book trailer

Book Trailer: Do You Need One for a Successful Book?

Ann O'Brien

Ann O'Brien

February 27, 2023

Sitting in the movies and watching trailers of upcoming features is an exciting part of going to the theater for many people. Experiencing the thrill of meeting a new character or world in a movie trailer generates interest in a new movie and encourages audiences to learn more about the movie, and an engaging book trailer can produce the same effect on potential readers.

While some avid readers may regularly peruse book reviews to find their next book to read, a book trailer is becoming an increasingly popular way for authors to let potential readers know about their upcoming books.

What Is a Book Trailer?

A literary book trailer is a short video that encapsulates enough information about a book, its characters, and its storyline to entice potential readers to check it out. It may be professionally made or even put together by the authors themselves and can be created as a live-action video, as an animated feature, or even with a compilation of photos paired with a voice-over or thematic music.

But regardless of how the book trailer is put together, the purpose is to provide a compelling glimpse into the book to generate interest in potential readers.

Why Should I Make a Book Trailer?

You just put your time and energy into creating a fantastic book, including planning, writing, revising, editing, formatting, and even creating the perfect cover for your book. But developing a successful marketing plan to get the book in front of your target audience and into the hands of readers means considering making a book trailer.

Video Is Here to Stay

While the written word will never go away (whew!), video consumption is now a part of daily life for most people. In fact, according to a 2022 video marketing survey by Wyzowl, not only do more people spend time watching videos than they do reading texts, but they also found that the average person spends around 19 hours a week watching videos, a number that increased by one hour over Wyzowl’s 2021 survey.

Interestingly, 73% of respondents noted that they would rather watch a short video about a product than read a review of it, furthering the reach of how a book trailer might appeal to some potential readers. And a whopping 88% of those surveyed responded that they were convinced to buy a product simply by viewing a video alone. With the clear impact video can have on consumers, authors that avoid this powerful medium miss out on reaching a growing market of potential readers.

 Book Trailers Are Brief

A book trailer only needs to be between 30-90 seconds, similar to the length of many commercials as well as the short video clips that consumers are used to on social media platforms.

They Give an Opportunity to Connect with Audience

A book trailer video can incorporate captivating original or open-source music and unique visual imagery to create an emotional connection with viewers in a way that a written review or book summary cannot.

Videos Hook Them In

With the opportunity to create a compelling opening that draws potential readers into your book’s universe, authors can demonstrate the book’s tension and excitement without giving away too much of the story or concept.

Making Your Book Trailer

Making the leap from writing a blurb to sell your book online to shooting a video about it can be challenging for a lot of writers. But by planning out your steps carefully, it’s possible to end up with a beautiful book trailer that will help you promote your book to your target market and may even help you snag a few unexpected readers, too.

1 Decide on Concept. The first step is ideation. Determining the concept you want to run with can be as simple as determining to use a few well-chosen photographs that will project the theme or tone of your book in a photo collage video or as complicated as writing out a script for a live-action trailer to reenact a portion of your book. In order to help you consider what type of book trailer will work the best for you, your book, and your expertise, use a few guiding questions to make your decision:

  • Is the protagonist or antagonist more important to reveal to the reader?
  • What is the purpose or intent of the main character?
  • How does the conflict affect the main character?
  • What should be the tone of the book trailer?
  • Who is the target reader and how can you best reach them with a video?
  • What is the format of the video? (photo collage, animation or live-action)

2 Write the Script. Once the format and focus of the trailer are decided, it’s time to write the script. This should include all details of the brief story: the setting, the characters or voices, the dialogue and narration as well as including a call to action (CTA) to seek out the book and where to buy it.

3 Storyboard the Action. Even if it is rudimentary, draw out a storyboard to visually represent each step of the story. This will show the flow of the script so you can make adjustments and visualize the overall look and feel of the book trailer. If you are creating a live-action trailer, a storyboard can be used with the actors to block out the scenes. Storyboards are also very helpful to give to a professional animator you have engaged for the project so they can more fully understand your vision.

4 Prepare Materials. Once the script has been fleshed out in a storyboard, prepare all of your materials so that the actual creation timeframe of the trailer goes more smoothly.

  • Editing – Secure the services of a professional editor or familiarize yourself with the editing program you are going to be using
  • Equipment – Make sure that you obtain the right camera or video equipment for the shoot
  • Location – Check to see if you need any permits for a video shoot location so your production won’t be halted on the day of, potentially costing you money and time to finish the project
  • Music – If you are using music in your book trailer, double-check that it is open-source and does not require any special approval to be used or consider paying a professional musician to write a tune just for your book trailer
  • Production Crew – Depending on the type of project you are undertaking, you may need to hire help or ask trusted friends to assist you on the production day
  • Script – Make copies of the script for everyone involved to use
  • Voice-over Professional – Listen to work samples of professional voice actors to select the one that best matches your vision for the project

5 Produce the Trailer. When it’s production time, making an animated video is much easier when you enlist the aid of a capable animation online tool. Some of our favorites are:

Animoto’s cloud-based format comes with storyboards, stock images to use, and templates to follow

Biteable offers up to five free video projects per month for users who need help with every aspect of animation creation

Canva provides a timeline drag-and-drop feature to help you create your videos as well as a wealth of stock images and videos to use gives video creators every tool they need including 1000’s of templates and the capability to live stream, record videos, edit, host your video, and even create a thumbnail

For a live-action video, production includes using actors, a video camera, a good microphone and lights and a tripod.

And a photo collage trailer will require a quality camera and a location with the content you need on production day.

6 Editing. Once production day is finished, a professional editor or an editing program will help you narrow down the scenes into a video that completes your initial vision.

Outsourcing the Production

If you want help with all or part of your trailer production, there are excellent options to help you outsource the video.

Distribution: Getting Views

Once your book trailer is completed, get it in front of as many potential readers as possible with a focus on your target reader. Key distribution channels are your author’s website, virtual or in-person book events, literary sites like Booklist or Publisher’s Weekly, social media sites (pin to your profile or post to Instagram reels or Tik Tok), newsletter email lists, and YouTube.

Prepare for Book Sales

Making a book trailer is a great way to prepare to launch your book, so many authors make sure their trailer is ready to go before their first books arrive from the printer. Partnering with a trusted printer like Publishing Xpress will ensure that you will love the printed copies of your book. And with Publishing Xpress’s on-demand printing, when the anticipation of your book launch goes better than expected, it’s easy to order more books for the new fans you are destined to gain from your efforts in creating and marketing your book with a fantastic book trailer.

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