Archive for October 27th, 2009


Book trailers: you know you want to

First things first: the lucky winner of the Shadowfae giveaway is:


Congratulations, Paula. Your book is on its way. Thanks so much to all who entered.

Now on with it. Book trailers. Some love ’em, some… don’t. Some say they never watch them. Some say they never buy a book because of them. Others swear they trawl the internet searching for them and watch every single one they can lay their hands on.

Me, I don’t know whether it’s a good marketing/publicity strategy or not. I merely made a book trailer because it was fun to make.

Many people shake their heads at this, and mutter uncalled-for comments involving the words ‘pinhead’ and ‘computer geek’. But no longer.

Behold, Erica’s Seven Steps to Making Your Own Classy Book Trailer.

The very first thing you need to do is watch this video.

It’s not a book trailer. And it’s shinier by far than anything a lowly author could hope to achieve. But it says everything I want to say about mood, pacing and image selection much more eloquently than I could ever hope to. Watch this, and you’ll get everything you need to know about this wonderful TV show, without getting the tiniest inkling of the plot.

Clever, yes? Of course, it helps that Henry Cavill is possibly the most beautiful man alive. Pause while you all rush off to drool over your Tudors DVDs. Done? Right. Now we can carry on.

One. Think about the mood of your book.

Remember The Tudors credits, and repeat after me: a trailer is not back cover copy.

A trailer is not back cover copy. Look at any trailer that merely reiterates the cover blurb and I guarantee you’ll be bored in ten seconds flat. A trailer showcases the mood of your book. And ‘mood’ is just another way of saying ‘author brand’.

How do you want readers to see your books? Are they dark, sassy, sexy, brooding, light-hearted, dramatic, laugh-out-loud funny? Then every single element of your trailer — music, images, voiceover, text, transitions — needs to reflect that.

Imagine those Tudors credits if they’d gone for plot over style. ‘Well, it’s the sixteenth century, right, and there’s this king…’ Uh huh. Pass the Supernatural DVDs.

Two. Decide how much money you’ve got to spend.

Photos, footage and music cost money. There is some free stuff out there, but it’s a) not very good; and b) been used to death by every author with no budget, ie. all of them. Stock photos — and you’re looking for the royalty-free ones, which means not that the image itself is free (it probably isn’t) but that once you’ve purchased it, you can use it as many times as you like without further charge — range from a few cents to the tens of dollars.

Check out sites like and to see what you’ll be up for. For a 60-second trailer, you’ll need anything from 10 to 20 images. Your budget will determine how much you can do.

Three. Get out your software.

On the Mac, I use iMovie. PCs generally come with Windows MovieMaker. It won’t hurt you. Go on, get it out and have a play. It’s designed to be easy to use. You can add text and music, drag images around, set their duration and how you want to transition between images — with a fade, a snap, a whirl, all kinds of fun effects.

Warning: this ascension to geekdom can be addictive.

Four. Storyboard.

This is a fancy term for ‘get out your images and play around with them’. Drop your images into Movie Maker and play around with them. Add some text. See what happens.

Tip: before you purchase any images, copy the watermarked thumbnails from stock image sites. It is illegal to use them for your trailer — that would be a copyright violation — but you can borrow them to play with on your own computer, to help you choose which ones you want to buy, and then delete them afterwards.

Typically, a romance trailer would include the following in some order: the heroine, the situation, the hero, the rising conflict. Think about how you can use images to illustrate these. It doesn’t matter if the photos don’t look exactly like your characters or locations. Remember: mood, mood, mood. And don’t forget your cover image, if you’ve got one.

Five. Pay attention to pacing.

Find some trailers you don’t like and watch them a few times. Try to figure out why they don’t make you want to rush out and buy the book. Is it because the images are tired? The text uninteresting? Do the images move too slowly? For me the number one reason is pace. Give your viewers some credit — they can follow you. Don’t make them wait too long for the next line of text or image transition.

Six. Put it on the Internet.

The software will let you export the trailer in the correct format for online viewing. Pick your time — not too long before your book’s release, so people don’t have the chance to forget about it — and post away. YouTube and MySpace are two of the most popular sites. And don’t forget to tag your trailer with useful buzzwords, so when people search, they find it.

Seven. Tell people.

Spread the word. Tweet, blog, spam all those Yahoo groups you’re on. Maybe create a contest around your trailer. Do anything you can to make people watch it. It’s your masterpiece, after all.

That’s it. Be creative. Be bold. Have fun!

Oh, and in case you’re wondering, here’s my first ever go at a book trailer. It’s not perfect. But I think it’s a decent effort at not being boring, at least 🙂

So you tell me: what do you like in a book trailer? Do you even watch them? What are some of your favourites? Post the links if you care to. Got any hints on making a good trailer? Come and share!



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