Do I Need a Book Trailer?

One million new titles will be published in North America this year. How will you make your book stand out? A book trailer is another possible tool in your marketing kit.

Five Reasons You Need A Book Trailer:

  1. Sell your book: Like a movie trailer, a book trailer creates buzz for your book!
  2. Reach more readers: A well-produced book trailer drives traffic to your social media.
  3. Better than an elevator pitch: In one minute, you can get readers excited about your book.
  4. A professional touch: Self-published to large publisher, a book trailer brands you as an author.
  5. Create excitement: A trailer sets the scene for the book, creates tension and pace, and engages the imagination—all the things readers and editors look for.

My book isn’t done yet. Should I wait?

Many people have asked: “My book isn’t finished – is there any point to me starting on a book trailer?” It’s never too early to start your book trailer. The building blocks are the same for an elevator pitch, book proposal, marketing pitch and even the book’s back cover.

There are many reasons to work on your trailer while you are writing your book.

  1. Having to decide what to include in your trailer forces you to focus on what your book is actually about. You may think you know, but can you sum it up in a concise, interesting way?
  2. Writing the script helps you to understand the key components that will appeal to readers. 
  3. Having to visualize your trailer can aid in your settings and physical descriptions.
  4. As the book morphs into a final draft, so, too, can your book trailer, which will be all the better for having gone through changes and improvements.

Remember, your trailer will likely be anywhere from 30 seconds to 1.5 minutes. Making book trailer decisions is a wonderful exercise in honing in on the crux of your novel or non-fiction book. 

Do Trailers Work?

I don’t read horror. Never watched it as a kid and still don’t. Hell, when I was a kid, I had trouble sleeping for a week after seeing Invaders from Mars – the movie where the Martians take over people by inserting a resistor into their necks. In hindsight, the scene was so unreal, it was funny. 

As I do my book trailer work, it is important that I study genres outside of my own interests. I kept running into references for the Miriam Black trailer for the books Blackbirds and Mockingbird by Chuck Wendig. With a simple touch, Miriam knows when and how a person will die. The series is pegged as the Urban Fantasy genre, yet it is compared to Stephen King’s horror. It is definitely not a book I’d pick up, as I would never be in that area of the bookstore.

Once I viewed the character-approach trailer, I was hooked. Chuck created what I call a mini-radio drama. The story is told in first person with the rough gravelly voice of an old man in a bar meeting a girl “with eyes like hot coals and hair that looked like she French kissed a car battery.”

Over the course of two-and-one-half minutes, the viewer hears Miriam make a bet with the old man that she can tell him when and where he will die. The trailer raises several questions, such as if she can tell when he will die, why does she just show up to collect on the bet and not help him? I studied the trailer over and over. I wanted to know more about this person. I ordered my first horror book.

The second trailer to have this effect on me was the Escape from Furnace YA series by Alexander Gordon Smith. Aimed at teen boys, this is a five-book series about Alex, a 15-year-old boy falsely convicted of murder and sent to youth prison for life. The difference is that the prison called Furnace is a mile underground. The trailer’s tag line is “Beneath Heaven is Hell, and beneath Hell is Furnace,” and Alex is faced with an impossible challenge – escape. Fascinated by the ordinary world in the trailer, I ordered and read my second horror book.

So, do book trailers work? Great ones certainly do. The Miriam Black trailer has been viewed over 15,000 times in two years. My wife and I were so impressed with the trailer, we both read the book.

Some book trailers are like preaching to the converted; if a reader is already hooked on an author or genre, he/she will probably buy the new book anyway. An effective book trailer, however, can appeal to readers who aren’t usually in the target market. Again, consider a trailer another tool in your marketing kit.