7 Tips for Better Book Trailers

Book trailers are a great marketing tool for publishers to generate interest and build anticipation for a title. Good book trailers can go viral and reach far beyond the book’s target audience, but bad book trailers—ones that are boring, vague, or over-saturated with effects—are quickly dismissed and forgotten. So how do you give yourself the best chance for success with your book trailers? We’ve done the research and have come up with these seven tips for creating and promoting effective book trailers.

1. Create book trailers that appeal to your audience

If you know who’s watching, you can tailor your trailer appropriately. If it’s a book for children, for example, chances are you want something that will draw in parents and librarians (the book-buyers), and still be entertaining for a child watching alongside them.

The great thing about this trailer for Lemony Snicket and Maira Kaldman’s 13 Words is that it appeals to children and adults alike. The clever dialogue keeps parents interested and the illustrations draw children into the book.

2. Tease but don’t mislead

Don’t try to squeeze in a whole summary—your synopsis is already posted on Kobo. Set the tone with music and visuals, show off any illustrations, and immerse the viewer in the setting. As prolific bestselling author Eric Walters says, “If a cover of a book is important think of a trailer as an expanded cover.” It should represent your book well while also acting as promotional vehicle.

This trailer, for Seven (the series), published by Orca, promotes seven books by seven different authors, each with a different tone and plot. The trailer is up to the task, though. It promotes the unique structure of the series, piquing interest in parents, librarians, teachers, etc. and its music and images promise adventure and thrills for young readers.

3. Know your budget

Chances are you don’t have unlimited funds for a cinema-grade trailer. This is a good thing. Simple is better, and simple can be done in plenty of easy to access editing programs—like iMovie, MovieMaker, or Adobe Premiere Pro. Many authors will get involved in book trailers as narrators, or on-screen, which can work really well. With children’s picture books or graphic novels, you already have images to draw from, so make use of those assets to draw viewers in.

Okay, so chances are your author is not also a TV star like BJ Novak and Mindy Kaling. But that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t get involved in the process—take advantage of their creativity and investment in the book to come up with an effective book trailer.

4. Pick your titles

Not every book is going to benefit from a book trailer. If your book’s target audience doesn’t spend much time online, they aren’t likely to see it. Certain genres, like sci-fi and fantasy have significant online communities, as do mysteries and thrillers. YA fiction publishers produce many book trailers because the YA audience is extremely active online and in social media. Book trailers for children’s books are becoming popular as well.

This trailer, for the final book in Tara Hudson’s Hereafter trilogy, takes advantage of the fact that its audience is active online to remind them that the latest book is coming out soon. It’s also a good example of our next tip.

5. Include essential book information

There is nothing more frustrating than watching an interesting book trailer and then wondering “When does this come out? Where do I get it? What was the author’s name again?” Here’s a simple solution: include all of this information—title, author, publisher, release date, retailers—along with the book cover at the end of the trailer. Put a link to the book’s page on your website right in the video description so that viewers can follow their curiosity immediately.

6. Make it accessible

YouTube is currently the most popular place for book trailers. Everyone knows how to use YouTube and users can embed YouTube videos anywhere. So upload your book trailer there, and then work on getting as much traffic as you can—post the link on your website, social media and urge people to check it out encourage book bloggers to recommend it, promote the trailer at events. You can also track how many views the video gets on YouTube to measure its reach. Analytics program like SumAll or Google Analytics can dig even deeper and will help you figure out which channels are working best to drive traffic to your trailer.

7. Use YouTube ads

YouTube ads are a great way to increase the visibility of your trailer. You can use your trailer as the ad for the most direct exposure, or, if you have created a longer trailer, you may want to condense it and use that version as an ad, directing viewers to the full-length video.

You can choose where your ad will pop up—as a featured result in YouTube searches, before videos, or at the top of the related content list beside videos. It’s important to note that if you choose to put it before other YouTube videos it’s best to make it short and snappy so that viewers get the message before they skip to their desired content. YouTube charges for ads on a cost-per-view basis (similar to Google’s cost-per-click model). You are only charged when a user views your ad. So, if you have chosen to have your ad play before other videos, you’ll be charged when the viewer reaches the 30 second point of the video for video ads longer than 30 seconds, and you’ll be charged when the viewer completes the video for videos shorter than 30 seconds. For ads that appear in search results or beside videos you will be charged if a user clicks on the thumbnail to go to the ad. How often and how prominently your ad appears will be determined by how much you are willing to pay when a user views your ad. The relevance of your ad and how many times it has already been viewed also make it more likely that your ad will appear. Click here for more information on YouTube ad prices.

When you set up your ad you can choose your targeted audience—for example, 18 to 45-year-old women in Toronto, Ottawa, and Montreal. The more specific your keywords, locations, and demographics, the more likely it is that your ad will appear. Like Google, YouTube also has an analytics tool that tells you who is watching your ad, whether they’re clicking on it, watching it more than once, etc. Keeping an eye on these stats will help you determine if you need to modify your target audience or cost-per-view.