It is a given book trailers serve the purpose of promoting either a single of multiple book projects. However, I have yet to view a trailer that actually motivated me to seek out and purchase a book. I’ve created a dozen or more for my own work and while not “shabby”, I’d hardly call them studio quality.

Here is an example from one of my works in progress:

and another for the 2007 released I Remember Tomorrow:

So… the question becomes; what elements (or parts) are needed to create a promotional video that actually catches the viewer’s attention and pushes the viewer to want the promoted product.

To be more specific, with video we have two senses with which to work; visual and auditory. In many book trailers I’ve seen still images (often from royalty free photo websites) with background music (that adds little to the experience) and text overlays that are little more than a synopsis of the story (much like what one expects to see on the inside jacket of the book). On a few occasions I found trailers with voiceovers used instead of, or in addition to, the text overlay. Yet even with the voiceover, the overall affect tends to be bland to boring.

I understand indie authors are normally working with little or no budget when it comes to promotions, however, oft times the videos I’ve viewed were created by supposed professional services to whom authors have paid good, hard earned, money.

So… my first questions would have to be, what makes a good, powerful video and what model should we be looking at when we decide to take the leap.

Sadly, my personal experience with a model based on television advertising, is I’ve never been prompted to buy anything because of an ad. Movie trailers (theatrical, not the aborted things that get condensed into 15 or 30 second commercial spots) tend to have a greater impact on me. But since we authors have no motion picture from which to pull juicy scenes, we’re left in a bit of a lurch for content.

The compromise I’ve tried to reach with my own projects has been to model my trailers after the opening credits of films that have stirred my imagination over the years. To clarify that, I mean the credits rather than the film. Some example would be the first Superman or first Tomb Raider movies. In both, the combination of music, sound, and visual cues combined to stir the imagination and prepare the viewer for what was to come. Each without a single piece of spoken dialogue.

A similar model, to my way of thinking, would be the opening prologue to the theatrical release of the film Dune. It opened with a long, lone musical note on a blank screen which became the zoomed image of the woman who then began a conversational narrative that gave the backstory to what the viewer was about to experience. All the while, subtle music played in the background to lend to the experience and expectation of something awe inspiring to come.

These are my thoughts… I’d be happy to hear from others and see if I’ve missed the mark.

Be well,