Making a Book Trailer

An author’s online presence has never been so important in order to sell their books. An active Instagram, informative Twitter and well laid out landing page are all perfect ways of boosting your growth. If you’re not sure how to make a website landing page, don’t worry; it’s simple, just look at vs. Carrd for more information on the best one to use. Another great way to improve your presence while also building hype for your new books is to create book trailers.

Ever since book trailers came out, I’ve been taking notes off the writers’ loops on how to make them, what length they should be, what to include, etc. Recently, I distilled these notes into a one page outline for using Windows Movie Maker to make my own video. I’d save money if I could do it myself, right? First I began by writing the text for upcoming mystery release, Shear Murder. I made sure to use short lines and action verbs and keep it brief.  

Now it was time to search for photos to match the lines. I went to my favorite site for royalty free pix at and started adding photos to my Lightbox. This is time consuming but fun when you find the right characters and poses to suit your story.
Next comes the music. You’ll want to find a piece that evokes the feel of your story, builds tension, and has stanzas that work where you want your images or text to change. Huh? I am not musically inclined enough to figure this out. I searched through some of the sites and found some cool melodies but they cost nearly $30 each. Clearly I wasn’t looking in the right place. Now I’d have to start all over somewhere else. I tried a new site for music, but damned if I could figure out how it works. I can play the samples, but there isn’t any Lightbox. How do you acquire the tune?
This is getting too time consuming and confusing. I really wish I could learn how to do it myself, but I am ready to give up. I look through my list of video trailer producers. There’s one who offers reasonable fees if you do some of the work. No problem; I’ve already written my text and selected most of the photos. Budget is a concern, and I don’t want to spend a whole lot for an entity that isn’t proven to drive sales. Nonetheless, I’m afraid I’ll have to bite the bullet and hire someone. My time would be better spent elsewhere.
As for learning how to do a podcast next, forget it!
See the video for Silver Serenade here:
Produced for me by author Linnea Sinclair.

How many of you are Do It Yourselfers?


15 thoughts on “Making a Book Trailer

  1. As best as I can tell, they don’t do any harm, but I doubt they do much good either. Any visual is only effective if customers (readers) know they are available. I haven’t seen any trailers that made me want to read books by authors I am not familiar with and where do you post them so readers see them.

  2. I’m with John on that. The only time I see book trailers are when I happen across them and none have made me buy a book. One did help clarify for me how an author wanted her characters name pronounced for an audio book I was recording though. I do a lot of video production for my church, from music videos to short movies and will say it takes a whole of work for that 2 minute video, as much as ten to forty hours of hard work just for a couple minutes which may yield no sales is a hard risk. But then, there’s always a chance some Hollywood type may see it and give a movie contract that’ll make it all worth while.

    By the way…I use pinnacle video production software and get my sounds & music from either or licensed sources.

  3. I’ve attempted to make trailers in the past, but I haven’t found them very useful. I stay away from Royalty Free images because the ones I want tend to be expensive. For music, I’ve used Kevin MacLeod’s work at quite a bit. The nice thing about his stuff is that he not only offers it as Royality Free but free of charge. He would like to get a $5 donation for each piece that is used. I send him a donation every once in a while that is more than the $5 he would like to get because I think it is worth more than that. I still think the most effective book video is one in which the author is talking about the book.

  4. I have to say that I did buy one mystery novel based on a cute trailer. I view a book video as another sales tool and another presence on the Web when you put it up on YouTube and all your other sites. But for me, it isn’t worth the time and effort to do it myself at this stage. As for talking about my book, that would make a good podcast. Again I would have to hire someone. Basil says it takes him 10-40 hours to do a trailer. I’d rather use that time to work on my book.

  5. While a good piece does no harm, I suspect a bad one can hurt the image of the book or the author. A lot of authors who think they can do their own, can’t, and they have no idea how much their videos suck. If they could be objective and remove themselves and their book from the equation, they might see what a turkey they are creating. I’ve seen some that are so bad they embarrass me, and are only good as comic relief. But I have seen some that are very good and well done. Having talent writing books doesn’t mean talent in video production.

    My advice is to use beta watchers before you put something out.

  6. I’ve made my own and have also paid to have them done. I usually like the paid ones better. I just enjoy doing them.

    I post them afterwards on YouTube, vimeo and other free sites. And from there, other people pick up my link or embed code and repost it to many more sites after that. But you can also post them on your website book page AND B&N has them posted on your book page at the point of sale. And if you take out the website references, I’m told amazon, Walmart, Target and other places will post them on point of sale pages too.

