In the Beginning

The Genesis of Book Trailer 101

In the beginning (several years ago actually), The Writers’ Community of Durham Region (WCDR) asked me to present a workshop on how to create a book trailer. I was stunned that other than covering how to use specific video editors, there was nothing available anywhere about how to write and design a trailer. I found many sites on how to make a book trailer with iMovie or Animoto, but they discussed only the steps in assembling the video, not what goes into writing the trailer script. To me, this was like teaching how to use Microsoft Word, then saying “You have the tool, now go write a novel.”

Thus was born Book Trailer 101. “It’s never been done” is my call to action. The first order of business was to watch and analyze book trailers, and one thing became apparent quickly – most book trailers suck.

I put out the word to writers I knew, as well as writing groups, asking for links to good book trailers. As I mucked through the coal, a few gems emerged. I looked for patterns in aspects such as the approach, and each time I discovered a new technique, I reassessed the trailer collection. I spoke to publishing professionals whose jobs were to oversee the creation of book trailers. As my analysis was published, authors and creators gave me feedback and their opinions.

There are no hard and fast rules in advertising, but there are commonly accepted practices. Comparing the AIDA (Attention, Interest, Desire, Action) advertising principals to effective trailers yielded another dimension in the analysis. I showed my analysis to authors and publishers, and again, their feedback offered me more insight.

The real eye-opener was teaching workshops. In my five-week course, the students walk through the process, creating their book trailers. They learn a lesson in each class, then apply it for their own books as homework. By the fifth class, the students are showing and explaining the logic behind their trailers. The goal is not to have them create their final trailers, but far enough that they can tune and continue to evolve them as needed.

This BookTrailer101.info website is my canvas to document the findings. It has been completely rewritten five times, using all of the newly developed strategies. The deeper I dive into book trailers, the more I enjoy the variety of approaches and techniques authors use to create interesting videos.