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I’ve been thinking a lot about book trailers lately, and since I know some of my writer friends have been too, I thought I’d share the notes I made for myself.
 
1. Remember, you’re not trying to sell the book (though that would be great). Your goal is to convert someone who might never have heard of your work (or you) into someone who not only knows you’ve a book coming out, but wants to find out more.
 
2. You don’t have to re-invent the wheel. You don’t have to come up with a brilliant formula for producing a book trailer. There are thousands of ready-made examples for you to learn from. Watch as many as you can. If you see a technique which you think would work for you, use it. If you see something which put you off, avoid doing that on your own trailer.
 
3. Hook your viewers in the first ten seconds. I think you need a great opening line, image and/or music, or you risk losing the viewer. If you open with the book title (unless it’s a doozy) and the author’s name, you risk losing the viewer.

4. Make it memorable. 
The primary goal is to be remembered. It doesn’t matter which way you go, so long as viewers come away from the trailer knowing the title of your book, wanting to learn more, and above all, haven’t forgotten about you or your novel within five minutes of watching it. 

 
5. Make it worth seeing again. There’s no magic formula for doing this, but if you can produce a book trailer that people want to watch a second time, there’s a much better chance that they’ll check out your book. 
 
6. Make it worth sharing. If people like something, they’ll tell others. A great book trailer is no exception. 

7. Make it clear from the file title that what people are about to see is a book trailer.

This may sound obvious, but it will help folks discover the trailer with a generic search online. I suggest a file title like “MYBOOKTITLE by My Name – book trailer”.
 
8. Make it short – I’d say about 60 seconds maximum. Movie companies spend a fortune on trailers for two hour films, but even with all their special effects and CGI wizardry, they keep their promos short. 
 
9. Keep it moving. You don’t have to use video footage to create movement. Words can scroll or fade in and out. Still photos can ‘drift’ across the screen, zoom in or pan out.
 
10. Think twice before using actors. I’m not saying using actors to portray characters from  your book is a bad idea. In fact, from a promotional point of view, I think it could be most effective, but if you decide to use live action footage, it had better be convincing – see ‘Make it look professional’ below.
 
11. Use music that grabs the listener by the ears and won’t let go. Bland background music suggests bland reading, but whatever you choose be aware of music copyright – see below.
 
12. Be aware of music copyright. If you want music, you can produce your own, or buy the right to use it on your trailer. If you think your favorite band won’t care if you use one of their songs as the soundtrack for your trailer you may well be right, but I guarantee the lawyers at their publishing company will care, especially if your book makes money. Also, it’s not just the music, it’s the performance too. Vivaldi’s been dead for so long, his music is copyright free, but the recording someone else made of his music is not. 
 
13. Last, but not least, make it look professional. It’s possible to produce a book trailer at little or no expense, which is great. Just make sure no one can tell from the finished result. I used Windows Live Movie Maker (which comes with Windows 7) to produce the teaser trailer for my forthcoming MG urban fantasy, Fur-Face.  
I wrote my own music, but there are plenty of sites where you can buy the rights to music and photos (see my earlier post on book trailers for more details). 
 

"What’s that? A teaser trailer for Fur-Face" you say?  Well, since you mention it:


How about you?  Got any tips to share about making a book trailer?



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Comments

( 74 comments — Leave a comment )
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mguibord
May. 5th, 2010 12:56 pm (UTC)
Oh I love this, especially love the cat's eyes in the dark-very cool! I think the music was eerie and great too!
jongibbs
May. 5th, 2010 01:07 pm (UTC)
Thanks, Maurissa. Karen Syed at Echelon sent me the cover art the other day. I love that pic :)
kellyrfineman
May. 5th, 2010 12:57 pm (UTC)
That is one awesome post on book trailers and ONE AWESOME BOOK TRAILER!

