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
- The Truth About the Night by Martyn Burke
- 13 Bullets by David Wellington
- Die For Me by Karen Rose
- Absolute Fear by Lisa Jackson
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:
- Yahoo! Video
- jumpcut (a Yahoo! Service)
Google Video (which may eventually beconsolidated with YouTube)
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:
- Bestseller Trailers
- Circle of Seven Productions
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.
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