Our Favorite Book Trailers

Here are some truly creative book trailers to give you inspiration.

Theory of Remainders by Scott Dominic Carpenter

Produced by Red 14 Films, this highly cinematic trailer builds suspense with dramatic close-ups of a man waiting in a room alternating with black screens showing review quotes.  

Embrace Series by Jessica Shirvington

These videos do a great job at building the hype up for Shirvington’s novels, offering a “teaser trailer” in anticipation of the book cover reveal as well as a behind the scenes video. The dramatic music and animation are great fits for the YA audience of the series.

Girl in the Kitchen by Stephanie Izard

From Chronicle Books, this playful video pokes fun at the author herself and the difficulty of making a book trailer, adding a very genuine feel to the trailer while giving the viewers a taste of Izard's personality.

Blameless by Gail Carriger

From Orbit Books, another great YA trailer that gives fans a look behind the scenes at the cover design process.

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Cinematic Marketing

All About Book Trailers

In 2010 and 2011, various members of the publishing industry labeled book trailers the next big thing. In some ways, they were right; book trailers now have a more established place on an author’s marketing checklist, while many publishers have their own book trailer channels on YouTube. But the question remains—do book trailers increase book sales enough to justify their often-hefty price tag?

In many cases, the answer is a simple no. The trailer fails to hook the few readers who watch it for a variety of reasons: it seems like every other trailer; it fails to correspond with the book in any way; the viewer loses interest, etc. Yet many authors and publishers continue to spend big money on the production of book trailers, recognizing the opportunity to reach potential readers through the powerful medium of video—a medium that is continuously growing. In just a month, six billion hours of video are watched on YouTube, up 50 percent from last year. And even those who admit that the returns of book trailers are frequently much lower than the investment will advocate the importance of book trailers; AuthorDiscovery emphasizes the value of book trailers in boosting “discoverability” and visibility online… if done correctly. Following is a guide to help you decide if a book trailer is the right option for you.

What is a book trailer?

A book trailer is a preview for your book that ideally serves as a marketing tool by sparking the interest of the viewer. The great thing about book trailers is the unlimited potential for creativity they provide. As a newer marketing technique, there is not really any established etiquette or formula for making a book trailer. Consequently, a quick “book trailer” search in YouTube can result in amazing stop-motion videos, awful Power Point productions, and everything in between. Anything pertaining to the book that can be done in less than three minutes is fair game. Many book trailers consist of author interviews, information about the book, quotes from the book set to related graphics, or important scenes acted out.

Who watches book trailers?

This is the big question. Many authors have come to the conclusion that book trailers are a waste of money, as even the trailers for bestsellers on the New York Times list can have relatively low view numbers. However, there is a thriving community of blogs dedicated to showcasing new book trailers, and many indie publishing houses have healthy subscription numbers to their YouTube channels. Book trailers are also a great way to reach librarians or booksellers active in the online literary community.

What do book trailers cost?

Book trailers can be incredibly costly. If you choose to hire a company to produce the video for you, simple 2-D graphics and text trailers can start at $300, with the cost increasing for actors, voiceovers, animation, etc; high quality book trailers can cost up to $15,000.

Fortunately, a little creativity and editing skills can go a long way in book trailer production. Authors and publishers who choose to create their own trailer videos reduce the cost and maintain complete control over the project. Before you decide on this route, make sure you have the necessary tools to create a professional trailer. As The Independent Publisher says, “A book trailer doesn’t have to break the bank, but it should promote your work and excite your readers, not turn them off with amateur acting or voiceovers for your pets.” Check out Julia Cantrell’s guide to making a book trailer here.

How does a trailer go viral?

The most successful videos are those that “go viral,” so ideally a book trailer would achieve this Internet fame and subsequently see a leap in sales. If you want to shoot for a viral book trailer, there is good news: these trailers do not have to be the most expensively produced, they just have to generate in viewers the desire to share the trailer with friends. For more about creating a viral book trailer read Tim Ferriss’ deconstruction of the process here.

What is the best book trailer format?

The smartest book trailers cater to the audience they would have the most success in. YA book trailers often look like fan-made videos that proliferate on YouTube, featuring the book’s characters played by Emma Watson and Robert Pattinson (clips pulled from Twilight and Harry Potter movies), set to popular music. Cookbooks more likely will follow a cooking show format, with upbeat authors whipping up a quick recipe while discussing the themes of the book. Determine who your audience is and watch other trailers in that genre to get a feel for what might capture the attention of your viewers.

If you decide a book trailer is a good marketing option for you, take advantage of the endless blogs and literary sites out there to generate interest. Post your video to video-hosting sites like YouTube, social media sites, blogs, and anywhere else you think your target audience might see it. Remember, even if you don’t see a jump in sales after the release of your book trailer, having an online video presence can draw more traffic to your website and social media pages. For more on book trailer videos, check out these links. 

The Elements of a Successful Book Trailer

How Publishers are Using Book Trailers to Sell Books

The Rise of the Book Trailer

 

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Lauren White recently graduated from the University of Michigan with a degree in History and English. She is serving as assistant editor at Independent Publisher for summer 2013 and hopes to continue her career in publishing in New York City. Please email her at larenee [at] umich.edu with any questions and comments.


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