Great music you wrote, btw!
jongibbs
May. 5th, 2010 01:09 pm (UTC)
Thanks, Kelly :)

I'm still experimenting at the moment, but it came out well.
(Deleted comment)
jongibbs
May. 5th, 2010 01:10 pm (UTC)
Thanks, Adrienne :) Did you make one for Brine?
(Deleted comment)
(no subject) - jongibbs - May. 5th, 2010 01:18 pm (UTC) - Expand
maryjdal
May. 5th, 2010 01:07 pm (UTC)
That was great :) Loved the cover art.
jongibbs
May. 5th, 2010 01:11 pm (UTC)
That's a great looking cat :)
meredith_wood
May. 5th, 2010 01:12 pm (UTC)
I really need to make a book trailer but have no idea how. I see this and I'm like...wow! Which, of course, it is wow! :-) Thank you so much for posting this.
jongibbs
May. 5th, 2010 01:20 pm (UTC)
Which Windows version do you have, Meredith?
(no subject) - meredith_wood - May. 5th, 2010 01:56 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jongibbs - May. 5th, 2010 02:16 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - meredith_wood - May. 5th, 2010 02:36 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jongibbs - May. 5th, 2010 02:53 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - meredith_wood - May. 5th, 2010 02:58 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jongibbs - May. 5th, 2010 03:00 pm (UTC) - Expand
plattcave
May. 5th, 2010 01:16 pm (UTC)
Nice job, Jon -- on the trailer, the music, and on the blog post!
jongibbs
May. 5th, 2010 01:20 pm (UTC)
Thanks, John :)
dqg_neal
May. 5th, 2010 01:20 pm (UTC)
All very good comments. And a great trailer too. I like the style you went with.


jongibbs
May. 5th, 2010 01:23 pm (UTC)
Thanks, Neal :) I've given a copy of the music to Neil M. for use in the GSHW podcast-blurbs (if he thinks it'll fit).
(Deleted comment)
jongibbs
May. 5th, 2010 02:16 pm (UTC)
Hehe, I was channeling my inner Kurt Russell :)
serge_lj
May. 5th, 2010 01:47 pm (UTC)
You don’t have to re-invent the wheel

But I wanna reinvent the wheel.
Waugh!

Nice coming-attraction.
ex_camillea
May. 5th, 2010 02:12 pm (UTC)
Ha! Already beat me to it.
(no subject) - jongibbs - May. 5th, 2010 02:18 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jongibbs - May. 5th, 2010 02:17 pm (UTC) - Expand
ex_camillea
May. 5th, 2010 02:11 pm (UTC)
But ... but ... I wanted to re-ivent the wheeeeeel!
jongibbs
May. 5th, 2010 02:18 pm (UTC)
Perhaps something in Steampunk? ;)
jennifer_brozek
May. 5th, 2010 02:39 pm (UTC)
Well. This book trailer worked. I'm certainly interested in the book now where I wasn't before. :)
jongibbs
May. 5th, 2010 02:51 pm (UTC)
Thanks, Jennifer. I still remember that fantastic trailer you had for Grant's Pass last year.
snapes_angel
May. 5th, 2010 03:07 pm (UTC)
Meow!
jongibbs
May. 5th, 2010 03:10 pm (UTC)
Lol :)
(no subject) - snapes_angel - May. 5th, 2010 03:32 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jongibbs - May. 5th, 2010 03:54 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - snapes_angel - May. 5th, 2010 08:44 pm (UTC) - Expand
asakiyume
May. 5th, 2010 03:12 pm (UTC)
I LOVE your Fur Face mini trailer! Furthermore, it did everything a trailer should do--I have heard you mention the story before, but now I'd really like to read it.
jongibbs
May. 5th, 2010 03:55 pm (UTC)
Excellent :)
bondo_ba
May. 5th, 2010 03:14 pm (UTC)
Poor bad guys! That cat sounds EVIL!

Congrats on getting this done!
jongibbs
May. 5th, 2010 03:56 pm (UTC)
I wouldn't say he's evil, but you wouldn't want to leave your electric toothbrush lying about the place when he was around :)
a_r_williams
May. 5th, 2010 03:22 pm (UTC)
Woohooo!

Good job. It looks great :)
jongibbs
May. 5th, 2010 03:56 pm (UTC)
Thanks, Aaron :)
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( 74 comments — Leave a comment )

Things What I Wrote and Other Stuff

No longer in print but there are still some copies floating around out there


No longer in print but there are still some copies floating around out there















 











THE MEAGER PUDDLE OF LIMELIGHT AWARDS


Books by my writer friends - compressed

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