Ah, the olden days, when you discovered books through browsing shelves, or reading reviews in print.
Actually, those methods are still available to most of us in modern times, and any true bookworm will admit that a trip to the library or bookstore remains a pleasure, and that sometimes, a great review in a newspaper or magazine can make you decide to seek out a particular title.
But the great thing about living right now is that you have choices. You can get recommendations from your neighborhood book group, from recommendation sites like GoodReads, even by sharing your favorites on Twitter or Instagram.
One of the greatest things about social-media sharing? Visual content.
While that began with simple images of book jackets and has progressed through carefully curated images with stacks of books surrounded by related objects, there’s another category of visual content that you shouldn’t ignore: Book trailers.
The Benefits of Book Trailers
Like movie and television-show trailers, book trailers are designed to make you want more. They don’t necessarily “give spoilers” or tell you the entire story; the best book trailers help you figure out if the featured book is for you, if it’s intriguing, and help you make a decision about buying or borrowing it as soon as possible. Yes, you want to be tempted by the fruit of another. . . book trailer.
If you’ve never watched a book trailer, you may not know what makes one really good, so in this post we’ve gathered a few tips on how to tempt viewers to become readers. What do we mean by “tempt?” First, look at those words “viewers” and “readers.” A book trailer is about marketing. You want to increase the likelihood that someone who watches your trailer will consider buying your book.
However, book trailers are also self-contained pieces of content. If it appeals to a viewer and she watches it more than once, or, even better, shares it with her own social audiences, then you know you’ve also created something that will enhance the book.
Tempt-ational Book Trailer Tips
#1 Keep Score – Adding Music to your Masterpiece
A trailer needs music, and that doesn’t mean just a mix of favorite or relevant songs. The score for your trailer should follow your book’s theme. Sometimes it’s OK to mix up styles (think of “Marie Antoinette” and its soundtrack of 80s neo-punk songs) as long as the clash between them is exciting and understandable, much like this trailer we did for a period-piece Young Adult novel… set to trap music.
#2 Go With the Flow — Video Editing is Key
Anyone who has ever written an essay knows that you have to make transitions between paragraphs. You have to do the same thing when you’re telling a visual story. Make sure, if your book has different voices or other changes in tone, that you make it easy for viewers to follow them.
Keep it simple, stupid. OK, you’re not stupid, and neither are your viewers, but a strong, interesting trailer that uses few props and little text can be a winner. This is where we can take our cue from some of the Movie Trailer Greats. Remember “The Blair Witch Project?” Still gives some of us shivers.
#4 Script Carefully — Write for Video
Even if you write a very simple script, it has to be, well, scripted. Which means you have to think about every word of it. This is not the time to grab copy from your book jacket or press release. Remember, people are seeing this action, not reading it.
This beautiful video by Lessons from the Screenplay shows just how author-screenwriter Gillian Flynn took her best-selling book Gone Girl from novel to script to screen. It reads very differently from her prose!
#5 No Summaries…
Save the plot summary for someone’s book report. In your trailer, you want to tease the viewer with high and low points rather than explaining beginning and middle and end. A trailer of any kind is a sort of fan dance. What you conceal is as important as what you reveal.
#6 … And No Spoilers!
The concealment must include any details that would mar a mystery, ruin a romance, trip up a thriller. Even if you think a big reveal will make your trailer more popular, step on the brakes and think about your goal of selling a book.
Ever watch a movie trailer where the clip gives away everything? Yeah, let’s not do that.
#7 Clear Calls to Action
Finally, save the sales pitch for last. Not only will it help viewers remember the information (cover, blurbs, publisher, your website), it will make your trailer seem less like a piece of direct marketing—and more like something artful that tempts viewers toward a purchase.
In this Book Trailer for award-winning journalist Jo Giese’s memoir about her mother, Jo recounts some handy lessons from her mother, which are in turn recounted in the book. While the entire video is about the book, it doesn’t clobber the viewer with a hard sell. Instead, it frames the lessons as something useful for the audience. However, the “end card” still contains valuable information about the cover, release date and a helpful review to help seal the deal.
And with that, here’s our sales pitch!
If you enjoyed this post about the best bookstores check out: The Top 5 Alt-History Books on Earth, and their Book Trailers.