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5 Tips for making a Book trailer that works

I love a good movie, don’t you? We live in a visual world so if you have a new book to promote, why not consider a book trailer? With millions of books published each year, authors must get creative if you want your book to get noticed. Book trailers typically cost between $1500 and $4000 depending on how complicated they are and who makes them.  If done right, a book trailer can really captivate your audience and give them a snippet of your book in a fresh, engaging way. It can also sell books.  

Book trailers can be used in a number of ways:

  • Sharing on social media
  • Sharing with TV and Radio producers as a showcase for your media skills and comfort on screen
  • Enhancing your profile on your book site and personal channels

Here are my 5 tips to a Great Book Trailer with a few great examples thrown in for inspiration.


A Compelling Story

A good trailer always starts with a good story. Just like a book (or a Hollywood movie trailer), your book trailer needs to have a beginning, a middle and an end. Script it out. Storyboard it. Make sure it flows well. And nobody likes a talking head so don’t just sit in front of your iPhone and start rambling on and on about your book. Get creative but be strategic. 


Keep it Short

I read somewhere that with the advent of social media, the public’s average attention span on social media is now 8 seconds. Isn’t that nuts?! So, a good book trailer should be short. Ideally between 90 seconds and 3.5 minutes, tops. In addition, make sure you work with a videographer and editor who can extrapolate shorter content for use on social media. Having at least two or three 15-30-second videos in your toolkit is a huge benefit to any campaign. 


Great Editing

I truly believe the magic is in the editing. It is the key to blending images and sounds to make us feel emotionally connected and engaged.    Be sure to ask your video production company about editing and make sure they know what they’re doing.


Good Audio

I remember asking a producer at the Today Show what her biggest pet peeves were when a publicist pitched an author to be on the show and she said, “video with bad audio.”  I’ll never forget that. And I agree. If the sound is bad, I immediately get turned off and press stop. As a publicist, it’s important to me that producers (and the world at large) hears you and your message without cringing or struggling to hear over barking dogs and background noise. So, make sure that is important to your videographer too and you wear a mic.

A Call to Action

Always end your video with a call-to-action. I recommend a static image (up for approx. 4 seconds) at the end (called an “extro”) of your video that features the following info: 

  • Available on Amazon, Indiebound and at fine booksellers near you.
  • Pub Date: (your book’s release date)
  • #YourBookTitle
  • @YourInstagram
  • @YourFB

Many of our clients have produced really wonderful, engaging trailers over the years. Some of my favorites include:

Watch: LAIR: Radical Homes and Hideouts of Movie VillainsBook

by Chad Oppenheim with Andrea Gollin (Tra Publishing). Produced by Carlos Fueyo of Playard Studios, this sexy mini movie really brings this book to life. Yes, it’s a really high-end production and a more expensive book trailer for sure, but it garnered the book and author a lot of attention in some major media outlets. The trailer was also featured at the beginning of every event on his multi-city book tour. We’d dim the lights and blast the sound and wow! It was a real attention-grabber. Carlos nailed it with this one.

Watch: The Flower Workshop

Here is a beautiful short video for Ariella Chezar’s floral design book The Flower Workshop, which has become a classic in its category. My dear friend and collaborator of many years, Leslie Jonath of Connected Dots Media produced this gorgeous video (that received over 40,000 views!). As Leslie said, “…it tells a story in a beautiful, meaningful way that brings people together”, and I love it so much. Sometimes I just watch it as a gentle meditation. After all, who doesn’t love beautiful flowers?

Watch: Season

This Season cookbook trailer is a perfect example of exquisite photography and brilliant editing, set to a beautiful score. We loved working with the Jackson Family Wine Culinary team to launch their cookbook of the same name. Whenever we shared this video with the press, they would comment on how absolutely gorgeous this trailer was. The book went on to win a number of prestigious awards. Produced by Big Match Media. The book was published by Cameron + Co., one of our favorite boutique publishing clients.

Watch: In Search of The Wild Tofurky

For his book, Founder and Chairman of The Tofurky Company wanted to tell the origin story of the worldwide brand and some of his triumphs and a few of the mistakes he made along the way. A business book usually isn’t a great source of images and visual inspiration, but this trailer nailed it.   It’s a perfect example of good storytelling, layering voice over still images and all of the on-location, live footage gives it a great sense of place. I love this one and it feels SO much like the author himself. No B.S. and nuthin’ fancy.  It was produced by Manny Marquez of About Face Media, who was a delight to work with.

Thug Kitchen

And just for a little laugh, here’s the trailer for a best-selling vegan cookbook, Thug Kitchen. Just because it cracks me up every time I watch it. You’re welcome.

One last thought: I highly recommend you work with a professional to ensure a quality product. But if you are on a tight budget, here are some great tips for a DIY version from The Reading Agency.

About the Author

Andrea Burnett is the founder of Andrea Burnett PR and a 20+ years veteran of the book  publishing industry.


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