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In a World… of Book Trailers

Book Trailers!  We’ve all seen them since they’ve taken over YouTube and author blogs lately.  They’ve become a must have for self-published authors when it comes to marketing.  Just search Google for Book Trailers and you’ll find loads of them and loads of companies and vid-techies who are willing to help make one for you. From programs allowing you to do it yourself for minimal fees to web designers charging hundreds of dollars for the use of images and music, your possibilities are endless.

But do they work?  Do they capture the attention of your intended audience?  Do they capture a sale from a would-be reader?  To find out, we asked LLBR readers and authors to send us their book trailers.  Let’s take a look at a few and the approach each video takes to its book’s subject matter.

First is the trailer for Waiting for Spring by RJ Keller.  Perfectly timed music, minimal images, and a quote from the book itself and from a few reviews are all that make up this video. To me, it’s clean, simple, and definitely has an impact.  It’s nice to see that it tells me in the end where I can buy the book. The video has received over 100 hits since being uploaded in January of this year, and according to this post by the author, the Ebook version of her novel has been downloaded over 2000 times in about a year.

Next is a cute trailer for Grandma’s First Computer by Linda Hayes.  This video has also received over 100 hits since going live last November.  This video uses pictures directly from the book and includes text that reads just like a blurb you’d probably find on the back of the book.  For a 34 page book, this one minute video took a lot of effort.  I was also glad to see the web address at the end. Overall, I think it has a nice kid-friendly approach just as it was intended.

Here’s the book trailer for Misfit McCabe, authored by our own reviewer LK Gardner-Griffie.  This vid has also received over 100 hits since going live in January.  Having read this book, I can tell you the video reflects the tone of the story perfectly using both text and various photos to set the mood.  LK used Animoto to create this video, the same program I used for my own.  It’s the perfect program for those on a budget allowing you to upload a series of photos, add text, and choose music for less than $5.00.  While you don’t have much control over the design your pics fall into, you can rescramble them again and again until you have a video that’s just right.

Here’s my own video for my book, Stealing Wishes, also utilizing Animoto.  This video costs me $3.00 to make and has received over 120 hits since going live last May.  My biggest complaint is that I didn’t allow enough time for readers to be able to read the text before the picture changes.  Other than that, I think the video is a nice representation of my book and the image I wanted it to convey.

Todd Fonseca’s book trailer for his book, The Time Cavern, blows all of us out of the water.  He’s received over 15,000 hits since going live last June.  The video is just barely over a minute long and feels like an intense summer movie trailer with Dan Brown’s name written all over it.  Few words.  Few images.  Yet, full of drama and mystery!  Well done!  As I write this, The Time Cavern is in the top 200,00 on Amazon.com in sales rank; I think it’s safe to say Todd’s video helped sell a few copies.

The video for Great Things Are Coming by Ian Randall Wilson is one of the few I’ve actually seen showing real people with speaking parts.  It peeked my interest because it feels more like an infomercial for reading rather than an advertisement for a book, but the dialogue is simple and repetitive so as a viewer, I never felt like I was missing out on anything. But it definitely shows marketing potential as the words on the screen and the multiple personalities converge on the slogan, “Another reason to read…”  I have to admit it’s an interesting approach because after reading the book description on Amazon, it’s almost as if this video has nothing to do with the book.  Since it peeked my interest enough to make me want to check out the book’s Amazon listing, I’d say the book trailer did a pretty good job of selling the book.

The Hidden Realm by Adrian Kyte is another simple video with text and appealing music.  I love the mood the Enigma-like music sets.  This video has received almost 150 hits since going live on YouTube back in September.  It’s clean and simple, but maybe a bit too simple.  I think I would like a few more images besides the landscape and the book cover in order to connect with the book just a bit more, but overall the video isn’t too bad.

And now the last video that almost tops them all is believe it or not – only 4 seconds long.  Talk about flash fiction!  And indeed, that’s exactly what it’s advertising.  The name of the book is Semi-Absurd Stories and comes from a team of writers known as “Nick Name.”  The video definitely grabs your attention.  It had me arching my eyebrows and pausing it three or four times just so I could take it all in.  It’s definitely experimental.  And it’s received almost 600 hits in just over a year.  And although the book is written in Polish, there is an English translated version called Password Incorrect.  There’s a free sample of the stories at Feedbook if you are interested.

