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Thursday, February 11, 2010

Making Your Own Book Trailer (and what makes a trailer effective?)

I'm not sure how the modern phenomena of book trailers came about but here they are.

Do they work?
I haven't really thought so to be honest, but I was uncertain enough to make one myself for my debut, Crossing Oceans.

First, of course, I watched as many as I could and tried to decide what did and didn't work about them. Most of which I thought did nothing to make me buy a book. There were one or two that I thought were well done, so I tried to dissect what I thought worked about those few.

Here's what I came up with:

*They had a good music score (one that I didn't recognize as one of those freebies you can get off the web that everyone seems to use.)

*They were very short. Like around a minute. I tended to zone out at about the minute mark as I watched longer trailers.

*They raised at least one question that I wanted to know the answer to.

*They promised a good read (often in the form of a tantalizing endorsement).

*They had voice overs, not just words on a screen.

*And lastly, they had animation, not just still pictures, so the trailer ended up looking more like a short movie trailer than what most book trailers were presenting.

So, now I had my basic formula. I set about writing a short script, trying out Windows Movie Maker since it was a free and easy to use program I already had.

Next I asked my super talented husband, Adam to score me a song for it. He came up with something I absolutely love.

Then, I went on I-Stock and downloaded a few still images I thought would work and a few short movie animations. (All in all it added up to under a hundred dollers.)

It took me a few days to put together and my first attempt resulted in the rating of "Cheesy!" from my wonderfully honest and genius critique partners, Ane Mulligan and Jessica Dotta. But, my sixth attempt produced this:


At the time, I didn't yet have any endorsements, thus my filler quote of "This novel doesn't suck." Never did I dream that would stay there forever because my laptop completely died, taking with it that work in progress.

Happily my publisher was working on one of their own:

So, tell me, is my trailer effective? Does it make you want to read the book? If so, why? If not, why? What, in your opinion, makes a trailer work or not. Please share your thoughts for us all.


  1. I do like the mixture of moving images and still images. The trailers that are all still images do seem a bit flat to me. I also think the length is just right. I've been doing research for when I need to throw together my own trailer, and this is helpful. Also, it's inspiring that you were able to do one yourself inexpensively.

  2. Hi, Gina. Congrats on your upcoming release! I do think the trailer is tastefully done. Who did the voiceover? Is it hard to find somebody to do that? Your points about what makes a good book trailer are right on target, I think. I usually zone out after about a minute of watching a book trailer. I still have mixed feelings about book trailers actually helping to sell more books, though.

  3. I've been told my Thin Places trailer is a good one:

    But it was professionally produced with a young actress casted, a professional production company providing hours of expertise.

    I think a bad trailer is actually a detriment. Better to pay for a compelling one than to have a poorly made one.

  4. And, Gina, I love your trailer. Well done.

  5. Is it wrong that it's the "blah, blah, blah this novel doesn't suck" that makes me want to run out and buy ten copies?

    So excited for you girl.

  6. I have to agree that I have no idea whether trailers help sell books or not. However, I definitely agree that shorter is better. A trailer should portray the flavor of the book without attempting to summarize the whole story--as so many seem to do, and then get long-winded and boring. Think of it as an appetizer that makes you hungry for the entree.

  7. Thanks everyone. Mary, I thought you had a wonderful trailer. Cecelia-I did the voice over in the one I did, which isn't as clear as the one the company who did the professional trailer. I don't think it's too hard to find someone to do a voice over. A friend with a good voice and a good microphone ought to be able to help out. I did mine on my podcast equipment. It's good I'm getting some use out of that expensive toy! Jenny--a novel that doesn't suck is always worth the read. :)

  8. I want to read your book now!! I thought the trailer was good, and your ideas on what does and doesn't work were accurate.
    I do think well done trailers are good marketing techniques, if for no other reason than more people will see the book and hear the title.

  9. I think trailers are much more interesting, than written endorsements. As long as they are done with quality.
    Gina, your trailer has quality written all over it, and I loved it. It left me hanging just at the right time. I loved the musical score. Music moves me and creates imagery. I think trailers do sell books. And I can't wait to read Crossing Oceans.

  10. Hi Gina - I really liked the trailer. I think they probably help to sell books if you get them out there in enough places and draw attention to them. Blessings as you continue with this adventure.

  11. Thanks for taking the time, ladies, to watch it and then to comment. :)


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