How to Use Video Book Trailers to Stand Out as an Author


1106 Design

October 19, 2015

Editor’s Note: We are pleased to have Jerome McLain as our guest blogger this month. In this post, which is done in an entertaining “interview” format, Jerome talks about why video book trailers are an author’s best friend when it comes to book marketing, and how he approaches the making of a book trailer. See our Book Trailers page for samples of book trailers by 1106 Design, plus pricing options.

1) Visual is a strong attraction for most people as has been demonstrated on Facebook and other social media. Have you seen video work for books as well?

Yes. Larger publishing companies have entire departments devoted to video and book trailer creation because they realize video drives engagement on the web more than any other content. If combined with a video marketing strategy, book trailers are a fantastic book marketing tool.

2) Can a video take a book from obscure to a sales success?

No. A book’s sales success depends on many moving parts such as launch strategy, content and timing in the marketplace. What a video CAN do is get the book noticed among its competitors. According to, eighty percent of consumers are more likely to make a purchase after seeing a promo video. Placing the book trailer on a webpage that contains book purchase links is highly recommended because the trailer can prompt an impulse buy response.

3) How do you cram an entire book into a thirty second, one minute, or ninety-minute segment? What is the art to a great short video trailer?

I always begin by asking myself: What is the story? What essential book information does the trailer need to convey? Instead of trying to include tons of details, I create visual cues that go along with the basic “who, when, where and what” of the story. An effective trailer needs a great beginning (to hold viewer attention) and a great ending (to make them remember the book or take action). The real art of the trailer is knowing what to leave out to keep the message as concise and compelling as possible.

4) Are some genres more conducive or appropriate for book trailers?

I believe all book genres can benefit from a trailer. It just needs to be appropriate for the tone of the book. For example, trailers don’t always need to be fast-paced and dramatic. They can take a subdued approach and be just as powerful. A popular trailer style used currently is to edit together interview clips of the author discussing the book. So, it’s really a matter of creating a trailer in the style that best compliments the book.

5) Do book trailers cost a lot to do well, or are they like most things: you get what you pay for?

You definitely get what you pay for. Creating a really good book trailer requires time, creativity and technical expertise. Throwing together a PowerPoint slideshow with some dramatic music does not entice many people to buy. It comes off cheap. You don’t need to spend a fortune but you do need to invest enough to look professional. Pricing can range between $500 for a very nice :30 teaser video to $10,000+ which includes live actors, location filming, etc.

6) What makes for a bad trailer?

All bad trailers have these elements in common:

  • no clear or interesting story arc
  • too many book details (if you tell them everything, why read the book?)
  • poorly chosen music (audio is fifty percent of the video!)
  • copyrighted music and or images (this error can prove costly!)
  • unprofessionally edited (images stay up longer than necessary, bad transitions, etc.)
  • too long in length (:30 to :60 is a good rule of thumb)

7) Can authors create trailers themselves with little experience?

They definitely can create a trailer without experience but it will most likely be perceived as amateurish. Online video editing software or DIY video apps allow you to easily create video. But no software or online app can replace the knowledge, skill and talent required to produce a professional book trailer. It’s like an author creating their own book cover: If they are not also experienced in graphic design and typography, it probably won’t turn out well.

8) When should an author decide to do a trailer for his or her upcoming book?

When the marketing plan for the book is being developed is a great time to consider how to use a promo video/book trailer to amplify exposure and publicity. The trailer can be used to create buzz and awareness on social media platforms as well as a visual “elevator pitch” for the book to the media. Also, sending a professional book trailer out to prospective reviewers creates a great first impression of the book.

9) What’s the one brief word of advice you have for authors who are on the fence about investing in a short video for their projects?

You’ve spent a considerable amount of time writing. You’ve invested in professional editing and book cover design. Don’t let the first impression of your book be determined by an amateurish video.


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