From BookTrailer101™ - Learn how to create a Book Trailer
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Step 5. Acquire Media


Acquiring media is a challenge. Copyright law prevent use of just any song or image. While free is nice I tend to look for low cost. This is a collection of free and low cost sources I have found. Be careful on the web. If an image has a watermark behind it that is not a free image. Someone just downloaded and placed it in a library. Having your trailer pulled from YouTube for copyright violation is not fun. It can also be a pain in the pocket.

  • As you acquire media (images, music...) keep a copy of the receipt or other permission so that if you are challenged later you have your documented permission to use them. As an example if a friend gives me an image to use I make the request in an email outlining what I am going to do with it and then print their reply with their permission.
  • Be VERY CAREFUL using music with lyrics. One of the worst book trailers I have ever seen took the back cover paragraph and showed the words a few at a time as titles over three minutes then used music with lyrics. No matter how many times I watched the trailer I could not follow the words with lyrics being sung.

Creative Commons (CC) license

A Creative Commons (CC) license is a popular public copyright licenses that defines the free distribution of a copyrighted work. With CC the author can define how a work can be used and under what conditions.

For creating book trailers the most useful are the first two, public domain and attribution. Attribution means you have to publicly create creator of the work. This is done after the directive, at the end of the trailer. Be careful of non-commercial. A book trailer is a promotional video which is promoting your book, thus you’re using it for a commercial advantage and could not use a work with a NonCommercial restriction. When in doubt, just ask the licensor. Creative Commons has a page explaining NonCommercial use:

The various licenses available and their meaning. (Table from Creative Commons website

Icon Acronym Meaning


No Copyright


You can use the work for anything as the creator has dedicated it to the public domain.
By.png Attribution


This license lets you to distribute, remix, tweak, and build upon the work, even commercially, as long as you credit the original creation. This is the most accommodating of licenses offered.
By-nd.png Attribution-NoDerivs


This license allows for redistribution, commercial and non-commercial, as long as it is passed along unchanged and in whole, with credit to original creator.

By-nc-sa.png Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike


This license lets you remix, tweak, and build upon the work non-commercially, as long as you credit the original creator and license your new creations under the identical terms.
By-sa.png Attribution-ShareAlike


This license lets you remix, tweak, and build upon the work even for commercial purposes, as long as you credit the original creator and license your new creations under the identical terms.
By-nc.png Attribution-NonCommercial


This license lets you remix, tweak, and build upon the work non-commercially, and although your new works must also acknowledge the original creator and be non-commercial, you don’t have to license your derivative works on the same terms.
By-nc-nd.png Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs


This license is the most restrictive of our six main licenses, only allowing you to download the work and share it with others as long as you credit the original creator, but you can’t change the work in any way or use it commercially.

NonCommercial Europe may use Nc-eu.png while Japan may use Nc-jp.png
For details visit:

Once you use a work you need to attribute it in the trailer. Credits are usually at the very end after the directive. You need to list:

  1. Title - Name of the work such as song title.
  2. Author - Name of the person who created the work.
  3. Source - Where can the work be found? Usually the URL of the site where the music came from.
  4. License - Such as CC BY for a work that requires attribution.


"Got Funk" Kevin MacLeod (
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0

Creative Commons Resources

If you are purchasing images, video or music you often do not have to credit the work. Look at the terms and conditions when you are looking at using a piece of media.


Large library of music. For a book trailer credit Kevin and there is no cost. CC BY
McCoy Productions has a superb page with many sources and details.
  • Discovered dig.ccmixter while researching the Bookmans Does Book Dominoes (Bookstore) trailer.


Stock Footage

Equipment to Create Your Own Media

Smartphone Tripods

Smartphones are convenient as you carry them. To quote Mike Helms "The best equipment is what you have with you." In other words, you may have a better camera, tripod, mic… at home, but if you don’t have it with you, it is not the best for the job. This is why I find myself moving to smaller and smaller equipment that is easier to carry.

The Financial Post (Oct 5, 2013) did an article on the decline of cameras - "Point, shoot, collapse: Why big camera companies are the next BlackBerry."

The challenge is smartphones are engineered to make phone calls, not to shoot video. Joby has a line of tiny tripods for holding a smartphone.

In Use Joby GripTight with Micro Stand
Joby GripTight with Micro Stand
Folded Joby GripTight with Micro Stand

USB Microphones

I have many microphones, each with a purpose in mind based on the design. In the past few years there has been a growth in the USB microphone. These are mics designed to be plugged into the USB port of a computer. I use a Samson C01U USB Studio Mic. It was one of the first.

Samson C01U USB Studio Mic

The challenge is monitoring. Digital mics take time to process the signal and send to the computer. Plug headphones into the computer and you head the sound as you record slightly delayed. It is horrible to use for monitoring.

C01U Pro

Next came mics with a headphone jack. Now you can plug the headphone into the mic and head realtime. C01U Pro

G-Track in use.png

The latest is the G-Track mic with a headphone jack as well as an instrument line in.

Smartphone Microphones

Smartphones have a limited microphone. Companies like Rode and Belkin make mics that can be plugged into a smartphone to give superior sound.

Rode SmartLav Mic

Using the same microphone technology that audio professionals use, the LiveAction Mic attaches to your smartphone’s audio jack to instantly elevate your sound-recording capabilities. Select the Directional setting to capture the multi-layered sound typical of concerts and live events, and the Super-Directional setting to record lectures and memos with optimal clarity. Simply pick your setting, point and start recording professional-quality audio.

Belkin LiveAction Mic

The smartLav is a professional-grade wearable microphone designed for use in a wide range of film, television and broadcast scenarios, or wherever professional quality audio is required in a discreet, portable format without the complication and expense of additional wireless equipment. With the smartLav the user simply mounts the microphone on the talent, connects it to a smartphone or tablet headset jack and records via the RØDE Rec app for iOS, or any other audio app of their choice.

GoPro Cameras

GoPro is a popular class of action cameras designed to be worn or connected to equipment. This presents a popular first person perspective to the video.

One of my hobbies is skatebikes. A GoPro mounted on the downtube gives a reference element to a video.

GoPro mounted on the downtube of a Skatebike

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