Want to know more about book trailers? In this guestpost by Rona Simmons, author of the new novel, Postcards from Wonderland, you’ll learn valuable tips on how to create a book trailer for YouTube and your website so you can generate buzz for your book. Read on!
With my new novel, Postcards from Wonderland, just released, I vowed to try unchartered promotional waters—experimenting with new or at least new to me, channels. One of these was a book trailer. And now, I’m happy to share my experience with those who might be considering the same. Below are the “who, what, where, when, and how,” plus a handful of other suggestions. So, don your beret and take a seat in the director’s chair.
What is a trailer?
Unless you’re an author you’ve likely never watched one. An unnerving thought. Is the trailer trap just authors selling to other authors? Perhaps.
For those who don’t know, a book trailer is a video about a book. It’s similar to a movie trailer, but not something you view after seeing the movie or reading the book. It’s designed to attract interest and promote a book.
Trailers have been around for a while and are improving in sophistication and imagination each year.
Example: Follow this link for an innovative approach. After playing the video, go ahead, admit it, you’re interested and you’ve never heard of the author. Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage by Haruki Murakami
Trailers can be animated or live action videos, taped interviews or author readings, scrolling text or slide shows, or combinations of the above.
Why create a trailer?
Because it’s fun. It had better be as the verdict is out on whether trailers sell books. But they add buzz to your campaign and if done well might drive interest in your title.
With a decent knowledge of computers and an above average sense of design, creating a trailer can be easy. With the right software, it takes only minutes. Of course, you can write a book in a month with NANOWRIMO. Or maybe not.
While a professionally made trailer might cost thousands, you might hire a student versed in videos for next to nothing, or as I did, do it yourself. Here are suggestions if you go the DIY route.
1) Watch a lot of trailers. Let me repeat, watch a lot of trailers. You’ll be inspired and better able to design your own trailer.
2) Avoid just putting your back cover copy to music. Create a storyboard. Approach your story from a different angle altogether, but in keeping with the book.
Example: Chuck Wendig, a hilarious and irreverent author I’ve followed online, created a wickedly interesting teaser for Blackbirds, Mockingbird using only text and a voice-over.
3) Find the right software. Though video creation software can be pricy, several programs are free, and one or two might have come preloaded on your computer.
4) Experiment with “free” programs before deciding to ratchet up to programs with more capabilities. As in photography—in the right hands, an old Brownie can take as good a shot as an expensive, state-of-the-art camera.
Example: You can stick to testimonials. See the simple video for Stieg Larsson’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
5) Read tips on creating trailers.
- Keep it short. Under two minutes. Think TV ads, most of which run for 30 seconds.
- Keep it simple. Don’t include subplots or plot twists
- Limit panning an zooming and flipping and fading and spinning
- Make the first few seconds count. Just like the agonizing over the opening sentences of your book.
- Present the title and your name early. Today’s viewers have short attention spans
- Consider pacing. Vary the time each scene is presented and the speed of transition between scenes
- Choose graphics and font consistent with your book’s genre and “look and feel”
- Use your own photos and videos or those in the public domain and royalty free
- End with your cover, a call-to-action, or a link to your website or where to buy the book
6) Get a second (and third) opinion
It’s easy to be mesmerized by that shiny new object. My sister, an artist and award winning video creator, described my first draft as amateurish and cheesy. Thank God for a writer’s thick skin!
What to do with your trailer?
Now you’re ready to launch your video. And, I fear, much like launching your book, there’s a lot involved. Here are a few suggestions as to where to put your video.
- On your website, but don’t expect to see a lot of clicks
- On YouTube (via your own, free channel) and Vimeo
- On your social media: LinkedIn, Google+, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc. etc
- On your PC or tablet or phone. Play it on a loop at book fairs, on a crowded train or bus—okay, just checking to see if you’re still with me!
- Include a link in your author newsletter
- Email it to everyone on your email list
- Blog about it
- Add a link to your email signature
- Post it on Amazon and Goodreads author pages
- Submit it to literary sites
- Write an article about it. (Check!)
So you think you’re done?
Well, almost. There’s one more thing. What’s that? Watch my trailer, of course! And tell me what you think.
Rona Simmons is the author of two novels published by Deeds Publishing, The Quiet Room and Postcards from Wonderland. Rona recently retired from thirty years in the world of corporate finance to pursue the call of her long suppressed creative side, including creative writing and photography. Though having written countless memos, letters, and reports and published business articles throughout her career, she is enjoying the freedom and creative aspects of fiction. She lives with her husband outside Atlanta, Georgia, on eight wooded southern acres that provide inspiration for both her writing and photography.