So, let’s recap some of the things we’ve learned from these videos and a few other tips which authors might want to keep in mind when creating a video of their own.

  • Use photos to make your video appealing and colorful.  A snapshot of the book cover helps too.
  • Just like your book, tell a story in your book trailer.  It doesn’t have to be a repeat of the back cover blurb, and it doesn’t have to have a definitive beginning, middle, and end; but think of what message you want viewers to take away from the video (besides Buy My Book!).
  • Use music!  A catchy tune or a carefully orchestrated score will help set the mood.
  • Keep the video short (but not too short).  I think three minutes is pushing it.  Most of these videos did a great job of advertising the book or conveying a marketing story in two minutes or less.
  • Use text to move the viewer through the video.
  • Tell readers where to buy your book!  Don’t be afraid to include your own web address.
  • Step outside the box. Be creative and experimental!  Try a new approach to selling your book and to grabbing a reader’s attention.
  • Don’t stop with one video!  Remember Geico has been selling insurance with cavemen and the gecko commercials running simultaneously.
  • If you are going to use actors with speaking parts, write a script.  Rehearse.  And keep it simple! Ah, if only Don LaFontaine were still around to narrarate for us!
  • Don’t stop with YouTube.  Use your video in emailing campaigns, blog posts, and anywhere on the web where your book is for sale and will allow the video to be uploaded.

This post doesn’t have to stop here!  Feel free to add links to your own book trailers in the comments section. Also share your own tips, tricks, and book trailer help sites!

9 Responses to “In a World… of Book Trailers”

  1. RIP Don LaFontaine!

    I’ll post my link to my book trailer as soon as we finish it.

    Reply
  2. I enjoyed taking a peek at other author’s book trailers. I used Window’s Movie Maker for mine, but now I’m interested to check out animoto to see what pops up from that.

    Thanks Shannon!

    Reply
  3. Here is a book trailer I created for my online serial novel, Argentum, located at http://www.violetwar.com.

    So far it’s gotten rave reviews!

    Reply
  4. I used a combination of Windows Movie Maker and Animoto. By running through the slides in Animoto several times, then I was able to take the effects I liked and cut them together for the finished product. Animoto has added some new features since I created my trailer, so I’m anxious to carve out some “play” time to work with it again and see what can be done with the new effects.

    Reply
  5. [...] Saturday, LuLu Book Review posted an article, In a World…of Book Trailers that highlights, as you may have guessed, a few of the many book trailers that are out there and [...]

    Reply
  6. [...] a book trailer and post it on [...]

    Reply
  7. Another good video. From Mark Callaghan:

    Reply
  8. My publisher has plastered my trailers all over the place, but here are some things I did on my own… maybe it would work for others. I set up a YOU TUBE channel http://www.youtube.com/LiNC0LNPARK I favorite all the videos my publisher makes for my books. I also favorited a video review of one of my books that a reviewer posted. (I even favorited a video spoof that a fellow author uses to sell his book ). This way, I have an automatic video showcase of my stuff — without having to necessarily send people to places to social networking profiles and video sites all over the Internet to view them.

    Also — since my books are also on amazon.com, I load their video trailers onto the sales pages. Here’s an example: http://tinyurl/handletime

    On my official website, I have posted links to each video. I think that the REAL kick now is the fact that people are posting video REVIEWS. Actually seeing kudos for your book coming straight out of someone’s mouth is a moral boost and a ringing endorsement for potential customers. I love that! I mean, for example: this review is KILLER: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YXSmhczGqUU

    Sometimes I upload my video trailers to little SD cards and include the SD card with my book when I send it out for review. SD cards are cheap now… and people like to get free stuff… even reviewers, y’know?

    Lastly; be careful. In my case, YouTube killed the audio for one of my book trailers; citing copyright infringement. Luckily, there was no narrative track needed; but it’s a little embarrassing to have that citation posted by your video, IMHO.

    I hope this helps people to form their own video posting plans, a little.

    Reply
  9. Correction:

    http://tinyurl.com/handletime …LP

    Reply

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