Booktrailers – Be Careful


A book trailer can be a valuable tool in promoting a literary work, but it must be used carefully. Moreover, a cinematic book trailer, where the trailer mirrors many of the elements used in movie trailers, including utilizing actors, locations, dramatic pacing with editing and music, etc., must be used even more carefully, as the objective is to garner interest in the work, not detach potential readers from interest in the material.

 For example, in The Silent Partner’s cinematic book trailer, I utilized actors and dialogue from the actual novel, but I was careful to illustrate conflict within the visual promotional “tease” of the book, while not telling much of the story. In fact, many people gave me similar feedback: “It looks very interesting, but I don’t know exactly what the book’s about.” This was the exact reaction I had hoped for. (The Silent Partner‘s book trailer is available on YouTube HERE.)

You know when you go to the movie theatre and see a three-minute trailer, only to be turned off from seeing the actual film and muttering to your friend, “Ahhh, I’ll skip that one”? I used my own real-life experience to avoid doing this exact thing, so the viewer doesn’t believe they’ve seen the best that the source material has to offer. The objective is to leave them wanting more.

Most book trailers are not dynamic and, in my experience, fail to bring about a feeling of any kind by the viewer. Why bore people to death? They can love the humor, dislike a character, or be frustrated by something happening to a character, but they have to care. Protect your visual promotion of your storytelling by ensuring that the viewer is more interested in your story after seeing the trailer, not less.

A book trailer may or may not significantly add to your book sales. My utilization of the trailer did help me get a couple specific interviews, including one with a FOX TV affiliate in San Diego, but it’s hard to tell exactly how many books have been sold due to the trailer. Rather, the trailer provided additional interest in the overall process of self publishing, and that in itself has in some cases been more interesting to some than the content of the source material. The trailer helped build the profile of the book and build my Twitter following, as well as gain interest from some in the novel. Truly, though, it’s hard to tell of specific ROI impact.

A simple checklist for producing your very own book trailer:

  1. Like with your book, draft out key points to showcase your story. Think of elements you can tell or enhance with visuals, and stay away from spoilers. Have a plan.
  2. Put together a crew. You can’t do it yourself. Get different people with skill sets in different areas, and find ways to compensate them. If not with money, use food, furniture you would have gotten rid of anyway, etc.
  3. It will take more work than you’re prepared for, so don’t set any promotional dates until after it’s completely done. Completely.
  4. Be nimble and prepared for actors or crew members to drop the ball. It’s your responsibility to pick up the pieces, so when something goes wrong, look at the situation as an opportunity to improve your work. There’s no reason to accept defeat.
  5. Try to be less than 3 minutes in length. It can be hard, especially for a 300-plus page novel. It was difficult for me.
  6. If someone is more talented than you in some way in putting the trailer together, hear their voice and utilize their talent, but don’t compromise your overall theme or feel of the original work.
  7. Use the ecosystem you’ve built with your blog, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc., to publish access to your promotion.

Good luck in bringing your writing to life!


Shooting THE SILENT PARTNER’s Book Trailer

I’ve come across so many people who are interested–sometimes faintly–in hearing about the book trailer for The Silent Partner. So great, the things I hear: “What’s a book trailer?” “Is it a movie?” “So . . . anyway . . . I’m thinking about getting some veneers.”
At this point we’re about 65% through production, with the most elaborate and fun sequences ahead of us. We have a few more pivotal sequences to shoot and then the work in editing starts. Music is currently being arranged. Our Facebook page is alive and well (see the link in the menu on the left for The Silent Partner), and agents are receiving–and hopefully reading–manuscript submissions.
Through this process of, well, everything, there is no question of whether or not the project is done. In fact, the book isn’t a book until it’s published, correct? A manuscript–even a polished one–is just that. The roadmap to hopeful publishing. Except, I can’t be . . . won’t be . . . merely hopeful. This has to happen. The work’s got to be sharp, crisp, and ready for consumption. The best news: it won’t be consumption for one, being that my editor and I have both read it.
On our way.

Casting for the Book Trailer

The last two evenings, actors met with me and the crew. We sat across from them at the table, as many as six of us “judges” providing them the opportunity to audition for specific roles. It was a lot like American Idol, without the wailing or public exploitation of both good and lesser performances. Or J. Lo. We were put back, impressed, humored, deflated, inflated, and surprised. (No one was rude, which was refreshing considering how often I deal with it during the day.) The actors ranged from prepared to non-chalant, all were gracious, and we think we have some gems out of the dozens of performances.

Something that grabbed me throughout the trials–interesting I would describe them as trials–was that a substantial number of these people were inspired by the new story world that I created. As colorful and complex as the characters are in the novel, the actors brought a new dimension to them. Of course, I expected this. But I had not seen actors act out lines I had created for a while. (As anyone who has attempted–let alone succeeded–writing a novel knows, it’s a much more grueling process than writing a screenplay. It’s taken a few years to complete it.) Seeing the words, inflections, and nuances come to life was surreal. The actors that took it the most seriously–the ones that memorized lines sent to them prior to their audition–impressed me with their dedication to representing themselves to the best of their ability.

The things we heard: “I’m perfect for this role.” “I’m so nervous.” “Can I do it again?” “Can I stand?” “Can I sit?” “Oh, you’re the writer.” “I think this script is amazing.” (Right.) “How much does this pay?” “Can you tell me more about the motivations of the character?” “Do you want me to do it differently?” “I practiced in the kitchen all day with my roommate.”

A few of the actors, seasoned and aspiring ones alike, gave me chills when I saw them supercharge their performances. Enjoy the process. And no small process it is. In the end, as I picture the immense undertaking the crew faces, the auditions made me step back and realize, This is coming together.