Trailers or teasers have long been used to promote movies. Now publishers and authors are using trailers to promote books on the web.
Trailers are a form of content marketing, so they should not come off as an advertisement but rather as a piece of entertainment that promotes.
I’ve recently produced some book trailers and I want to share a few tips for getting quality results with tight budgets. The reality of most book marketing budgets means that one must create more with less.
People in the book business tell me that books sell because of a) the topic or genre and b) the author. That being said, a trailer can help sell a book by engaging people emotionally. People remember and act upon things that trigger feelings. Furthermore, video is highly discoverable in Internet search results.
While it’s easy to follow the familiar format of film trailers, I don’t think one must slavishly emulate that format. Books are not films. They can be promoted with short documentaries (especially non-fiction books) or voice-over narration for a scene from the book. Anything goes as long as it draws viewers into the story and creates that ‘want to read’ feeling.
Whether you do-it-yourself or hire a professional, here are some tips for good results:
Tip 1: Answer the question, “What’s the hook”?
Identify the hooks or selling points and use them to inform the trailer’s content. Is the book written by a popular author? Is the book written in a recognizable genre? Does the story raise intriguing questions that are answered in the book?
Tip 2: Choose an appropriate format, style, and tone.
The book’s cover design can guide the trailer’s tone and style. Maintaining consistency between the book and the trailer is good for branding. To further inform the trailer’s style and tone, answer these questions: What is the book’s category (fiction or non-fiction)? Who is the audience (by demographics and interests)? What is the genre (mystery, humor, thriller, etc.)? What is the tone (light and funny or dark and suspenseful)?
Tip 3: Work within your budget.
Be realistic about your budget and choose the highest quality approach for the money. It’s better to have great stills and illustrations than poorly done live action or cheap looking animation. If the book itself has illustrations or photographs, use these to create the trailer. It will ensure visual consistency with the book which is, again, good for branding.
Tip 4: Show the book cover.
This is obvious. However, I have seen a few trailers that did not show the book.
Tip 5: Use a call to action.
The trailer should feature the book title (with an image of the book cover), the name of the author, and a website URL where people can buy the book. You can even include a link and a call to action to ‘buy now’ or ‘download now’.
To provide an example, here is a trailer I made for a tween adventure book. Working with a tight budget, I used some of the book’s illustrations combined with live footage I shot for a related documentary. To create dynamics I used image motion and layering. The music befits the adventure genre. Have a look.
Tip 6: Spread the video.
It’s a mistake to only post the trailer on the publisher’s or author’s website. This misses the goal of driving traffic to where people can buy the book. Seed the trailer on relevant book review sites, platforms like YouTube and Facebook, book blogs – anywhere the target audience can see and share it. Provide an URL or link to the book’s purchase point.
Do you have more tips for book trailers?