Ballads of Book Trailers, Part 1

Book trailers are all the rage lately, and given our highly visual culture, there are worse things you can do to put one out there.  If you don’t know what a book trailer is, I suspect you have a lot of research to do about marketing yourself period.  It’s a movie trailer.  For books.

Flash is probably your best bet for putting together a book trailer (it’s what I’m using), but really any media editor that lets you import sound and pictures to a timeline is fine.  (Adobe Aftereffects and Windows Media would be my second and third recommendations.)  If any and all of this stuff is over your head, good news: you can hire an artist to put your book trailer together if you can’t.  But for the most part, these programs are pretty accessible and intuitive for learning yourself; book trailers aren’t particularly complicated things.  If you’re making a major investment in writing, you might want to make an investment in a marketing skill as well.

So, what to do?

1. Do your research. Watch a whole bunch of book trailers.  Like books, there are a lot of bad ones out there.  But you need to gauge what’s bad and good in order to get an idea of what you want to do (and don’t want.)

For example: good book trailer:

Baaaaaaaaaad book trailer:

Really bad.

And please note that the live-action element has nothing to do with the effectiveness of a book trailer.  You have to hit your marks of hooking the audience, making them care, and creating mood, whether its with actors, or just pictures and dialogue.  (All of which we’ll get into later.)

2.  Write it down. It all starts here.  What do you want your book trailer to be like?  I would recommend that you don’t start with stuff like “In an untamed land, Hero A must do this thing … Enter a world of Adventure!”  Think outside the box.  The Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter trailer puts us directly into a scene from the book.  (Graceling, on the other hand, is pretty expository.)  A snippet of dialogue, a character conflict, or situation is much better to depict than rattling off your story’s pitch line and so on.  You’ve already done your work for that in the appropriate areas.  Pitch lines are meant for agents and literary-inclined; your book trailer is a chance to grab the attention of the rest.  You’re strictly in the idea stage at this point, so anything goes.  Try out a few ideas.  Come on, it’s your chance to imagine your book as a movie!


About coyoteclockwork

I currently live near Salt Lake City, Utah, a dinosaur mecca! I write and illustrate YA fantasy books. I grew up in Texas on five acres, training dogs to pull carts and riding horses. I am largely self-taught as an artist, and prefer digital media. I just released my first big indy novel with the help of Kickstarter: a full color dinosaur novel with 100+ illustrations, Mark of the Conifer.
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2 Responses to Ballads of Book Trailers, Part 1

  1. Stormy says:

    Oh…god, that Graceling one was bad. I had no inclination to pick the book up, now I have even less.

    My favourite book trailer that I’ve come across is the one for Fallen (admittedly, a book I’ve never read) – ( – it doesn’t use any live-action elements, and mainly relies on the visuals from the cover (already a big selling point – I’ve known people who’ve bought it just for that), and a light-dark-Evanescence-type song fits the intended audience perfectly. It pitches the mood and the teaser very well in ~30 seconds.

  2. That was a good trailer. Thanks for linking to it; another example for folks.

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