I am a video director and 3D animator and recently I was asked to make my first book trailers. So I thought I'd pass on my experiences of making those.
I have a lot of experience in making TV shows and producing corporate videos. But I'd never made a book trailer. When I was approached by a couple of small publishers, the first thing I did was take a look at what was already out there.
The first thing I noticed was how the majority of book trailers on the net mimicked TV adverts. They are rife with cliches and non-specific, dramatic generalities. That may be okay if you're Stephen King, who has an established audience simply wanting to know that his book is out. But, for anybody else, I think you need to be specific about your book.
These pseudo-TV adverts I believed were going wrong on another point. The net is not TV. If you sell too overtly you can annoy people. So you should look to entertain people in the process of selling them the book. For example, if you're promoting your novel, it might be a good plan to dramatize a scene rather than having a generic voice over saying, “When a man meets a woman.” In this way you can show what the novel is like.
Anyway, when it came to making the book trailers for my clients, I decided to put my views into practice.
The first book to promote was a book of quotations, 'Snappy Sayings'. For this, the client and I devised a series of five mini-sitcoms featuring the same two characters, each one lasting 30 seconds. A quotation from the book inspired each piece. It was a way of taking a feature of the book and building entertainment around it - http://callousproductions.com/home/snappysayings1.html
The other book was 'How To Achieve Anything In Just One Year'. The author wanted to be tongue-in-cheek with this because he felt that self-help books took themselves too seriously. So again we made an entertaining piece which got 42,000 views in the first week - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kb2WwHp7m5w
The other piece of advice about trailers I'd like to pass on will hopefully help you decide whether or not you should actually make one.
Firstly, if you want to make one, make sure it's of a decent quality with high production values. To get a professional to make it isn't that expensive. But if you're thinking of doing it yourself, it's better not to make one than have a badly made trailer that reflects badly on your book.
The other piece of advice is once you have it, use it fully. Instead of just throwing it up on youtube and hoping people will see it, get it out to the thousands of sites looking for content. But don't confine its use to the net. Think laterally. You could even turn it into a DVD and ask your local independent bookshop if you can put it on their counter.
I hope this has helped if you're thinking of making a trailer. If you have any questions do get in touch.
- Hardy Capo