Friday, 27 May 2016

10 points about Book Trailers

Do book trailers sell books?

I've made a lot of book trailers for my books over the years. I find them fun and easy to make, and a nice way to bring some interest to my books.

Here's my most recent trailer, for the spooky Weird Stories Gone Wrong middle grade series.

But does a book trailer equal an increase in sales? I get asked that quite a bit. The short answer ... who knows? It's impossible to say. The longer answer though, is that while a book trailer may not be easily equated to a boost in sales, it IS definitely an easy way to extend a warm hand to potential readers, and to control the marketing tone, voice and overall first impression of your book. It's not essential maybe, and it doesn't replace all the hard work your publisher or publicist is doing on your behalf, but it IS another tool in the marketing toolbox. A part of the mix, if you do it well.

So if you're thinking of trying a book trailer for your new book, here are 10 pointers from someone who has made quite a few (okay, six):

1. Keep it short. Your book trailer is a tiny teaser, a little hook into your book. It doesn't need to tell the whole story, keep it more like the back cover copy than a chapter outline.  I've found 60-90 seconds is best.

2. What are you selling? You don't want people to guess what your trailer is about. Show your book cover at the beginning and the end of your trailer.

3. How do they reach you? Add your contact information and your publisher's, on or near the last frame. 

4. Add Music. I also add a musical score that fits the theme, and as a musician that makes it doubly fun (I've composed and created the guitar music for all my book trailers). If you're not a musician, there are free music archives you can search for music or sound effects.

5. Time your trailer release. I try to make a trailer about six months before the release date of the book. This way it will hit Youtube about the same time as the book goes out for review as an ARC or E/ARC. It gives reviewers and early readers one more place to check the message, feel and tone of the title.

6. It doesn't have to be expensive. I make the trailers myself in Powerpoint, then save them as .mpg files and upload them to Youtube. The first one I ever made was recorded with my cellphone (an old cellphone at that). I've also hired a videographer to make one for me, more expensive but I couldn't get the effect I wanted by myself. Sometimes your publisher will include a book trailer with their marketing efforts (not always).

7. Let your illustrations tell the story. If your book is illustrated, and your publisher and illustrator are okay with you using them, illustrations make a great book trailer! Be sure to give the illustrator a credit.

8. Entertain. Bore your viewers at your peril! Keep it interesting, fun, even educational, but never dull. Use the language, imagery or feel of your book to sell it.

9. Make it timeless. Looking back, there are things I should have done differently in the early days. One of my trailers is now 4 years old and has an old release date on it: Coming November 2012. Probably I should have just said, "November 2012."

10. Don't overthink it. Frankly, I like the home-made touch, the less slick trailers are always the ones that I enjoy the best. Search "book trailers" on youtube and you'll find thousands. They all look the same after a while ... try to find the ones that stand out. 

Do book trailers sell books? Perhaps, but more importantly, they're an enticing, warm bellying-up to the reader, a fun way to introduce yourself and your title. Have fun making your own!

Take a look at mine and let me know what you think:

Jake and the Giant Hand Book Trailer 2016:

Myles and the Monster Outside Book Trailer:

Carter and the Curious Maze Book Trailer:

The Strange Gift of Gwendolyn Golden (produced by George Panayotou):

The Lost Gargoyle Series (on an OLD cellphone):

Jake and the Giant Hand 1st try (using a powerful film maker program I couldn't figure out!):

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