Book Trailers: Good, Bad or Plain Silly?

Book trailers seem to be the latest craze. Everyone’s making one: authors, readers, fans, bloggers. Search ‘book trailer’ on Youtube and you come up with pages and pages of results. As an indie author looking to promote my latest book, I’m delving into the world of book trailers so here’s a break down of what I’ve learned do far.
Firstly, a book trailer is basically like a movie trailer but for a book. Of course, unlike a movie that has visual content, the visual content for the book must be generated either through using still imagery or live action. A book trailer includes a script, similar to the blurb but not necessarily the same, giving a breakdown of the story and enticing readers to read more. The script is probably the most important aspect of the book trailer whether presented as a voice over or as text.

1)  Book trailers seem to be extremely popular and thus would seem a good marketting idea especially for indie and self-published authors. Sign up for a blog tour and ‘book trailer’ is often one of the suggested inclusions. Check out Goodreads author pages and almost all of them have book trailers posted in the side bar, official and fan-made alike. Book trailers may not be essential yet, but they’re strongly recommended to generate interest in your book.

2) Book trailers can be made for free online. This is really enticing to poverty-stricken indie authors like me. The sites (the few I’ve investigated) seem to offer a certain amount of time for free, providing you with a neat little gui and a link to copyright free images and music. You then build your video using voice over (provided on a few more advanced sites) or text boxes played over a series of images and complete with soundtrack. Voila, in ten minutes you’ve got a book trailer.

Caveat One: You’re using a limited database of images and tunes so don’t be surprised when another six dozens book trailers all use the same images and music as yours. You are not unique.

Caveat Two: The finished product (if you’re not a film editor/visual artist) can look exactly like a sequence of images with text boxes stuck to a piece of music. Unprofessional, boring, and not the best way to market your book.

Caveat Three: Unless you know how to enunciate properly and have a decent accent, voice overs can start sounding plain ridiculous if you can even hear what you’re saying at all, never mind how contrived and silly the script can sound.

3) Nothing beats a little professionalism. Not many indie/self-published authors can probably afford to hire professional actors, directors and film editors, but a professional editor should be a serious consideration when producing your video. Also, try to find your *own* images. Do not steal and use images or music without paying the royalties. There are many ways to find unique images and music for your trailer.

Suggestion One: Contact your favourite stock artist on DeviantArt or a photography pal and ask them to create images specifically for your book trailer. Credit them. This way you get unique images and promote other artists.

Suggestion Two: Enlist the assistance of your muso  friends. Ask your favourite local indie band or your friends strumming away in a basement and ask them to write a track for your book trailer. Again, unique music and another way to promote a fellow artist.

Suggestion Three: If you have access to a drama club or know some budding actors/actresses who can have their performances recorded with decent euqipment then enlist their help for some live action scenes. Do not use live action in your book trailer if it looks like a five-minute cosplay act.

4) Book trailers can be good, bad and just plain silly. While I won’t show you what I consider bad and silly – I’m sure you can find exmaples on your own after about two minutes on Youtube – I will share the book trailers that I think pretty awesome.

Book Trailer One: Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs


Book Trailer Two: Insurgent by Veronica Roth

Book Trailer Three: Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi – created online by the author herself.

While more traditional marketting can be effective, a good book trailer can be even more effective, eliciting emotional responses by fans and even fan-made trailers which only adds to the hype around the book, which in turn, hopefully translates to more sales.

What are some of your favourite book trailers? Do you like the book trailer trend at all? Ever made a book trailer?

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