Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Tips For Creating Your Book Trailer

This past weekend I attended the Nebraska Writer's Guild Annual Conference. We had several great speakers, including Mark Coker, Founder of Smashwords, who gave a great presentation on the benefits of self-publishing and interesting data related to self-published books (more on that in another post).  Another great presenter was Doug Sasse with the NWG, who gave attendees a crash course in creating book trailers. Because of the growing popularity of book trailers, I thought I'd share some of his information with you.

Book trailers are simply multimedia presentation videos with a defined structure:

Act One--the intro--30 seconds long--grabs attention, introduces protagonist, antagonist, time, place, tone, mood and conflict; also includes an inciting incident.

Act Two--the midpoint/confrontation--60 seconds long--uses scenes from the book that move toward the cliffhanger.

Act Three--the cliffhanger--10 seconds long--provides a hook to interest readers (without revealing too much)

It's also important to have a "call to action" that asks readers to do something--visit author's web site, purchase the book, etc. This section is 10 seconds long.

Finally, there is a "credits" shot that lasts 10 seconds at the very end.

Sasse also outlined five different types of book trailers:

1. Synopsis--commonly used with romance books and is like using liner notes on the inside of a book. An example is "Never Surrender" by Deanna Jewell.

2. Logline--most common of all types of trailers. Take your book's log line and break it up throughout the trailer. Example is C.K. Volnek's "Ghost Dog of Roanoke Island."

3. Tagline--an ending line that makes a point. An example is from the movie "Apollo 13"--"Houston, we have a problem."

4. Pitch--a trailer similar to how an author might give an elevator pitch of their book to someone. An example is Robin Palmer's "Little Miss Red."

5. Character--the trailer is done from a character's point of view. A great example of this is "The Healing Spell" by Kimberley Griffiths Little.

Two of the easiest ways to produce your book trailer are using iMovie for Mac and MovieMaker for PC, which comes with Windows XP and Windows 7. You can find all kinds of royalty free stock photo, video clips, sound clips, etc. online.

But the most important thing to remember when creating your book trailer is to keep the images moving! Even if you simply have photos, you can pan, zoom, etc. The minute your trailer stops moving, it dies!!

As soon as I get the cover art for my middle grade novel, "Animal Andy," which releases this August by MuseItUp Publishing, I am going to begin working on its book trailer! If you have any other helpful comments about making book trailers, please let us know!

--KSR Writer


  1. All good advice. The 3 acts is a cool way to look at it.

    Don't wait to start your trailer for the cover. You can work that in when it arrives. You should have your other images, music and narrative slides ready to go. If you have one that says "Book Cover Here," it's better than rushing through the process at the last minute. I did that once and it shows.

    1. Good point, Marva! I've actually already started drafting the text portions of my trailer so that I know what images to look for. Thanks!

  2. What a great article.
    Thanks for spending the time to write it.
    Great to see that you provide examples.

  3. Very informative. Thanks for sharing with us. Sounds like it was a worthwhile conference.

  4. Informative post, thanks! As a long time film editor, I just wanted to add, also consider doing teasers, very short (9-20 seconds) little films with a tease about the book. I can provide the links to a couple of mine if you like.

    1. Conda, I would love to see your book teasers, thanks!

    2. Here's one that I did with photos that I took with my cell phone (and that's another tip, provide as many images, actors, music that you can do yourself, then you don't have to worry about copyright issues and also your video will be unique).

  5. Fantastic post! I have made several book trailers for my books and even a few for other authors. It's great fun, a good marketing tool, and gives your readers a visual blurb as well.
    One suggeston: put the trailers on your blog/website as well as places like blazing trailers, dreamscapes etc.
    J.M. Powers