Book Trailer Tips for Indie Authors:
A Guest Post by Patty Templeton, author of “There Is No Lovely End”
Is there anything worse than suffering through a crappy book trailer?
I mean, yes. Yes, there is. Cancer. The Apache Tracker. When some a-hole at the bar keeps playing “We Built This City” over and over on the digital juke box.
But still. The point of a book trailer is to give the author yet another social platform to connect with readers. You want folks to share your trailer…not eyeroll, snort, and move on.
Here are a few tips when prepping for the birth of a book trailer.
- NETWORK! Online and in-person.
I’m serious. By network, I mean MAKE FRIENDS! Not HAWK THY SELF.
Step 1: Go to writer conventions, local open mics, readings, and other bookish events. Be a part of in-person communities like your library and local bookstores. If no open mics exist in your town…organize one. I hear they’re free when thrown in your living room or the park. Think about what other interests you have that tie to your writing and find those people, too! Are you a horror or dark fantasy author? Check out local horror fan conventions. Are you a romance writer? Find somewhere willing to host a romance movie marathon to meet people.
You’ve created entire worlds in your fiction. Suck it up and create an open mic.
Sub-tip: People are just as lonely, scared, and shy as you. Just say hi.
Step 2: Be a part of online communities. Pinterest! Twitter! Tumblr! Facebook! Blog! All these things…do one or two of them. Hell, do all of them, but use them to build community with folks. To make friends. Not to be all “I HAVE A BOOK! I HAVE A BOOK! BUY MY BOOK!” Because F that S. No one cares. People want friends. They want genuine interaction. They don’t want to be sold to.
What does this have to do with book trailers?
I scored my book trailer company (Rule2 Productions) because of a longtime convention-circuit friend. They are an affordable company who do quality work. I can’t afford much, but we were able to come to an accord. I would’ve never known about Rule2 if I hadn’t first sought bookish friends.
An important realization about your author brand is that “successful marketing is about delighting existing fans”…meaning friends. Delight your friends and they will delight in sharing your work. You have to have friends (online or in-person) to delight them.
- RESEARCH! What works and what is crap?
Would you write about Salvador Dali at the World’s Fair without having at least scanned Wikipedia? Would you write a Mary Todd Lincoln-griffon hybrid/Susan B. Anthony-centaur slash fic without researching what they looked like? Would you write a 1970s Kentucky-werewolf-trucker story without looking up CB slang? No. You wouldn’t. Do your homework. Research good and bad book trailers so you know what you want and what you want to avoid.
Here’s a few folks that are doing it right:
Tom Rob Smith
They are all writers at different points in their careers and with different levels of involvement in their book trailers. Some of these are high budget affairs. Some are low to mid-level. The point: idea build by looking at other book trailers.
- Your book trailer editor will probably not read your book. So…
You need to have certain elements ready for them.
- A short script. We are talking 1 – 1.5 minutes. This is not your book jacket copy. Think of it as an amped elevator pitch. You probably don’t want your entire trailer to be dialogue or voiceover from frontend to back. You can make it longer than 1.5 minutes, but it better be GOOD.
- An excerpt of the book for the book trailer editor.
- A page or less synopsis of your book – because your editor probably won’t have time to read your excerpt.
- Buzzwords about your book that should be reflected in the trailer. Example: I told my book trailer editor that my novel was darkly humorous, whimsical, Tim Burtony, murderous, and Victorian.
- Art. Do you have cover art, character art, clever ad art? Any art you have should go to the editor.
- Music. You don’t necessarily have to come up with this, but if you want a certain song – you have to ask permission to use that song and give credit to the artist in your book trailer’s info. Permissions usually cost money…unless, maybe you MADE FRIENDS WITH A BAND! Soundtracking is something that your book trailer production company should deal with though.
- Blurbs, links, and promotional hubbub that can be used as back matter for the book trailer.
- Go for simple.
Unless you have a Hollywood budget or hella talented friends working for you, you shouldn’t try to do a movie trailer concept for a book trailer. A simple, intriguing trailer is of much better use to you than a hokey, overdone one.
Last thoughts? Don’t give it all away. Ask writers who they’ve used for book trailers. Query the companies of book trailers you’ve enjoyed to see if they have sliding-scale payment options. Don’t try to mash too much into one minute. Decide if you want to be visually striking or verbally striking…can your trailer be both? Think of the mood you want to invoke in your viewer, and go for it.
High fives, and good luck, my friends.
If you want a gander at the book trailer for my first novel, There Is No Lovely End, here it is…
PATTY TEMPLETON is roughly 25 apples tall and 11,000 cups of coffee into her life. She wears red sequins and stomping boots while writing, then hits up back-alley dance bars and honky tonks. Her stories are full of ghosts, freaks, fools, underdogs, blue collar heroes, and never giving up, even when life is giving you shit. She won the first-ever Naked Girls Reading Literary Honors Award and has been a runner-up for the Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley Award. There Is No Lovely End is her first novel.