Five years ago it was unheard of to use a book trailer to attract readers. Today, it seems like new books are required to have one just to keep up with the market. To me, using a video to sell the written word feels wrong. The whole appeal of reading a book is to create it’s reality in the mind’s eye. Seeing someone else’s interpretation of a book, even in a short video, robs the reader of the full experience.
Regardless of how I feel, book trailers are here to stay. I’ve seen them online, as commercials on TV, even at the local movie theater. I’ve seen them done with live actors, slide shows, cartoons, and even in legos. There are book trailers out there so enticing and vibrant that I can’t wait to find out more.
And then there’s the rest.
Sadly, most trailers tend to give me reasons to avoid reading the book. Usually it has nothing to do with the content either, it’s a general feeling of being coerced or manipulated. I don’t respond well to having people tell me what to feel, think, or do. Anytime an advertisement crosses that line it stirs up a negative reaction.
If you are in the market to make a book trailer, here’s a handy list of things to consider:
The 5 Shalts
- Thou shalt always include the title, release date, and names of retailers.
- Thou shalt use the best equipment possible for clear video and good sound.
- Thou shalt use a tripod.
- Thou shalt have the concept and script reviewed by at least four intelligent people.
- Thou shalt find a way to emotionally connect to the viewer, without manipulating.
The 5 Shalt Nots
- Thou shalt not exceed a minute and a half.
- Thou shalt not roll credits.
- Thou shalt not use live actors if there are other options available.
- Thou shalt not be vague.
- Thou shalt not use corny or distracting music.
This list isn’t a magic ticket to book trailer success. Just like a query letter, a book trailer must make the viewer want to know more based on the merits of the story. And just like a commercial on TV it must do so in an interesting and compelling way.
Have you seen a book trailer recently? If so, what did you think?