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Book Trailer Tips and Tricks

For many of us, trailers are the way we first hear about a new movie. They tease us with clips from the best scenes and pair it with dramatic music, giving us just enough information to draw us in and make us want to see the finished product. But trailers are not just for movies anymore…

Many book publishers, agents and authors are now using video, often called book trailers, to promote and sell new fiction and nonfiction. I think the first book trailer I saw was for “Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children” – and I bought the book.

Book trailers or promo videos are usually produced for a book that has been or is in the process of being published. However, sometimes authors use them as part of their marketing packet when seeking an agent or publisher, or when they self publish. Either way, there are several points to keep in mind.

Length. A book trailer should give the viewer enough information to hook them and lead them to buy the book, but not so much that they feel like they know the whole story. Most good book trailers are between 30 seconds and 3 minutes. Any shorter than that and it’s hard to effectively get your point across. Longer videos run the risk of giving away too much of the plot or just plain boring the viewer.

Production value. You’ve spent a lot of time polishing your prose and you want your book trailer to convey the style and quality of your book. Don’t diminish it with an unprofessional looking book trailer. While some authors are able to take the time to learn the right software programs, come up with great visuals, and secure rights to the perfect music, others fall terribly short and end up with a video that looks less than stellar. A professional video producer or editor can give you the look you want and help you come up with an approach that will work with your budget. Some videos are fairly simple (yet effective) and can be done for as little as $300, while others incorporate more complex production techniques and can cost several thousand. A video professional is also adept at securing the rights to the various production elements and integrating visuals, music and effects to move your story along. They can also typically complete your video in a much shorter time span than if you do it yourself.

Showing characters. Some book trailers use live action to depict key plot points and characters. If you have a healthy budget, this can certainly be one way to go. However, you need to be mindful that most readers tend to prefer letting their imaginations put the faces on your characters. If at all possible, don’t take that away from them. If carefully shot, you can use live action without showing too many specifics of a character’s appearance. Also, if you’re going to use live action, please, please, please, make sure you have GOOD actors. Not average, not mediocre, but GOOD if not GREAT actors. If you can’t get at least good actors, find another approach for your book trailer.

Call to action. It’s amazing to me that someone would go through the trouble (and expense) of creating a book trailer and not end it with a call to action. What do you want the viewer to do? If the book is published, tell them where they can buy it. Would you like them to visit your author’s page/site? Give them the URL. Looking for an agent or publisher? List your contact info. You get the idea.

Get it out there. Once your book trailer is done, put it in as many places as possible. Post it on your website, YouTube, Vimeo and other video sharing sites. (Don’t forget to optimize with tags and keywords.) Share it on FaceBook, Twitter, LinkedIn and all your other social media sites. Use it as a podcast. Embed the video in your blog, and reference it (when appropriate) in your responses to other blogs. Link it to groups with a common interest or goal. Provide the link in all your other marketing information as well.

A book trailer is a great way to generate interest in your new book.

Susan Reetz, of Clear Focus Media, LLC, is a writer/director/producer for film, video, web and print. Her scriptwriting and producing work has earned numerous local, national, and international awards. She also writes feature articles, brochure copy, news releases, web copy, and other promotional materials. She can be reached at 715-212-6239 or Susan@ClearFocus.Media.

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