Authors and writers of all stripes and genres deal with words. And yet we also know just how powerful a simple image can be in catching someone’s attention. Because sure, many people love to read. But we also love to watch videos, and we don’t need to look further than our obsession with streaming TV, TikTok, and YouTube to see just how powerful video can be.
And if you’re thinking about promoting your new book, it might just be time to hop on the video bandwagon and see what happens. Because if it’s done well, a fantastic book trailer could be a game changer.
According to Julia Drake in “The Ultimate Guide to Book Trailers: How to Produce a Killer Book Promo Video,” video might be one of the greatest promotional tools authors never use.
“Video racks up over 22 billion daily views,” writes Drake. “It increases the organic reach of social media content by over 100%, compared to photos or text.”
Not only that, she adds, but videos rank higher in Google and amount to an “instant emotional connection with your audience.” Still not convinced that video might be a powerful way to advertise or promote your book? Consider this: “Video generates the most online traffic and engagement, 78% of people watch online video each week, studies show people recall 6 times more info from video than text, and our brains process imagery 60,000 times faster than text.”
A polished, compelling book trailer can increase your branding and promotion, and it has the potential of reaching beyond the scope of your regular readers and capturing the attention of influencers and media. And sure, there’s always the possibility that it might pique the interest of someone in publishing and/or film. Not too shabby.
This is not to say that a book trailer will guarantee you become a bestselling author, make heaps of money, go viral, and/or be discovered by Hollywood. But when done properly, a video about your book has the potential to drastically increase your promotional reach and potentially target readers you might not ever have been able to find.
The trick is that the video needs to look good. So what makes a good book trailer?
First, find out what other people are doing right. What book trailers have been successful? Were they complex or high budget, or simple yet effective? What did they have in common? Let yourself get inspired by seeing what is out there that works…and what doesn’t. Because there are a lot (and we mean a lot) of poorly made book trailers released on an unsuspecting public.
There are a few key ingredients to a successful book trailer:
1) It should be well written
This one should be easy, given that authors write for a living, but it’s harder than it looks. Write out what might be a captivating description of your book cover, and go from there. Remember that when it comes to video, less is more.
2) It should capture and reflect both the tone and genre of your book
What are other books in your genre doing? Try to ensure that the tone of your book trailer—whether it’s the music, the language, the visuals, and even the colors—matches your book. And when in doubt, draw inspiration from your cover.
3) It should have good-quality image and sound
Not only should you ensure you have good lighting, but you’ll want to ensure you use the best possible software and video to capture visuals and sound. Don’t have professional equipment? Don’t panic. If you have the budget, you can either outsource your book trailer or feature Creative Commons or fair-use images that don’t violate copyright. Have a particularly scintillating book passage you want to feature? Think about hiring a professional who does voice work and who can create a quality recording on their own equipment.
4) “Show, don’t tell!”
The rule of writing is also true for making videos, so don’t forget it.
5) It should be short
It’s better to be short and visually arresting than long winded and potentially dull. Plus, shorter videos can be featured on social media and in ads, so...bonus!
6) It must include your book’s cover and title
While your book trailer should be entertaining, it should also be informative. That means that your final visual should feature the book cover and title.
If you have the budget, it might be worth exploring outsourcing your book trailer to an experienced professional. But it can get expensive. Sometimes prohibitively so. But keep in mind that while there are plenty of folks offering these services on sites like Fiverr and Upwork, you’ll need to explore your options carefully.
“Make sure the company who you are working with doesn’t use templates to create their book trailers,” suggests “The Ultimate Guide to Creating an Eye Catching Book Trailer.” “Templates may look professional, but it could risk your book trailer coming off as generic and not personalized to your custom audience.” The site also encourages authors to look carefully at the samples and determine whether the book trailer samples you’re seeing are the level of quality you want. “For example, do the actors accurately portray the characters and novel? Is the video quality crisp and clear? Are they using original images and videos? Or do they utilize a lot of stock photos in their films (a HUGE red flag).”
More importantly, check for references and reviews in order to ensure you’re dealing with professionals who are going to not just protect your author brand but enhance it.
Remember that first and foremost, a book trailer is for promotion. In order to be effective from a marketing standpoint, it should be engaging, entertaining, and enticing all on its own. That doesn’t mean it needs to be fancy, feature actors, or be complicated. Keep it simple, keep it creative.
And most of all, try to have some fun with it.
Hannah Guy lives in Toronto and is a professional writer and copywriter who specializes in books, books, and more books. Follow her on Twitter at @hannorg.