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Making a Picture Book Trailer with ProShow

Slideshow made in ProShow Producer 8

Today’s guest post comes from photographer and author David FitzSimmons

The key to launching a new book is widespread media presence. While reviews in magazines, newspapers, and trade journals are important, many publishers introduce new titles with a book trailer, something that can be easily created with ProShow.

Like a movie trailer, a short focused video about a new title can capture people’s attention and motivate them to pick up a copy; the key, however, is telling a bit about your work but not too much, and doing it in an engaging, dynamic way.

The trailer for my new book, Wakem the Rooster: Up All Night, was produced in ProShow. Our goal in putting the show together was to use strong visuals to demonstrate the theme of the book, to offer glimpses of the brilliant barnyard illustrations, and to highlight the book and its creators’ credentials. All of this, of course, is pointed toward getting people to go out and get the book.

Most picture books are thirty-two pages long. To keep the approximately two and one-half minute trailer moving at an engaging pace, we showed most of the artwork, albeit briefly and sometimes just showcasing only portions of scenes.

The trailer begins with a bold title, accompanied by opening bars of lively banjo-plucking music. Next comes a full view of the book’s cover. Strong, early views of the title and then the cover help make it clear what the book trailer is all about: a barnyard-based children’s picture book.

After establishing the subject, the trailer moves to the central problem of Wakem the Rooster: the book’s ebullient bird loves singing so much that he begins singing all day long…and then late into the night. Wakem eventually gets his days and nights mixed up and, as you can imagine, keeps everybody up all night.

As a change from the full-color images, we created silhouettes of Wakem singing, one in black and white and reversed out in white and black. The voiceover asks the book’s key question: “What happens when a rooster gets his days and nights mixed up?” During the words “mixed up,” the black and white/white and black silhouettes flash back and forth, creating a sense of confusion for the viewer that replicates the barnyard pandemonium.

Viewers then get a chance to see Wakem singing as two-page spreads are displayed with loud “cock-a-doodle-doos” screeching over them as text and on the sound track. The crowing is repeated to help highlight the now annoying crowing that is causing the farm animals to be up all night.

The middle section of the video hints at the book’s solution. Wakem turns to three friends – dog, cat, and wise old owl – for advice. Owl ultimately suggests “counting sheep.” The book’s theme is revealed: “Wakem the Rooster: Up All Night allows young readers to join Wakem the Rooster as he searches for his friends…and balance in his life.”

Of course, the solution to Wakem’s wake-sleep inversion is not as easy as just enumerating sheep. The trailer reaches its high point as the voice over asks, “Can a clever twist on age-old advice save the day?”

The trailer ends with credentials. References to author awards and Richard Cowdrey’s distinction of being a New York Time’s #1 best-selling illustrator precede book blurbs by three nationally known children’s writers:

“David FitzSimmons tells a sweet story of friendship and cooperation among farm animals…Richard Cowdrey’s animals are so appealing you will want to take them all on home with you.” -Ted and Betsy Lewin

“Delightful illustrations plus a gentle message about the importance of sleep add up to a picture book worth crowing about!” -Yona Zeldis McDonough, Author of The Bicycle Spy

“A sure parent’s choice when their “days and nights” seem to be mixed up.” -Tim Bowers, New York Times Best-selling children’s book illustrator

Like a movie trailer, the goal of a book video is to use catchy visuals, engaging music, arresting sound effects, and well-written narration to motivate viewers to take the next step: get a copy of the book. To achieve these goals, keep these five things in mind:

  • Ask yourself what your purpose is in creating the trailer. In our case, we want to motivate parents and grandparents to buy a copy of the book.
  • Write down an outline of the visuals with their accompanying music, sound effects, and voice overs. Visuals will be the most important part of the show.
  • Ask family, friends, colleagues, professional editors, and marketing experts to comment on your plan. Make revisions.
  • Create a catchy show that complements the work and your goals for the work. Then have family, friends, colleagues, and visual experts offer feedback. Make more revisions.
  • Finally, share your trailer through social media, newsletters, posts of reviewers, online retailer pages (such as an Amazon author page), and other outlets that will embed or link to your show.

To see more about Wakem the Rooster: Up All Night, visit the book’s web site, where, of course, the trailer is prominently featured.

Illustrations copyright Richard Cowdrey 2017. All rights reserved.

David FitzSimmons is a Sigma Pro photographer and prize-winning author. His Curious Critters children’s picture books have won 12 national book awards and sold 200,000 copies. David travels across North America teaching photographers how to improve their craft and working with school children, helping them connect to nature through photography. You can see more of David’s work at

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