    So its hard to track the hits on people who have watched any trailer, but my YouTube acct has my videos ranging from several hundred hits to over a thousand each for my adult books. The jury is still out on my new YA, but the popular HUNGER GAMES series in YA, got over a million hits.

    No one can say if any of those hits made a sale, but its exposure. And maybe YA is different because teens might just buy a book for a trailer. If they buy books because of covers, why not a cool book trailer?!

  7. I agree with John and Basil. I don’t think book trailers offer enough bang for the buck, and are more likely to turn off readers than make them. I’ve seen some trailers by A list authors with big budgets that were just awful (and too long).

    Trailers that are just slides and text and music don’t really do it for me, though if you enjoy putting them out there, go ahead. But it’s very hard to judge the effect they’ll have. I mean, big advertisers use millions of dollars on focus groups before they go out to the world. Can we afford that?

    I do think 30 seconds is the max no matter what form the trailer takes.

  8. I made two book videos on my own before I decided that it was a bad idea. I don’t like most book videos, even the ones produced by professionals. I have liked a few informal ones that used humor–they didn’t even try to look like “serious” trailers. The ones with dramatic music and slides don’t do much for me.

  9. I think I can explain why book trailers don’t work as expected. Here are four reasons why you should create them and why they do actually work. I started this as a comment but ended up posting a blog article about it. Here’s the link: The text follows:

    The crucial difference between traditional marketing and marketing on the web is that everything on the web is equally available to everyone all the time. Unlike traditional media outlets like TV and Radio, there are no gatekeepers controlling the flow. There are no channel line ups and no show schedules.

    In traditional media, advertisements are based on interruption marketing. They can be low-quality and still be effective because consumers can’t skip the advertisement to get to the content they want.

    Not so on the web. It’s incredibly easy to navigate to the content you want. Therefore, there is no traditional marketing because it isn’t necessary (and can actually be a liability). Consumers can connect directly with the producers of the content that they want. This has several important consequences:

    (1) The production value of a book trailer ought to be high. Low-quality might work on TV but it won’t work on the web. It’s still entirely possible that it will still get lost in the shuffle of all that is new on the web. Humans are fickle and hard to predict, but they do generally flock to whatever is *new* or anything that does something *better* than the competition. So keep the production value high and show them something they’ve never seen before. (n.b. High *value* doesn’t necessarily mean expensive or high-quality. American teens regularly buy jeans with holes already in them. Why? Because it’s considered fashionable. The jeans makers now purposefully damage their product before shipping. It’s counter-intuitive, but it’s true. The web can be counter-intuitive like that too.)

    (2) The primary purpose of your book trailer should not be to advertise your book. (!) If they’re watching it, they’re already interested. Remember, anyone can watch anything. They’ve chosen your book trailer. So, first and foremost, make it *entertaining* to keep them watching and increase the odds that they will share it with their friends (more on that next).

    (3) Leverage the power of social media. Make it easy to find your book trailer and easy to share it. Use YouTube, Vimeo, and all the rest. Your first viewers will most likely be your fans who will probably be buying your book anyway. However, give them the tools and they will share it with their friends who might not be fans (yet). Making it easy also means you don’t pick just one outlet. You can upload your book trailer to them all and you should.

    Thus, although you end up spending a lot of time creating something that will be viewed mostly by people already interested in it, you gain exposure for your product and your brand. Because…

    (4) Things published to the web live on forever. Thus, it’s entirely possible to get continual exposure for the rest of your career. In other words, it’s a marathon, not a sprint. Book trailers work over the long run. So, by all means create them. Just don’t expect an immediate payoff.

  10. I can produce wonderful videos to promote your book for the nominal fee of $10,000.00 US. Wire money into my Nigerian account to Mr. Gloria Worthington. Also as an added bonus I will send you a lottery ticket worth approximately $2,000,027.22 which you can cash in for a huge profit. This is a limited time offer.

  11. Yeah, right, Anonymous. I still think a book trailer is a viable piece of publicity as long as it’s done well enough. If a reader wants to see it, it’s there. But I wouldn’t spend a whole lot of money to get one done. Jordan may be right in that the younger generation is more attuned to visuals.

  12. I haven’t rushed out to buy a book based on a trailer but i have seen a few that have turned me off because they were so lame. I think humor can work well but i doubt even a spoof will really sell books. I

  13. The first book trailer I ever saw I didn’t know until the end that it was a book trailer…but it definitely got me to look up the book. So far I it is still the best one I’ve seen too- it was for Abraham Lincoln- Vampire Hunter.

    It would take lots of time- I am creative, but would also prefer to spend that time on my book.


Comments are closed.