In light of the lockdown non-events of 2020, it’s easy to see why book trailers and cinematic author videos are the new book launch. Since nobody knows how long the stay-at-home orders and social distancing will last and when we will be able to gather again for book readings by authors touring new works, the traditional book launch events need to be tweaked a little bit and spiced up with some tech. Book trailers have been steadily gaining popularity over the last decade–nowadays they’re a must for authors releasing new works or for those who want to give a marketing boost to their older stuff.
We’re not saying book trailers and author videos should replace a book launch entirely, we’re just saying they’re the NEW book launch. In today’s world, no book launch is complete–or effective–without some video content to push it along. What better way for authors to reach their audience online than with a book trailer or cinematic author video?
Book Trailer vs Cinematic Author Video
Ok, so we know that book trailers and author video interviews are the wave of the future book launch but what’s the difference between the two? Aren’t they the same thing? Of course not! The difference is in the format and presentation.
An author video is usually an interview with the author either answering questions or describing the nature of the book to the camera. A book trailer is a more creative presentation of the book, the other a more straight-forward or interview-style presentation in which the author talks about their career or a new release. That’s not to say author video interviews can’t be cinematic and just as interesting as an exciting book trailer. On the contrary, an author video on YouTube should be cinematic. While the author may be simply talking about a new book or taking us through a career retrospective, the video should show some interesting footage that pertains to what the author is discussing.
A book trailer (a good one, at least) will present a book like it’s a movie. In less than a minute, a professional book trailer should show us roughly what the book is about and more importantly, give us a sense of the overall tone of the story. For example, if you’re running a horror/ thriller, suck us in with a tense score and maybe a barrage of graphic imagery that traumatizes us into needing to know what the book is about. Don’t give away too much…make us buy the book to find out what happens next!
Exciting Book Trailers
Here’s a sample of a thrilling book trailer that looks like it’s already a film. Check out the trailer for Blood’s A Rover by James Ellroy for some action-packed cinematic book trailer inspiration.
Book trailers rely on great acting and storytelling techniques to bring across the tone of a story and make viewers want to read it, whereas an author video relies on the author explaining the story to us. When done right, both can be equally compelling. It just depends on your style as an author, what you want to say, and how you want to say it. Remember, the goal is to convert viewers into readers!
The Structure Of A Successful Book Trailer
A good book trailer should be concise and fun to watch. It should hook the viewer right away and hold their attention until the end when the action stops and a quick blurb pops up that says where to find the book. There are plenty of examples of bad book trailers out there that look like they were shot and edited on an iPhone by an eighth-grader. Nothing against eighth-graders, most of them probably know more about technology than I do, but I say this to illustrate a point. If you want your book trailer to have the maximum effect by reaching the most viewers and converting them into readers, then you need a professional book trailer that looks beautiful and plays like a movie.
Book trailers can be a lot of fun because, like music videos, they possess the freedom to be poetic and experimental and still get the tone of the book across to viewers. It’s important to convey as much information as possible by showing it rather than leaning too heavily on explanatory titles, so show–don’t tell–and make it interesting. A book trailer should convey the tone of the story with enough information to suck the viewer in and make them want to read the book in about a minute or so of screen time.
A Cinematic Author Video Done Right
Author video interviews can be used to help sell a new book or the author themselves. It’s more acceptable for author videos to be longer than book trailers because rather than showing short snippets designed to hook our attention, they’re more like mini-documentaries with the author as the main subject giving a “talking head” style interview to the camera. Obviously, we shouldn’t bore the audience entirely with this, so a good author video will be broken up with some interesting b-roll footage while the author does the talking. The whole point is to sell the author’s work in an interesting way that doesn’t feel like a sales pitch.
Examples of Author Videos
The Film 14 produced author video for the late Warren Alder is an unguarded entry to the life of a celebrated author in just over 2 minutes. This shining example of an author video shows us sweeping Manhattan skyline views from the author’s apartment, along with shots of him at work typing on the computer or writing in his notebook, while he explains his life as a writer to us in an inspirational 2 minutes that made me google his name in order to learn more about his books. Mission accomplished.
This whopper of an author video for Letters from an Astrophysicist by Neil deGrasse Tyson is over 10 minutes long, and yet it is a joy to watch and has millions of views. Doesn’t that break all the rules behind what an author video should be? The only real rule is to convert viewers into readers, and a sure way to do that is to make a compelling book trailer. Publishing powerhouse Penguin Books knows how to promote this author–just let him talk! The man’s a genius and has interesting, insightful things to say about everything from God to artificial intelligence. Watch him do that here, but be warned…it will make you want to read his book.
Book Trailers and Cinematic Author Videos vs A Traditional Book Launch
Aside from the fact that some of the most important aspects of a traditional book launch (ideas like throwing a launch party and touring the book through live speaking engagements) aren’t an option right now because of COVID world-cancellation, it’s more important than ever for authors to embrace the online tools at their disposal, the cornerstone of which, is an effective book trailer. It’s true, the traditional book launch ideas toolbox is full of valuable tools for book marketing that every author should utilize when planning a new release, however, none of them can hold a candle to the power of a solid book trailer as a tool for continuing to reach new readers years after the initial book launch.
Aspects of a Traditional Book Launch
Let’s take a look at some of the ingredients of a traditional book launch that can be enhanced with a book trailer to achieve the ultimate goal of getting your work into the most reader’s hands.
Blasting your email list
Paid advertising online such as Google, Facebook, Instagram, and Youtube ads.
Getting reviews, interviews, and media appearances
Constantly evangelizing your new book on social media
Doing any of these things without a book trailer or author video is a waste of time in today’s world. The people want content they can watch!
A Book Launch on Steroids
Any author who is even faintly conscious of how book marketing works in this century knows that a book trailer is an integral component to any book launch, but it is also much more than that: a book launch is temporary, a book trailer lasts forever. For the sake of the actual book launch, the weeks leading up to and following the release day, a compelling book trailer will serve to spike interest and pre-orders and maybe even help your book gain more media attention than not having one. The two are not mutually exclusive–a book launch can exist without a book trailer, however, there’s something that the press surrounding an initial book launch won’t do; continue to help your book find new audiences years down the line.
How To Make A Book Trailer or Cinematic Author Video
Film 14 is the go-to resource for those who want to make a book trailer or cinematic author video that is compelling, looks great, and has the potential to reach millions of viewers.
We’ve been at it for years and our catalog speaks for itself. A book trailer doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg, but it certainly can if you have the budget. Regardless of the size and scope of the project, Film 14 makes cinematic book trailers and author videos designed to spread the word about your book for years to come.
If you enjoyed this piece, check out 14 Book Trailers with Millions of Views!
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