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How to Make a Book Trailer Without Spoiling the Book

By November 1, 2018August 12th, 2020No Comments

There are many different approaches when it comes to how to make a book trailer. Some opt for live action and others for animation. Depending on the type of book, a satirical or dramatic approach might be better. And all these concerns don’t even take into account all of the different styles of film, from documentary to more experimental.

The ultimate goal of any effective book trailer is to give audiences a taste of the story, without giving away everything. This leads to some basic questions, which shape entire trailers. One of the biggest ones is whether to show the faces of the featured characters or not.

There are actually several arguments for and against showing the character’s faces in book trailers. Some say it spoils the reading experience. Others argue it’s no different than seeing a movie first and then reading the book (think Fight Club, or The Godfather). It really depends on a wide variety of factors. These include the source material as well as the author’s preference.

In general, most makers of book trailers prefer to leave the exact details of the character’s faces out of the picture. However, many of our indie authors, especially with young adult or romance novels, get a thrill out of seeing their characters portrayed on screen. A careful balance can be achieved in these cases that’s super effective.

What if you want to simply tease the book without showing character details? We’ve put together a few examples of Film 14 trailers that did just that. It will show you some ways we have approached this from a cinematic standpoint. Here is how we do it at Film 14!

Half Bad

The main focus in this trailer is the cage. Our team actually built it from the ground up based on the narrative. In order to keep the character vague we approached the actor slowly from behind. Then we used Requiem for a Dream-style cutaways to the actor’s face.

However, even then we only showed jigsawed portions of the actor’s face. You can see that he’s the young man in the novel, but there is a lack of concrete detail that builds mystery. This means that audiences are forced to engage with the trailer by filling in the blanks themselves.

how to make a book trailer

The Book of All Lovers

We’ve been told the trailer for Bruno Ribeiro’s poetry collection feels like a Terrence Malick film and dammit we’ll take it! The filmmakers chose to focus on the warm colors of the robed men. This idea built the foundation of the image system for the trailer.

Most of the characters are also filmed from behind. This means that even partial features are left out. Doing so builds intrigue and mystery through images. 

BOAL Blog

Fate’s Forsaken

This trailer was directed by the same geniuses who created the trailer for Half Bad, The Deka Brothers. They took a similar approach by using one-set-up and pushing in, this time to reveal the partially obscured close-up of the central character.

How much is shown or not shown of a character can make a powerful impression on an audience.Giving them space to wonder and imagine can really suck them into the world of the story.

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Summit Lake

The book trailer for Charlie Donlea’s mystery thriller Summit Lake keeps a strong distance from all of the characters as it sets up the plot. There actually isn’t a single human face in the trailer. However, you still get a strong sense of who the characters are and the mood of the novel. The director also smartly used blue color filters to create a moody atmosphere.

These are of course only a few ways to approach book trailer making. Depending on the source material, team, and tastes of the author, there are so many ways to think about making a stellar trailer. Animation, author’s trailers, and Title Teasers are also very popular options for book trailers. How much or how little you reveal in a trailer is an intriguing question with many different answers.

If you want to learn more about what book trailers are and how they help authors reach audiences check out this article from Creative Penn. It gives you a quick and fast guide to understanding what book trailers are, why they’ve gotten popular, and the amazing effects they can have!

Need a book trailer? Film 14 offers book trailers and author services such as audiobook recording, book cover design, and more! Check us out here, or shoot us an email! Don’t forget to subscribe to Film 14 for literary and film listicles and book trailer news.