Tips for Making Book Trailers

Please don’t be the person in the meeting who suggests we “make a viral video.”

This is the right way to think of video related to a book publishing project: As a sharable, embeddable asset(s) you can leverage across multiple channels, as well as your entire online platform, that serves as an integral part of your overall campaign.

With that in mind, here are some tips to guide your book trailer project:

Make the video a creative, standalone experience. It shouldn’t just be a formulaic advertisement. Web video is an awesome medium. Don’t get suckered into the same old, same old commercial format.

Do not use stock photos. Just lazy and automatically says boring and unoriginal. Is that the message you want to convey about your book?

Do not use stock video. Even lazier, more boring, and usually looks way off the mark.

Do not put any blurbs in the video. Somehow this became standard. I have no idea why. There is nothing remotely interesting about watching manufactured praise flash across the screen.

Do not put the on sale date at the end. Just dates the video immediately, and you can easily put this type of information in the description area (updating the wording or removing altogether once the book goes on sale). You can always edit the video, of course, but you will lose the Youtube permalink that you’ve been embedding and sharing.

Do not put something like “Available in bookstores and online retailers” or “On sale now” at the end. Just obvious, unnecessary and anti-climactic.

Professionally shot videos with great lighting are nice. But you can do solid creative work with a decent digital camera. There’s a place for both slick AND low-budget videos on the web. Don’t let your lack of money or high-end camera prevent you from including video in your campaign for a book.

Videos with just the author talking are fine, if the author is well-spoken and comfortable in front of a camera. Good for fans, good for people looking for more information about the book, a nice asset to be able to leverage across your digital platform. But don’t expect too many views. And don’t spend a lot of money to make them. Keep them simple. No need for cutaways to the author writing at their desk or walking around their backyard.

Most likely no matter what your video is and how cool you’ve made it, it will NOT go viral. Overall it’s best not to use the word “viral” when talking about videos that involve books or authors. But it’s an asset that you can use in countless places — YouTube, publisher website, Facebook, Tumblr, and more; retailer account blogs, social platform, and product pages; and of course the author’s website, Facebook, Tumblr, etc. Note that most of these places will simply involve embedding the YouTube video. That’s ideal — it’s easy for you to do, and it’s easy for others to do as well.

When you post your video to YouTube, make sure you give it an SEO friendly title. You don’t necessarily want to use the title of the book, but you will likely want to include the author’s name. Definitely do not put “Trailer:” in front of whatever title you decide to use. Additionally, take the time to actually convey — in an interesting, engaging way — the message of the video in the description field (don’t just copy and paste the book’s catalog copy). And lastly, make sure to take advantage of your ability to include multiple, relevant keywords.

Most importantly, you should have more than one video. The web is about churn these days — think about how fast your Twitter feed, Facebook newsfeed and Tumblr dashboard move. You can’t just spend all your time creating ONE video. You need to create multiple videos for use on the web these days, which moves faster today than it did yesterday, and will be moving even faster tomorrow.

For further resources, watch this.