BOOK TRAILERS: THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE UGLY

My short story collection, A Sharp Bend in the Road: 17 Intriguing Stories, will be on book shelves January, 2015. Consequently, I am in the planning stages of a marketing campaign. One form of advertisement I used for my mystery/thriller, The Deal Master, was a book trailer. It's a Hollywood-style trailer, filmed in New York City with a cast and crew from around the globe. The trailer is heaped with action—murders, victims, police on the chase. There's even a darkened shot of the illusive Deal Master himself. (Here’s the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9ilXHaugenQ).

I recently spoke to my son, Gerard Bianco Jr., about filming a new trailer for A Sharp Bend in the Road. Gerard's, and his partner Nikki Gold’s company, Rare View Films, produced The Deal Master Book Trailer. We discussed a number of options. The new book contains 17 stories and therefore presents somewhat of a problem to encapsulate all of the stories into one trailer, but we're working on it.

Having already gone through the process, I thought it would be a good idea to help other authors decide on whether or not to create a trailer for their books, and to shed a few helpful hints.

Book trailers take on many forms, and as you might expect, the length and quality of a book trailer is determined by the amount of money you’re willing to put into it.

In today’s market, book trailers can run the gamut of costing as little as $100, and as much as tens of thousands of dollars.

One of the most popular, less expensive book trailers consists of a series of stock photography photos, combined with stock music, and a voice over. An obligatory photo of the book at the beginning and end of the trailer most always accompanies the trailer, along with a location where someone can buy the book. Usually, the voice over speaks the words that are flashed on the screen, either above or below the photos, as if to strengthen the impact of the words. Seems to me if the words were strong enough, one wouldn’t need a voice over. (Hint, hint: Choose one or the other.)

The goal of the book trailer is to give the reader a synopsis of the story, hoping this will lead to a sale. Critics of less-expensive book trailers say that poor quality book trailers have the opposite effect. Inexpensive and/or amateurish trailers cheapen the author's image rather than strengthening it, resulting in a poor image of the book. Poorly-made book trailers, critics say, stroke the vanity of the author while damaging the reputation of the book.

It’s interesting that a number of writers who spend a year, or many years on their novels fall down when it comes to the conceptualizing and writing their book trailer. It may be because they are inexperienced and are unfamiliar with industry standards, or they hadn't thought about creating a book trailer when planning their advertisement campaign, and now that their book is out, they rush a trailer through—something mediocre at best. Bad idea. Why? Simply because most people wouldn't pay to see a movie if they thought the movie trailer was amateurish, or mediocre. Same result with a potential reader. If someone views a book trailer that is awful they probably won't buy the book. It’s as simple as that.

A book trailer is only successful if it sells books. Think of it as your on-the-road salesperson who never sleeps. Wouldn't you want a terrific salesman touting your hard-worked efforts? Of course you would. Therefore why settle for a second or third best book trailer, simply because you want to rush it through, or can't afford anything better? You’d be better off spending your money elsewhere—in another form of advertisement.

So, what’s required to create the movie trailer that’s going to sell your book? Here are a few thoughts:

  • If at all possible, use film action instead of still photography to illustrate your story, the way movie trailers do. Viewers love action, especially action that incorporates conflict and suspense. If you don’t have the experience of shooting live action, or the proper gear, hire someone who does. Can't afford a professional? Many times, film students, eager to practice their craft, will help you out.
  • Stay away from narrative voice over. If you want to use voice in your trailer, it’s far better to have one of your characters speak the voice over, or incorporate dialogue.
  • View as many movie trailers as you can to learn how movie professionals sell their art. How do they begin their trailers? Action? Back story? How do they end them? Leaving the audience wanting more? What information do they include in the middle of the trailer? Back to back action scenes?
  • Spend plenty of time thinking about, constructing, and writing the best possible trailer to sell your book. Create art to sell your art. Take your time. Investigate all possibilities. In the long run, you'll produce a better book trailer, and your potential reader will appreciate your efforts, and hopefully they'll realize this same quality translates into a rewarding reading experience.
 Produce a high quality book trailer. Sell more books.

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