Nano inspiration: Animoto

This entry is part 15 of 16 in the series NaNoWriMo success and inspiration

Warning: if you’re not done with Nano (or don’t have a comfortable bumper), you might want to file this away to read and experiment with another day.

If you are done with Nano (or nearly so), I have a free plotting/revision roadmap which you can get just by signing up for my newsletter (which is also pretty awesome, if I do say so myself).

All right, with that out of the way, today’s little bit of inspiration comes courtesy of my friend Deanna Henderson. She taught a class on creating a book trailer for free using Animoto at an online conference from iWriteNetwork last month. It took me 45 minutes to an hour total to make trailers for this year’s and last year’s Nano novels—once again, I didn’t bother with the instructional video, and hunting down good photos takes time.

Here’s last year’s Nano novel trailer:

Animoto offers paid options, which let you make longer videos, download your videos to your computer and generally just more, but the free options will let you create a 30-second video with your own photos, music and script and share it on the Internet. Not bad for free!

Here are the instructions from Deanna’s blog, with [commentary from me]:

These can be for anything; book trailers, author profiles, blog tours etc… let your imagination be your guide.

Step 1: Register your account. Go to

Step 2: Choose a style/template for your video [Note that the templates marked “Pro” are not offered in the free plan. Stick to the ones without the “Pro” label. I used Water for the one above, and Inkwell for this year’s.]

Step 3: Click on the small type below the purchase button that says Make a 30 second video for free

Step 4: – OPTIONAL – Watch the Animoto tutorial video, or close the box, continue to step 5

Step 5: Add pictures and/or video clips **Only use pictures you own the copyright for** [Big, HUGE life-changing tip: you can find FREE, licensed photos on Flickr (and several other places). You can use the advanced search’s Creative Commons options, or you can simply to go this search link and type in your query. If this is a book trailer, be sure you’re using works that are licensed for commercial use. Some of the photos require you to attribute the photos; I do this in the description section of the video for all the photos in order. You’re welcome.]

Step 6: Add desired text. [I’m just full of the hints today! It seems you can get more “slides” if you skip the Header portion.]

Step 7: Drag text to desired location. [You can drag and drop the elements of your video.]

Step 8: Add music. [Seems like a lot of the music that comes with Animoto is super upbeat, so if your novel isn’t, may I recommend “Redrum” by Ugress? For the video at the top, I used a song I licensed for something else.]

Step 9: Preview your video, it will take a minute to buffer first, be patient. When you watch it this time, the quality isn’t as high as it will be in the final product, don’t worry.

Step 10: Title your video, and give a description. [Where I put the photo and music credits]

Step 11: Click the Produce button.







Step 12: Now you can watch your video!

On the video’s display page, there are also buttons and links to share your video via Facebook, Twitter, and email. If you want to embed your video on your site (like I have here), Click on the “More” button beside the other sharing buttons. From there you have options to share via Pinterest, Twitter and a few popular blogging platforms. You can also use the “Embedded video” tab at the top of the popups to get the code.

Last year’s video only took a few minutes because I only had to find 2 new photos, plus one I’d already Pinned. This year’s took much longer with all the image and music hunting. I’ve already shared this year’s video, but here it is again:

Make your own photo slideshow at Animoto.

And the truth is: I totally watched this when my motivation was lagging as I was writing the MS. I think it’s especially helpful for that purpose because it gets down to the core conflict that made me want to write the book in the first place, so it was a great source of inspiration for me. I tracked down the song as well, since it had become linked with the book in my mind, and found it was free to download. So when that came up in my playlist, I was motivated all over again.

What do you think? Would you use Animoto for your inspiration video, or your book trailer? Come join in the conversation!

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