It’s hard to watch TV without running across a trailer for the latest movie or show. Enticing and fun, these teasers are a good way to rope in potential audience members and stir buzz. What does this have to do with book publishing? Well, marketing with book trailers is just as crucial.
Trailers are no longer exclusive to film and TV. When made well, book trailers are an appealing way to grab your readers’ attention and promote your book. This guide will go over all the ins and outs of marketing with book trailers, from what a book trailer is to ways you can promote yours.
A book trailer is a video created to promote your book. They first started to appear in the early 2000s with the dawn of video-sharing sites like YouTube. As video-sharing sites and video-editing apps have become more and more ubiquitous, marketing with book trailers has seen a growth in popularity.
Book trailers take on many forms. Although some authors embrace cinematic book trailers, a good trailer doesn’t have to mimic the film industry exactly. They can use any combination of motion graphics, images, and film. Some authors appear in their trailers to discuss their book in a vlog-style video.
Creating an effective book trailer can have many benefits. They’re easily consumable and can be shared across all major social media platforms. They can make a lasting impression on your audience and are more attention grabbing than text or still images alone.
Moreover, because they live on the internet, they can be shared and reshared for as long as they remain online. They’re a convenient way to introduce someone to your book—it’s as easy as emailing them a link.
On the other hand, book trailers have to compete with movie trailers in terms of quality. A bad trailer can turn off readers or drum up negative attention. Marketing with book trailers also requires an investment in time and money, and it can be hard to determine how effective they are in increasing sales and publicity.
Though they’re growing in popularity, book trailers still must contend with an industry-held belief that they’re too costly and don’t convert to sales. When incorporated into a book marketing strategy and regularly promoted, however, book trailers can prove successful. Statistics from MotionCue found that 70 percent of marketers said videos showed a positive ROI. Wistia found the average video conversion rate has increased from 8.6 percent in 2016 to 12.7 percent in 2020.
Moreover, they no longer look like the iMovie slideshows of 2005. The book trailer for author Jared Young’s debut novel, Into the Current, was entered into the SXSW film festival, where it won the Title Sequence and Audience awards. On YouTube, trailers for books like As Dead as It Gets, by Katie Alender, and Lily Alone, by Jacqueline Wilson, have garnered millions of views.
It can be hard to sum up the essence of your book in a short video. For authors, visual thinking and the “Show, don’t tell” rule of filmmaking can prove difficult. A good book trailer does a few things:
To outsource or not to outsource: that is the question. Outsourcing marketing with book trailers to a professional video-editing company will cost more money than if you did it yourself. On average, it takes several hundred dollars to $2,000 to make a thirty-second teaser. Longer book trailers with more complex needs, like a cast of actors, can cost anywhere from $3,500 to $15,000 and beyond. The LA Times ran a 2011 article on one book trailer company that produces trailers with a full cast of actors, costumes, set design, and CGI—all for up to $50,000.
Luckily, most book trailer editing services cost a fraction of that amount. If you have no expertise in making book trailers, outsourcing will save you the time you’d need to take to learn how to use equipment and edit video. Additionally, a professionally edited book trailer results in a higher-quality product.
The actual contents of a book trailer vary depending on your genre, audience, and budget, but every trailer has imagery, audio, and enough content to give readers an understand of what your book is about.
When marketing with book trailers, imagery can include video, animated graphics, photos, or illustrations. Your trailer should also include a picture of your book cover.
The book trailer for Zenith, by Sasha Alsberg and Lindsay Cummings, includes fanart of the characters that mimics the style of a graphic novel. This is one example of a book trailer with a lower budget that can appeal to audiences.
Your audio can include voiceover, as in this trailer for The In-Between, by Jeff Goins. Or it can take a more cinematic approach with dialogue and diegetic sound effects.
When describing your book content, answer the question, What is your book about? Don’t include a full summary, but emphasize the book’s tone. What is the main idea of the book? This can be summarized in a word or phrase: spiritualism, enduring love, the horror of isolation, rebellion in space. You can include a blurb, read a favorite excerpt as a voiceover, or highlight a review.
