Tips for making a book trailer from motion graphics designer Yvonne Jones of LoewenHerz-Creative.
Here are Yvonne's level 1 trailer tips.
Note: What Yvonne calls a "text burst" is called a "title" in this course.Rich Helms
With the increased use of multi and social media, book trailers have been an up and coming method to promote and advertise, and have increased in popularity among both authors and readers. Writers increasingly see the value in offering book trailers to their current and potential readers, and are eager to let this medium help them expand their fan base and sales of their books.
But what makes a good book trailer? Generally speaking, a good book trailer is short, sweet, and to the point; very similar to regular TV commercials; something that captures and keeps your attention. An effective trailer is between 45 seconds to 1 minute long. This time is perfect to pique the viewer’s interest and showcase the book’s purpose and content. The right use of graphics and color is essential, as it depicts the overall mood of the book. And appropriately matched music further describes the theme and presentation of the book.
Our primary guiding principles we have created for ourselves and like to adhere to are as follows:
1. Keep the length of the video short; really short: Let’s be honest: when a new video is posted on FaceBook, one of the things we look at when deciding whether or not to watch it is the length of the video. Most of us will keep on scrolling when a video seems to take up too much of our time. But many of us are willing to “invest” 45-60 seconds, and that is plenty of time to hook our potential reader.
Noah Fregger’s trailer for his novel “Gabriel’s Watch,” for example, is only 48 seconds long; yet, the viewer is instantly drawn into the set time and happenings of the novel, leaving the viewer wanting for more.
Gabriel’s Watch - Noah Fregger
2. Keep text bursts short and simple: When we commit ourselves to watching a video, we want to do just that, watch. Most viewers don’t want to read a burst that extends over two lines, let alone a scrolling text. Always go with the shortest possible phrase, dropping unnecessary words. If need be, break it up. This technique has the extra benefit of adding some suspense while not giving away too much information about the book.
The musical novel “Nocturne” by Scheherazade illustrates this beautifully. Let’s look at some of the bursts used:
|GOOD Burst||BETTER Burst|
|A young musician as the teacher||A fiery musician|
|A seductive young woman as the student||A seductive pupil|
We have been able to convey a lot (if not more) of information with fewer words by choosing more suitable and relevant terms. Using the term “pupil,” for example, implies that the musician must be the teacher.
Nocturne by Scheherazade
3. Minimize the number of individual text bursts: When the content of your text bursts is chosen correctly, you shouldn’t need more than nine. More than nine in a 45-60 second trailer simply makes the trailer too wordy and doesn’t allow for time to focus on the imagery. Just include enough to pique the interest and hook the potential reader.
Author Marjorie Doering’s novel “Dear Crossing,” for example, uses a mere eight text bursts in her 67 second trailer.
- A grisly murder
- A determined cop
- The quest for power, money and prestige
- Is pursued with lies as lethal as bullets
- And hearts as cold as steel
- Resolving the case
- Takes a man who knows the drill
- It takes Ray Schiller
These eight bursts let us know what happened, why it happened, and that an experienced cop named Ray Schiller is about to dedicate himself to solving this case. Like a good haiku, an effective trailer employs short bursts with descriptive wording.
Dear Crossing by Marjorie Doering
4. Incorporate imagery you describe in your book: You included and described certain images in your book for a reason. They may be important to a plot, or you may have included them as symbolism. So why not use them within your trailer as well? This can be used either as a direct image, or in a more symbolic manner.
Let’s look at author Michael Phillip Cash’s trailer for his novel “The Flip,” for example. The novel mentions an elaborate ballroom chandelier multiple times, which the author decided to include. It added a nice touch to the mysterious and unnerving ambience of the trailer. And instead of showing a house in flames, the viewer sees a photograph of the house on fire.
The Flip by Michael Phillip Cash
5. Incorporate your very own style: That’s an important one! Yes, that also includes the design and style of your book cover. There’s a reason you chose a certain style or design for your book’s cover: it reflects your taste, your story, and your writing style as an author; so it only makes sense to incorporate your very own flair into your book trailer as well. Use it; it’s unique; it’s you!
Take author Stuart Allen’s trailer for his funky and very trendy debut novel “Parting Lines,” for example. The choice of words and music lets us see the overall tone and mood of the book, and the video graphics and design mirror the author’s chosen style for the cover of his novel.
Parting Lines by Stuart Allen
6. Keep some room for the viewer’s own imagination: You don’t have to spend a fortune to create a great trailer for your book (or have one created for you). You don’t need a camera team or fancy audio software to present the viewer with a complete image. Instead, use your viewer’s imagination. Leave some scenes to the imagination of the reader. Sometimes, suggestions of an image are enough. We don’t have to feed our viewers with a completed thought or picture. Books, unlike movies, require the reader to provide the imagery. A trailer that offers too much detail may detract from the reading experience. It’s a lot more fun this way; for you and for the viewer…
Let’s take a look at RJ Belle’s trailer for “First One Down.” This trailer is packed with images that are meant to have the viewer use his or her own imagination about what happened and what is about to come: a girl on the floor, a ticking clock on the wall, a rolling thunderstorm in the background.
No visible faces, no revealing landmarks, no exposing language – all these omission techniques leave the final image up to your own description within the book and to the viewer’s own imagination.
First One Down by RJ Belle
The founding of LoewenHerz-Creative was inspired out of love for the creative process it brings with it. We love to be original, to use our imagination, and to find new ways to bring across an idea or impression. Every book trailer is different, as it has its very own style – a style created and influenced by the author and by the book itself. So when creating your own book trailer, let your style shine through, because it’s what makes you and your book unique.
Motion Graphics Designer, LoewenHerz-Creative
LoewenHerz-Creative promotes books of all genres with the production and promotion of exciting, innovative, and affordable book trailers. …because your Book Trailer matters.