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Online Book Trailer Basics

What You Need in Your Book Trailer


Film Director

Creating an online video trailer can help get readers for your book

Joshua Ets-Hokin for Photodisc/Getty Images
Online book trailers can be effective tools for book marketing. With more and more video production tools becoming accessible and easy to use, you might think about using an online book trailer to promote your book. Here’s how to get started laying out your book trailer.

Do your research and gather, brainstorm for ideas
Look at book trailers for books similar to yours Check out the competition — what book trailers are out there that look similar to yours? What kind of page views are they getting? You can look at hundreds of sample book trailers on sites like YouTube and Vimeo. Go to individual book publisher's sites for their authors' book trailers. For some suggestions, see the Tips for an Effective Online Book Trailer article.

Gather your assets
Book jacket, author photo, still photos from the book—all of these are assets you’ll be using. Your video team is an asset, as well. Production takes time and money and people with skills. Think about who you know with video production and/or editing skills? Try to get them on board or at least get advice. Do you need to hire someone? Actors? Videographers? What's your budget? Will your publisher help defray costs?

Outline your book trailer goals and ideas
Of course, you want eyeballs on the video, but think about your book's potential and how best you think they will be engaged by your video. Do you want to inform? Entertain? Interview your book's subject?

Produce your video
Video production is beyond the scope of this article, but visit About.com's Desktop Video site for step by step information on how to produce a promotional video.

Be sure to include basic book information in your book trailer
It’s easy to get caught up in the creative processes of writing and producing a dynamic book trailer—so it’s important that you include the basic information that helps ensure that potential book buyers can find your book when they want to.

Don’t forget to include:
• Prominent mentions of the book title
Depending on the length of your trailer, ideally, you should mention book’s title at least three times in the book trailer dialogue or voice over, as well as have it appear in text at least twice during the course of the trailer, most importantly at the beginning and the end. Of course, you should have a catchy title (and you can learn about creating a great book title, here.)

• Calls to action to motivate potential book buyers
“Calls to action” are advertising parlance for bluntly making it known to the consumer exactly what you want them to do. The end of your book trailer should have a call to action. Some examples of typical calls to action are:

“Get more information at www.mygreatbook.com.

“Buy a copy of My Great Book at Barnes & Noble, Amazon.com, your favorite independent bookseller—or wherever fine cookbooks are sold.”

“Buy My Great Book for your e-reader today from Smashwords.”

• Social media contact information
Book trailers should prominently display the book or author website and any and all social media addresses—Facebook , Twitter, Pinterest, etc. Make sure that you display this information for the length of time it takes for someone to be able to thoroughly read it, slowly. The most natural place for this information to appear is at the end of the book trailer, before the credits. It can even appear with the call to action.

(Read more about using Twitter to promote your book, and more about capitalizing on your social media network for book marketing.)

• Credits for the folks who helped you with the trailer
Online video conventions—like film or television—suggest that you list credits for those people who helped work on your book trailer. Especially if you received any video or online production services for free or at a reduced cost, it’s good book karma—as well as customary—to give credit where credit is due.

Read more:
Tips for producing effective book trailers
Case study: trailer for an illustrated book
Case study: trailer for a romance novel

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