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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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( 74 comments — Leave a comment )
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May. 5th, 2010 04:56 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!
May. 5th, 2010 05:07 pm (UTC)
Thanks, Maurissa. Karen Syed at Echelon sent me the cover art the other day. I love that pic :)
May. 5th, 2010 04:57 pm (UTC)
That is one awesome post on book trailers and ONE AWESOME BOOK TRAILER!

Great music you wrote, btw!
May. 5th, 2010 05:09 pm (UTC)
Thanks, Kelly :)

I'm still experimenting at the moment, but it came out well.
(Deleted comment)
May. 5th, 2010 05:10 pm (UTC)
Thanks, Adrienne :) Did you make one for Brine?
(Deleted comment)
(no subject) - jongibbs - May. 5th, 2010 05:18 pm (UTC) - Expand
May. 5th, 2010 05:07 pm (UTC)
That was great :) Loved the cover art.
May. 5th, 2010 05:11 pm (UTC)
That's a great looking cat :)
May. 5th, 2010 05:12 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.
May. 5th, 2010 05:20 pm (UTC)
Which Windows version do you have, Meredith?
(no subject) - meredith_wood - May. 5th, 2010 05:56 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jongibbs - May. 5th, 2010 06:16 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - meredith_wood - May. 5th, 2010 06:36 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jongibbs - May. 5th, 2010 06:53 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - meredith_wood - May. 5th, 2010 06:58 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jongibbs - May. 5th, 2010 07:00 pm (UTC) - Expand
May. 5th, 2010 05:16 pm (UTC)
Nice job, Jon -- on the trailer, the music, and on the blog post!
May. 5th, 2010 05:20 pm (UTC)
Thanks, John :)
May. 5th, 2010 05:20 pm (UTC)
All very good comments. And a great trailer too. I like the style you went with.

May. 5th, 2010 05:23 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)
May. 5th, 2010 06:16 pm (UTC)
Hehe, I was channeling my inner Kurt Russell :)
May. 5th, 2010 05:47 pm (UTC)
You don’t have to re-invent the wheel

But I wanna reinvent the wheel.

Nice coming-attraction.
May. 5th, 2010 06:12 pm (UTC)
Ha! Already beat me to it.
(no subject) - jongibbs - May. 5th, 2010 06:18 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jongibbs - May. 5th, 2010 06:17 pm (UTC) - Expand
May. 5th, 2010 06:11 pm (UTC)
But ... but ... I wanted to re-ivent the wheeeeeel!
May. 5th, 2010 06:18 pm (UTC)
Perhaps something in Steampunk? ;)
May. 5th, 2010 06:39 pm (UTC)
Well. This book trailer worked. I'm certainly interested in the book now where I wasn't before. :)
May. 5th, 2010 06:51 pm (UTC)
Thanks, Jennifer. I still remember that fantastic trailer you had for Grant's Pass last year.
May. 5th, 2010 07:07 pm (UTC)
May. 5th, 2010 07:10 pm (UTC)
Lol :)
(no subject) - snapes_angel - May. 5th, 2010 07:32 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jongibbs - May. 5th, 2010 07:54 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - snapes_angel - May. 6th, 2010 12:44 am (UTC) - Expand
May. 5th, 2010 07:12 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.
May. 5th, 2010 07:55 pm (UTC)
Excellent :)
May. 5th, 2010 07:14 pm (UTC)
Poor bad guys! That cat sounds EVIL!

Congrats on getting this done!
May. 5th, 2010 07:56 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 :)
May. 5th, 2010 07:22 pm (UTC)

Good job. It looks great :)
May. 5th, 2010 07:56 pm (UTC)
Thanks, Aaron :)
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( 74 comments — Leave a comment )

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