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?