This is the transcript of a talk I gave to the Independent Publishers of New England 4-27-2012. It was a great conference and I learned a lot.
An equation for a book trailer #1=Book, #2=Author #3=Video Trailer
Movie trailers pull us in with drama, comedy, even fear, and get us longing to go to the theatre. Film producers have long understood the promotional value of "previews" or "trailers" to entice the public to a particular movie. As a promotional medium the trailer has always proved a winning formula. A crossover to the literary world has been inevitable due to the recent changes in the Internet.
A book trailer is when your book becomes an entertaining mini movie that promotes the book, hoping to entice the viewer to purchase a copy. The first book trailer appeared in 2003. My own experience with book trailers began when in placing a portion of a video I made for improving handwriting on YouTube “Anyone Can Improve Their Handwriting”, obtained close to 60,000 views. That is when I began to take a closer look at the possibility of using YouTube as a marketing tool for a trailer for my own book “Leaving Home Going Home Returning Home: A Hebrew American’s Sojourn in the Land of Israel.”
A book trailer is a tool to help the author establish presence by driving traffic to the author site. This can be done by placing the trailer on YouTube and then embed the trailer in emails, social networks, web-pages, blogs , other video pages and even on Amazon.com author page. You can also make a DVD or thumb drive for your computer for showings at author signings and book stores. There are now picture frame screens that a book trailer can be played on when a new book release is on display at a book store. With Smart Phones Today, you may also place a QR code with your book trailer on your bookmark and it can be scanned by a smart phone and observed. QR codes may also be placed on mail cards invitations like Send Out Cards announcing author signings and visits.
A good book trailer should succeed in capturing the concept and mood of the book and as a result increase interest in the book. Using appropriate words for internet search engines and the right photos to hook the viewer immediately are critical. YouTube video sharing helps your book placement in Google search. With over 100 million videos being watched a day, it is very important to gain top ranking on YouTube for your book and author page, however there is conflicting advice around the Internet on just how to reach the top spot.
I just learned a secret to placement position. When people visit a webpage or Blog and press LIKE and leave a comment, then the placement of the video goes up.
Some suggest that the key to getting on the front pages is not by the number of views but by the number of people that have marked it as a favorite. For my own video on improving handwriting it was because it was the very first YouTube video on correcting handwriting. So newness of information is important for establishing presence. Making a YouTube video or book trailer right away will help in a higher Google ranking. In a trailer I made for a children’s book DuckTape where a duck teaches students about recycling; the YouTube trailer video placed the book right up there on a Google search of recycling with Disneyland. One thing is for sure: the exposure a particular video gets from YouTube is directly related to its traffic AND its ratings. High-rated and high-traffic videos are usually featured on the main pages of Youtube.
As the YouTube network is flooded with content, they allow users to include a series of basic meta-information, including the title, description, tags, language and video category. This optimization is imperative. The YouTube Website gives the following advice when uploading movies:
“When you upload your video, we require you to choose at least one category and enter at least one tag to describe the content in your video. Adding this information helps other YouTube members find your video, so if you want an audience, help them out! The more accurate the tags are on each video, the easier it is for everyone to find cool videos to watch.
To increase web traffic to your book trailer once your video is online an optimized, you should first send an email link to friends and family and any mailing lists you may have already have set up – asking them politely to vote and leave comments on YouTube.
The big question is “Do book trailers really increase sales.” Well, do advertisements lead to sales? A book trailer is an advert. The answer can be yes, if they are used as part of a package to brand the author, and if the book has content that people are interested in. A book can be used to market the author and his message and then given away as an advertisement or gift.
So why just post your book video on video sharing sites? Why not post your book video on plasma screens at airport bookstores, In author press rooms, on your book’s Amazon.com author page and also in email pitches to bookstore buyers and media? Lastly, an author TV or radio show might more easily get the idea of the book through the trailer and make a decision to invite the author based on the movie.
The professional that makes book trailers is a “book trailer designer”. They will usually have you answer a set of questions that will help them determine what look the trailer will include. Some sample questions may be “Who is your main audience”; “what impact will the book have on its readers”; “what can be learned from the book?” “Is the book a part of a series?” so that the other books in the series might be mentioned in the trailer too. A book trailer also allows for the human connection, as viewers may leave comments and the numbers of viewers on YouTube may be followed.
Nowadays, there are also book trailer awards and a good book trailer that wins an award can bring extra exposure for the book.
A suggestion for author and publisher bloggers would be to have a category for book trailers and have book trailer contests with prizes on their site.
A strategy used to increase presence is to have a series of trailers and teasers for a book. One can be of the book content, another has an author reading excerpts or narrating, and another is an interview of the author discussing “The story behind the story” of the book.
However, when making a trailer watch out for editing mistakes. One blog site about book trailers had a screen where about a third was cut off by the window on the blog site, and so were some of the words in the sentences. I have seen spelling mistakes and bloopers. In one instance, a person who made a trailer about a book on Aztec Gold used gold and yellow lettering over a gold Aztec mask. Needless to say, you could not read the wording, and probably will not be enticed to purchase the book.
I personally do not like 30 second book trailers. They probably are cheaper to make but just do not have enough time to convey the message in the book. So this got me to thinking. Is the book trailer the same as a 30 second advertisement? I come to the conclusion – NO. An advertisement wants you to purchase a product. A book trailer wants to pique interest in the subject of the book so that you will further explore the book and then be hooked and purchase the book. Or it might be to just get to know the author a little better. That can also lead to networking. I compare this in some way to a real estate agent putting an ad for a home in the paper, gets a call, and makes an appointment because you can’t sell the home over the phone. You need to get them into the office and show the house. You need the reader to be interested in the subject enough to go to look at the reviews or read a few lines. That should be the purpose of the trailer. Thus I now offer professional book reviews in a package with the trailers I produce.
Saying that,--- I noticed a video trailer with so much info per one or two second screen frame that I could not absorb what the trailer was trying to convey and was annoyed by the spectacle. This is a clear case where the theme of the book or main concept was not brought to its least common denominator because the author did not know how, and the video maker was not an author. The video concept was to use intense music and images to draw attention. This might work well for a younger teen audience, but not really for a book with a serious concept and the attention might not lead to sales. Furthermore, I noticed the videographer, loving to make films, placed her/his logo at the beginning of the video for the first 8-20 seconds. This utilizes someone else’s book as an advertisement for the video trailer company. So, like in anything, shop around, and understand something of the business and art to make a better more informed decision.
I personally decided to design book trailers because it integrates my interests in authoring, publishing, art, and network marketing.
My website is,
Entertaining Movie Trailers for Books –