Part 8: Book video trailers

The child in each of us loves pictures, animation, drama, and the tease. Remember those early grammar school days, when the book you wanted to read, or have read to you, was selected primarily for its illustrations? Maybe a lingering affection for storytime has contributed to the current fascination with book trailers.

They began as experiments motivated by curiosity about the application of new technology. HarperCollins started promoting its books with video trailers in 2006. The concept wasn’t new then, and it’s still uncommon enough to attract notice. Amazon now displays video clips to help sell certain books, and trailers shown at the cinema advertise not only films coming soon to a theater near you but books scheduled for future release.

One of the most compelling, effective book trailers was designed to promote Ice by Pauline Couture.

Unbridled Books, a very successful independent publisher of literary fiction founded in 2003, has several promotional videos for its books on YouTube and MySpace> that include segments showing the books’ authors.

Combining multiple online marketing and networking strategies, horror novelist Sarah Langan is currently sponsoring a book trailer contest on MySpace. During the month of October 2007, contestants can upload a 30-second trailer for her book The Missing. Langan will award an Apple iPhone to the contest winner.

Book trailers: In the mood for Halloween

You can view more book trailers like these on producers’ and publishers’ promotional websites, such as and Bookwrap Central.

Make your own trailer

Professionally produced book trailers can cost from several hundred dollars to $50,000 or more. Making your own book video trailer or enlisting the assistance of an amateur videographer isn’t out of the question and may be the most practical option for some authors.

A very simple trailer can be composed of still images in a slideshow format spruced up with animation effects and music or voiceovers. Following are some of the inexpensive or free online services that will allow you to upload your own image files and create a slideshow you can publish on another website or your blog:

If you have access to a video camera and video editing software, you can include an author interview or scripted scenes from the book in your trailer. Current TV has an excellent online video production tutorial—presented in video format—that will help you avoid a novice’s telltale mistakes.

Daniel Meadows of Photobus provides free online video editing tutorials for anyone using iMovie HD or Adobe Premiere software.

The DV Show is dedicated to answering its podcast listeners’ questions about digital video.

You need not own video editing software. Free or inexpensive multimedia editing services are also available on the Web:

Distribute your book trailer widely

Post your book video on your website, the book’s website, your blog, and your social networks. You may be able to persuade the book’s publisher and booksellers to add it to their sites. Include a link to the book trailer in your press releases, and mention your video when you contact other bloggers to arrange blog book tours.

The best places to maximize your trailer’s exposure are video-sharing sites, including:

For more distribution options, see the comparisons of video-sharing services compiled at MasterNewMedia.

Book trailer producers

Money is no object, you say? How nice. Then you can always have a trailer produced and distributed by a professional firm. Some producers can design a very basic trailer for less than $500. Here are a few of the companies in the book trailer business:

Short essays can be videos too

If the idea of producing a video is appealing, but you don’t have a book to promote, look at sites like KQED’s Digital Storytelling Initiative. In England, you can participate in a workshop to learn how to produce a video essay for BBCi’s Telling Lives. Write a personal story purchased by Common Ties, and the producers might also record it, which pays an extra $150.

The appeal of video on the Web will undoubtedly remain strong. As television and radio move online and news is increasingly delivered in multimedia format, the visual media are likely to overshadow text-based communication on the Internet. It’s all about capturing the attention of the audience.

Previously Posted
Part 1: Online social networking for authors
Part 2: Special online social networks for authors
Part 3: Managing your online identities
Part 4: Launching a book’s website
Part 5: Starting an author’s blog
Part 6: Book reviewers on the Web
Part 7: Free publicity for book authors

10 Replies to “Part 8: Book video trailers”

  1. This article has a wealth of information in it, great links, and is just fun in general! I just discovered your site, and it’s fantastic! I can’t wait to wade through all of the articles. Social media, authors, writing, social networking, and random geekiness are all right up my alley. The only thing I would have added to this article is the idea that soon-to-be bestselling first time authors at home can use this newest marketing push as a tool to hone their writing craft. Why not make an amateur book video at home? Look in the camera, talk about your book or have your friend interview you, etc., before you start a project? It can be a great way to get plotting and character thoughts “down on paper” and help generate feelings of accomplishment. Maybe by seeing yourself in a video, you’ll think “I can DO this! I CAN write a book.” Keep up the good work, love the blog!!!

  2. Thanks, PurpleCar. I’ve always found creative writers to be friendly and eager to help each other. The Web makes it so easy to stay connected and exchange information efficiently.

    I see you agree that we’re going to be seeing a lot more book-related videos. The possibilities are exciting.

    BTW, via Anonymom, I discovered a brilliant concept blog called Six Sentences that will interest all writers. Wouldn’t you know? It has its own promotional videos.

    Now, I’ll enjoy following all of the links from PurpleCar.

  3. Great blog! I see a lot of author-made videos and many of them are really good. I’ve seen some funny ones recently that I really have enjoyed.

    COS has been making them since 2002 and are the only company to have won both the Davey (International Film Award) and the Telly (equal to an Emmy but for commercials) Awards specifically for book video.

    We’ve seen an increase in booksellers using them. Borders Group has taken our videos since 2003. A lot of independent booksellers started using them, playing them both on their websites and in some cases, in their stores. Barnes and Noble recently started taking the majority of our videos this year.

    Borders has a dedicated page for them here-

    Currently every video on that page is a COS video. We’re very proud of the reputation we’ve worked hard to gain with booksellers.

    People always think it’s expensive to have one made, but really it isn’t. I won’t plug our videos, but I’ll give you a link so you can check it out if you’re curious-

    What I do want to say is that for the cost of a print ad that someone will see one time, your video can stay on the internet for a year and be seen by new eyes continuously. Videos can be distributed to any of the over 200 online user-generated upload sites that are available and take book video. It’s a good investment and a good tool.

    And if you’re someone who has made their own please send it to us! We own Reader’s Entertainment TV and we play non-COS videos there! If you mention this blog we’ll set you up at no charge!

    Have a great week and keep watching book video! They’re so much fun!

  4. Sheila:

    Thanks for commenting. I agree that book trailers could be the next big thing, and it’s fun to speculate on how they’ll evolve. Does Circle of Seven Productions ever receive suggestions from viewers?

    When searching for your Davey Award- and Telly Award-winning trailers, I happened to find Scrap Fairy Designs, a producer in Charlotte, North Carolina, who designs BookPeek videos, MySpace layouts, and websites for romance novels at prices starting at $150-$250. I’m sure the production of book trailers is becoming very competitive. Fortunately, being an innovator must have given you an early advantage.

    More questions come to mind, which I’ll ask in an email message. Maybe we can promote this discussion to a new post.

  5. Robin

    Sorry to reply a year later but just ran across this reply. Yes that post is from me. The book video trailer business has been very good this year and I expect it to be outstanding in 2011.


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