Best Practices for Book Trailers

By Lisa Hazen

steamBook publishing continues to find its way in a world increasingly addicted to screens. In a case of if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em, video trailers have become a crucial part of a book’s marketing strategy. Following are some exceptional book trailers found in different genres, and a look at what makes them stand out. Some of the following trailers were made on a budget, others slickly produced. All provide a look into the book in a changing world of promoting books.

Teasing Fiction
Creating a book trailer for fiction titles present distinct challenges. Often, the complex storyline may not translate directly to a short video. John Lanchester’s Book, Capital, is about a family living in New York, torn asunder by the financial crisis. The book’s trailer depicts a cleverly animated short film—devoid of dialogue, showing a cartoon family interacting in a two-story home. Towards the end is the hook—a menacing sign that says “We want what you have,” teasing a key plot point. Provocative and clever, this site piques the reader’s curiosity in an unexpected way.

Creating a Viral Sensation
Tim Ferris owes much of his renown to being bold and provocative both online and in print. With his trailer for Four-Hour Chef, Ferris not only provides a great sense for the brash content of the book, in this video that shows quick cuts of different topics from the book. He does so in an in-your-face way that begs to be shared. Ferris uses video to pinpoint some of the most compelling parts of the book, which leads the reader wanting more. With more than 1.5 million views on YouTube, he succeeds in creating a book trailer with legs.

Capturing the Author’s Voice
For memoirs or personal narratives often, the best trailer is simply when the author discusses the book in an interview. Julia Sweeney created this intimate author interview for Simon and Schuster to promote her book If It’s Not One Thing, It’s Your Mother. In it, she discusses stories from the book and reinforces the voice that is part of the book’s core appeal. Sure, it helps when your author is a veteran of both stage and screen. But when any author is conveying his or her individual voice, it can bring a whole new dimension to the book.

Show, Don’t Tell
Book trailers can be especially helpful when they bring the different practices or skills they write about to life. The MELT Method is a book about a specific core-oriented fitness routine using certain practices. The trailer for this book demonstrates different moves directly from the author. Not only does the author’s svelte physique speak for itself, but you get a real sense for the nature of instruction that the book offers when you see it in action.

tartineFood Porn
Similarly, cookbooks provide many opportunities for authors to demonstrate technique and bring the ingredients together as a meal. Cookbooks have evolved from functional manuals to lavishly photographed masterpieces demonstrating not only the recipes, but the experience and lifestyle that this food evokes. Look no further than this exquisite book trailer for La Tartine Gourmand. You not only get a sense for the kind of recipes that the book includes. But you are also seduced by a lot of luscious shots of food, the author, and inviting atmosphere.

Just For Kids
Most children are already accustomed to some sort of multimedia experience when it comes to their entertainment. Book trailers are a great way to bridge the gap between book and screen. In this whimsical trailer for Duck/Rabbit, readers of any age become engaged with their characters. And the trailer for Press Here demonstrates the book that leaves a distinct impression.

Tweens and teens—the most sophisticated group of  are a natural audience for book trailers. This promotional video for The S Word promotes the book in a slick, commercial-quality video. It’s flashy, brief, and leaves the reader one click away from buying the book.

With each of these examples, the publisher is able to add another dimension to the books, and promote it across media (and devices) using book trailers.

Lisa Hazen is a Chicago-based Web Designer specializing in author sites. You can find her on Twitter, Facebook, or the WWW. mailto:lisa@lisahazen.com

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