The way your trailer uses audio and imagery will add to this theme. For example, a horror novel might employ a dark color scheme, cinematography that makes the viewer feel claustrophobic, or music with squealing violins and an ominous bassline. Those elements would be jarring in a trailer for a light summer romance.
You can include imagery of your main characters or shoot a pivotal scene from the book, though this isn’t always a necessity. Some readers, publishers, and authors enjoy being able to visualize the protagonist on their own and feel trailers can intrude on the reading experience.
Once you have your book trailer completed (and once you’ve finished celebrating the completion of your book trailer), it’s time to get it into the world.
Upload your video to a YouTube channel or Vimeo page. If you already have an author YouTube channel, that will give you the advantage of a prebuilt audience. Research ways to optimize your video for SEO. Make use of the description, title, and any tags to help potential readers find your video.
Activate your social media sites. As you plan your book marketing campaign, be aware of what social media apps your audience uses and what similar authors they engage with. These will be the main sites to target. Virtually every major social media platform allows for video, but the specifics vary from site to site.
Twitter has limits on how long your video can be, so shorter, teaser-length book trailers are a better fit. Instagram allows users to upload videos on the app or through IGTV, an extension of Instagram that enables longer videos to be shared. Instagram Reels, TikTok, and YouTube Shorts are all good for uploading videos that are a maximum of one minute long. TikTok recently lengthened its limit to three minutes, but if you intend to use these apps, it’s easier to cross post the same video.
If you have a Facebook author page, upload your video there and engage with your community by answering comments and encouraging shares. On Instagram, you can promote your posts by linking to them in your Instagram Story. On Twitter, retweet your video periodically so it shows up on followers’ timelines no matter their time zone.
Outside of social media, Amazon’s author page will allow you to upload video, alongside images of your book, descriptions, and an author bio.
Similarly, you should publish your video to your author website near a link to where readers can buy your book. Consider placing your video at the top of the page to immediately catch your readers’ attention.
Marketing with book trailers is important, but do not, under any circumstances, steal photos, video, or music and use them in your trailer.
What does online stealing look like? Using copyrighted material without permission will land you in hot water. Even stock photos can be copyrighted and may require payment for a license. You will likely be forced to take down your trailer, and your reputation can take a nosedive if you’ve stolen someone else’s work. At worst, someone could sue.
To avoid this, make sure you’ve gotten permission from the copyright owner to use any assets in your book trailer. If you’re purchasing stock photos or music, make sure you’re buying the correct license from a reputable vendor. Do your research to avoid nightmare situations, like buying a license from a scammer who doesn’t own the rights to what they’re selling.
If you’ve outsourced your book trailer, do your research to hire a reputable video production company. Avoid companies that use templates, with identical-looking trailers. Look for reviews and testimonials. Finally, check to make sure that all the audio and imagery used has been used with permission.
It’s not enough to publish your trailer on YouTube and leave it there. As with your book, once you’ve put it out into the world, you need to promote it. Luckily, it’s convenient to use your book trailer as marketing material; just send people the link.
You can email your trailer to your contacts list, friends, and family. If you have a newsletter—which you should, as it’s an ideal way to build a readership—ask your readers to check your trailer out. Reach out to bloggers and experts in your network to share your trailer. Consider writing a guest blog post and linking to your trailer at the end.
Don’t forget the power of buying ads. Research from Databox indicates that 60 percent of marketers say video ads drive engagement more than image ads on Facebook, likely because they grab and keep their audience’s attention for longer.
There are many occasions that fit book promotion. You can drop your book trailer before your book comes out to drum up excitement and promote preorders. During book launch, promote it again and link to places where readers can buy your book.
Consider running several shorter marketing campaigns throughout the year rather than one long one. This will allow you to take advantage of different times of year, like the holiday gift-buying season or a day related to your book. (Halloween, for example, is a prime time to promote horror novels.)
When you reach the anniversary of when your book was first published or when a new version like the audiobook or paperback comes out, promote your trailer again to keep the conversation going.
Marketing with book trailers is a versatile, engaging way to appeal to your readers. Whether you’re traditionally published or making your career as a successful indie author, a book trailer adds panache to your marketing campaign.
Are you looking for a clean, appealing book trailer to market your book? Reach out today for a professionally edited book trailer from Elite!