a second car for you to drive.”

    That was also true.

    “Teenage drivers are unsafe. That’s why we don’t allow you to ride around with your friends.”

    Dana suspected maybe that was true, too.

    Then it all changed.

    One minute she was sitting on a swing at the park, mesmerized by the back-and-forth, staring into the lines her feet drew in the sand. She was vaguely aware of the Jacobsen twins leaping on the grass nearby, seeing who could jump the highest. The next minute she was sitting in the passenger seat of Drake’s black sports car. Drake was a star, his resonant baritone making even a passing comment sound like something special. He really should have been on the radio. Or television.

    “I’ll teach you to drive,” he said. Then he winked. “Over at the track. No one will see us there.”

    It really was so easy.

    • Miranda McClain says:

      Yours was great Ellen!

      • Laura Bowers says:

        FABULOUS JOB, Ellen! Wow, you even brought out the element of sand that was in the video’s template. Great job and I hope you continue with this because it feels as though it’s resonating in you! 🙂

      • Ellen B. Cutler says:

        Thanks Miranda and Laura! Gosh, I think I’m blushing! Definitely something outside of my usual activity, seeing as how my writing tends to focus on nonfiction. Feeling–what do the English say?–rather chuffed!

  7. Okay, this was a fun challenge, but it took me longer than 5 minutes to come up with my “quick” synopsis (about 8 hours longer)! The biggest challenge for me was that the video images really fit quite well with my current novel. I wanted to come up with something different for the challenge (not just the same idea I’ve been working on already), so I had to stop and do some research before I could come up with a new plot. Then, once I started thinking about it, I wanted to write the whole story! I had to keep stopping and going back, to remind myself that this is only a synopsis!

    Here’s what I finally came up with:

    Pacific Grove, California, with its pristine beaches and fancy country clubs, is the perfect place for a “princess” to grow up. Too bad 14-year-old Mariposa Sanchez never wanted to be a princess. When all of the other little girls were playing dress-up and fighting over who got to be Cinderella, Mari was racing (and beating) the boys on her beat-up, yellow bicycle and challenging them to see who could jump the farthest from the swings at the park. These days, she’d rather spend her afternoons helping her grandfather rebuild classic car engines in his garage than sunbathing on the beach or poolside with the other girls. So when her mom announces that she’ll be having a butterfly ball, complete with ball gowns and tiaras, to celebrate her upcoming 15th birthday, Mari is less than thrilled.

    Mari meets Sebastian James, the son of her father’s biggest client, at the ballroom dance class she’s forced to take in preparation for the ball. Neither of them want to be there, and they hit it off immediately. Sebastian invites Mari to go with him to a race at the Leguna Seca Speedway, and she discovers a love for Nascar. But Mari’s mother dreams of her becoming the Next Top Model, not the next Danica Patrick. With Sebastian’s help, Mari has to find some way to convince her mother that “real girls” can drive race cars too.

    In the end, they compromise on a Butterflies and Pitstop Princess Ball for her birthday.

    (Yes, I realize that my ending is a little bit cheesy and cliche at this point. It will be better once I actually write the story. And I will write the story!)

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  12. Still trying to get four challenges done–at least–now that my homework is done for Edie:) Thanks for the great info on book trailers. I’ve been hearing a lot about these, but didn’t know how to do it! Fun challenge:)

    All her life she was daddy’s little princess. She was tired of being the perfect daddy’s girl. She was tired of riding her bike to the golf range every day after school. Her father, the manager of the local Go-Kart Track and Recreation Park, dreamed of her becoming a golf pro. Jennifer had other ideas. She dreamed of running off to Nashville—of singing—anywhere and everywhere she could. The only thing that kept her from leaving was her twin brothers. Who would care for them if she left? Sixteen-year-old Jennifer had a feeling this would be the summer the summer that changed everything.

  13. Pingback: How to make a book trailer using Animoto

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