After your book is done, published, and out there, your job as a writer tends to be less about writing for a while and more about marketing, even if you’re with a traditional publisher. Spending your time marketing isn’t probably what you imagined when you dreamed about becoming a writer.
One aspect of marketing that we often overlook is creating a book trailer. Right now, the world is going through a transition from standard marketing to digital marketing, and video is all the rage in digital marketing. So how can an author take advantage of video in their marketing campaign? By creating a trailer.
I know, you’re a writer; you usually don’t think about cinematography as a strategy for marketing your novel, but book trailers have quickly become one of the most successful means of delivering your content to a whole new audience. It can take less than a minute to hook a new reader using your knowledge of their emotional, visual, and auditory senses.
So how do you start making a book trailer?
First off, baby steps. You’re going to want to find photos: first of yourself (the author), next the cover of your book, then pictures of the interior art if you have any, and perhaps pictures from fans. Or maybe you’re actually quite the artist and want to draw a story board (definitely a great option). The shots you take of these images don’t have to be high resolution. Aim for 640 pixels wide by 480 pixels high.
Step 2: Make a YouTube account and channel. Believe it or not, as a writer in this modern age, you’re going to need to make a YouTube account. It can specifically be for your book trailers, but it’s also great to show your readers clips of when you’re mentioned in the local news, if you give a presentation that gets filmed, or if you’re given an award. Or maybe just a video of you talking about your upcoming book. Readers like to connect with their favorite authors, and YouTube is a great platform to do this.
Step 3: Figure out where you want to build your book trailer. You can easily download Photo Story, iMovie, or Movie Maker. Another option is Microsoft PowerPoint, where you can upload photos, add in music and other sound effects, and design your own slide animations.
You could also hire actors (or maybe just borrow family members or friends) and film a scene or a smattering of 5 second scenes that you pull out of your book. It’s easy to do: just get your camera and borrow that red-headed cousin who looks like your main character, then go deep into the woods (or wherever you imagine your setting), and get to work filming. The actors don’t even have to speak. Instead you can have them pantomiming or picking something up or running from something. Don’t know what scenes to film? Start with that excerpt that goes on Amazon or on the back of the book. How can you show that excerpt with images and film?
The following steps are easy: edit your movie and add in music to bring the picture together and make it more cohesive. Keep in mind that most music is copyrighted, and you can pay hefty fees for infringing on copyright. You can find royalty-free music at incompetech or freeplaymusic. (Things often change, so make sure you check that these places are still free and will allow you to use their music at the time you’re creating your trailer.)
Feel free to insert words throughout the film, including the author’s name, the book’s name, some of the characters’ names, and very simple descriptions of what happens in your story.
General Rules for a Book Trailer
- Make it brief. A rule of thumb is to keep your trailer running at less than three minutes (one minute is better). Your goal is to hook a viewer and then respect their time. Right now think about a movie trailer you saw recently that went on too long and probably showed the entire movie. Do not show your entire book.
- Include your message. If your book has an underlying message or point, make sure this motif stands out in your trailer and reflects your brand as a writer.
- Maintain the flow of your trailer. Images, audio, and text should not feel separate from each other, but should instead move naturally and add to the suspense and curiosity a viewer will have while watching your trailer.
- Make a connection. Emotional connections with the viewer are essential to turning a viewer of your trailer into a reader of your content. Achieving a laugh or a tear or a tremor of fear is a great way to show them that what you’ve written has a powerful message for them.
- Name drop. Any writer with connections or endorsements should flaunt their popular friends.
- Finish strong. If you know there’s a part in your trailer where people are going to cry, that’s a good sign of where to end the trailer. Ending on a high emotional note will guarantee more success than if you continue the clip and putter out near the end.
- Include a link. Once the viewer is done watching your trailer, they’re going to want to know how to get their hands on your book. Make sure the method is clear and concise. Rule of thumb: one click. Including a link that will get them to buying your book in one click is how you’ll sell it.
These are some general rules to follow while hooking more readers and letting them enjoy your genius. When in doubt, always know that you can turn to fellow writers and even fans for advice. Writers and fans will tell you what works for them and what has worked on them. Your peers and your audience are your best fans, and they want to see you succeed.
We hope this post helps you make your own book trailer. Already made one? We’d love to hear what you did in the comments below!