Book trailers have increased significantly in popularity among authors over the past few years. With the increased popularity of YouTube and Vimeo, it’s little wonder that self published authors are particularly paying attention to this option for fiction books.
Anything that promotes your eBook can be a bonus. Marketing plans generally don’t come along with the Lulu self publishing package as you can see from reviews. The same holds for a number of other self publishing platforms, though some like Amazon will help a little bit with the marketing. The fact is that even traditional publishing houses leave the majority of the marketing and advertising on the author’s shoulders. But if you just start making the book trailer without doing your research, you’re going to ruin your eBook and your potential following. While many of these tips focus primarily on fiction, they can help with nonfiction eBooks as well.
Keep It Short
If you browse the book trailers on You Tube and Vimeo, you’ll see a wide variety of running times. Little formal guidance exists for book trailers, but you can take your cue from films. The average movie trailer is approximately 1:00 – 1:30 minute and sometimes reaching to 2:30 when it’s for a more popular film. Yet according to Time Magazine, theater owners are lobbying for shorter preview times. The important thing to remember is that often times a great deal of effort, flashy special effects, gripping music, and other important components go into these movie previews. Book trailers don’t have nearly that budget. Yet many authors love the sound of their own voice. Some book trailers can be as long as five to seven minutes. Don’t be that author.
Book trailers need to be kept short. Their purpose is to tease the readers and make them get excited about what’s coming. In this case, it may be a better idea to take the cue from a theatrical teaser. Teasers typically run between 15 and 30 seconds. Do not go over one minute. You’ll have lost your readers, and you may even have convinced them that your book isn’t worth reading.
Keep the Camera Steady
On Lulu’s self publishing forums, the authors review the worst things they’ve seen in book trailer reviews. Most agreed that a poor quality video typically involved a cameraman who couldn’t keep the camera steady. While Chronicle and the Blair Witch Project may have made their fame and fortune off the found footage genre, your book trailer should not fit into that category. Some people can’t even watch it without getting nauseated or disoriented. Make sure that when you’re filming your trailer that you have a steady hand at the camera and a tripod. It makes an enormous difference.
Don’t Just Hire Your Friends
In additional feedback on writing and self publishing sites like Lulu and Writer’s Weekly, writers review another problem with many book trailers. It’s obvious that the author just hired friends and family to play the roles of the characters or do the voice acting. If your friends and family have talent in drama and voice acting, then that’s great. Otherwise, you’re sending the message that your book is not worth the investment.
Friends and family can be a valuable asset in promoting your book. And you may be able to incorporate them. Writers from these sites like Lulu talk about one of the temptations in self publishing being to rely on them and having an “anything goes” mentality. You must review all of the work that goes into your advertising and your marketing. You must make sure that it looks good in every aspect.
Have a Script
Impromptu speeches and adlibbing have increased in popularity over the past few years as more colleges offer courses and groups for people who love that art. But your eBook trailer is not the place for it. You need to put together a script for your trailer so that everyone stays on track.
The script for your eBook trailer should include either a scene from the story that captures the mood and the tone or a teaser of what readers can expect. Think about what works in a movie trailer. The plot premise is set up, some of the characters introduced, and the excitement revealed. Watch some of your favorite trailers. The actors didn’t just start adlibbing their parts.
Never Just Read
Another one of the pet peeves listed at Critique Circle was that sometimes all a book trailer is is the author sitting on a stool and reading a section of the novel. That’s not a book trailer. The book trailer is intended to make you want more. It needs to build energy and excitement. Offering a partial reading can be another marketing tool, but it needs to be advertised as that. The energy and excitement you build in the trailer will translate into added hype for you book and potentially increase the likelihood that they will actually buy it.
This does not mean that you cannot read part of the book during the book trailer. You can, and you probably should. But it should involve more than just you sitting and reading or turning the pages to reveal the illustrations. You need other visual elements to get the readers interested.
Emote When You Read
Whether you read or you hire a voice actor, make sure that emoting happens. Voice emoting makes all the difference between a boring reading and a moving one. Shakespearean actors learn how to modulate their voice and convey intense emotions and varying moods just with the shift of their tones. You don’t have to have that much skill, but make sure that you use an appropriate tone and change your voice.
At the same time, you should avoid doing different voices. For dialogue, have different people play the roles. It just sounds weird when most people try to mimic voices, and, most of the time, it doesn’t work. Not everyone is Mel Blanc, and that’s all right.
Watch the Video Before Launching
It may seem like a basic point, but a shocking number of people just upload their videos to YouTube and Vimeo without checking them out. Don’t do that. Watch it at least three times before you upload it. Each time that you watch it, you should be analyzing it to see whether it works for your marketing goals. As a self publishing author, the marketing is on your shoulders. A book trailer can be effective for promoting your eBook, so make sure that the trailer matches the quality of your book. Don’t promise what you can’t deliver, but build up the excitement and make the readers hungry for more.
Don’t Give Away the Plot
Again, it might seem basic, but a number of book trailers on YouTube and Vimeo actually give away their entire plots. For many readers, this destroys the journey. You want to leave some mystery and excitement with your readers. So give them a few key details, and then close the trailer. Don’t tell them who the killer is, and don’t reveal the secret relationships that aren’t to be revealed until the last chapters. It will almost always sound much lamer on the screen than it will when it’s revealed in the course of the book.
Finally, make sure that you have a good and reliable platform to publish your book. A site called ebookselfpublishingsecrets.net has rated the platforms for your convenience, read them here: http://ebookselfpublishingsecrets.net/review/lulu/. You can read lulu.com self publishing review and can compare it with other platforms to make a sound choice. As this is your first book, you should do everything you can to promote it.