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The Business Side Of Book Selling: Creating Book Trailers by Karen Smith

Self-publishing has become increasingly more popular over the years, but there’s one rather difficult aspect some authors might not consider when deciding to go the self-published route: self-marketing. Consumers won’t purchase your book if they don’t know it exists, but hiring a team of professional marketers can get pretty pricey.

Using free marketing tools like social media, on the other hand, (and simply using the power of word-of-mouth) can draw some attention, but it might not be enough. One marketing technique that can help your book go viral and increase sales is to create a “book trailer.”

Book trailers, similar to movie trailers, is an artistic representation of your book that can help potential buyers get a better idea of what your book is about. As consumers become more accustomed to instant gratification via purchasing books on iPads and other e-readers, many experts believe book trailers will start to become as vital to the bookselling industry as movie trailers are for the film industry. Not to mention, having a link to your book trailer near the title of your self-published book can also encourage “impulse buying.”

While yes some high quality book trailers take a lot of work and can costs hundreds (even thousands) of dollars to make—check out the stellar book trailers to Sense And Sensibility And Sea Monsters and Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter— you can still make some equally effective and less-involved book trailers that don’t costs nearly as much. You just need to think “simple.” Some successful book trailers only use words and dramatic music to tell a story, like The Night Circus trailer.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t get creative. Some book trailers use stop-motion artwork, like the one made for Shiver. You can have actors but no dialogue, like in this speed-up trailer for Handmade Weddings. Or, you (the author) can even be the leading actor/actress in your own book trailer, like this one for Allergic Girl. The possibilities are endless, but there are a few rules you should abide by.

Think Outside the Box, But Be Clear.

The first thing you need to do is develop a concept. Do so accordingly to coincide with your budget. While creativity is appreciated, make sure that you can actually execute it (i.e. you have the skills). You also want to make sure your idea is easily translated into film and can be understood—you want to give your readers a taste of what the book is going to be about without giving too much or giving too little.

You also need to think about what elements you want to include in your trailer. Will there be acting involved or just still images and music? In either case, you need to make sure of the following:

• Don’t infringe on copyright laws using certain images and music. Original photos and music from talented friends is preferred but not always accessible, so make sure to use public domain music and public domain photos. Or purchase stock images and music. Always give credit where it’s due.

• If you decide to film in a setting, always make sure you ask permission to shoot there if it is not public place and get consent/permission if anyone (a pedestrian) is captured in the background shot for legal issues.

Gather Materials

Before you start filming, you need to make sure you have all the right tools, including video editing software so that you can polish your piece and add transitions and other special effects where appropriate. Most use Windows Movie Maker or iMovie since the editing software is offered for free for PC and Mac users, respectively. Of course you’ll need a digital cam recorder, but an HD camera is not necessary in my opinion. If you do not own one and do not feel like investing, you can try “renting” one. Don’t forget to include microphones if you choose to use actors/external voices and a tripod to keep the camera steady.

Extra Tips: If you want to include text, make sure the font you use in legible. Don’t use pixilated images. Pay attention to lighting. Use white balance.

Make it Short and Sweet

Lastly but certainly not least, you want your movie trailer to be no more than two minutes. It needs to be concise but still manage to give a good representation of your book. Otherwise your audience will get bored, especially if your trailer isn’t very good. Think Super Bowl commercial as opposed to a full blown movie trailer. Air time during the Super Bowl is expensive, so they only have a short time frame to work with to wow TV viewers. Pretend you’re making a commercial.

Has anyone else had any experience making book trailers? Has it helped increase your book sales?


BIO: Karen Smith is a freelance business education writer who mainly writes articles that help alternative learners earn an online business degree. She also frequently covers an array of business-related topics, including marketing. She welcomes your comments below.

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