If there’s one thing that’s a dead giveaway that your book trailer was not done by a professional, it’s those pesky black bars on either side of your photos or video. There are a lot of book trailers out there with this issue, but the good news is that it’s actually a really easy fix and will bring your book trailer from “meh” to “wow!”

What are those black bars? And how can you get rid of them?

I whipped up some examples for you to see. These are not actual book trailer screenshots because I am not the type of person who wants to shame anybody. There are literally hundreds of book trailers out there with this mistake, and so you’re not alone. But I’m here to help you make your book trailer better so yours can stand out from the crowd and look really professional! You’re an author first: likely not a professional video editor. Yet, you are expected to market your own book. With my help and some of your own elbow grease, we’ll give your book trailer a competitive edge!

First, we identify the problem then come up with the solution. Let’s take a look at three examples I made:

Example 1: Side Bars

Before: Notice the black bars on either side
After: Notice how the winter background goes all the way to both the left and right edges

those pesky black bars on either side of your photos or video are a dead giveaway that your book trailer wasn’t done by a professional.

Example 2: Side Bars with Top + Bottom Slivers

Before: It has the sidebars, but also isn’t the correct height so there are two slivers of black above and below the video
After: Now the viewer can speed down this snowy road with you!

Example 3: Black Picture Frame

Before: This one fits in the center of the black area with large spaces of black all around
After: With the landscape sweeping all the way to either side, we really can take in that beautiful view!

So now that we see the problem, how can we fix it? We need to look at two things: Aspect Ratio and Resolution.

What is Aspect Ratio?

Aspect ratio is how wide it is versus how tall. (Like a Rectangle) For width and height you want the ratio to be 16 (wide) X 9 (tall).

ratio to make your book trailer

you want the aspect ratio of your video Clips to be 16:9.

What is Resolution?

Resolution is the actual size of your video, and we measure it in units called pixels. The resolution will depend on how high quality your video clips are. For YouTube it’s best to make your resolution 1280 X 720 Pixels.

How to change the size of your video clips depends on what video editing program you are using. Some programs let you freely transform the video so you can drag the corner of your video and make it bigger or smaller.

If you would be interested in having me make a video tutorial on how to change the aspect ratio and resolution of your video clips, please request it by leaving a comment below and let me know what software you are using!

Pro Tip

One more final thought: sometimes you’ll see black bars on the top and bottom of a video. This is a very cinematic and strategic effect. It’s called a “Letterbox” – and there are different sizes you can employ. If your footage doesn’t look good to you at 16:9 ratio, still make your video 1280 X 720 pixels but add a letterbox!

I hope this article helped you! With this one change, you can really increase the quality of your book trailer and make an eye-catching professional looking video! For more tips, please visit our book trailer guide here.

10 things to include in your book trailer.
10 Things to Include in Your Book Trailer

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