Thursday, June 16, 2011

Why are book trailers turning into Edward inflicted movies?

A book video doesn't just entice your readers, it can also turn them off.

Just how do you make a book video? Heaps of authors and the like have blog posts about this all over the web, and they all seem to say something similar to this:

1. Find the right images
2. Find a soundtrack.
3. Scream at your movie program for a few hours!
4. Keep it short and engaging.
5. Where applicable, give flash reviews.
6. You're an author, use correct grammar. Present tense is better (just like in a blurb).

It's an extensive, self explanatory list, but following those rules doesn't mean you'll have a good book video at the end of it.

When done right, book videos rock! They bring a whole way for the reader to get excited about up and coming releases. I've seen some pretty impressive author made trailers, some average ones, and some that are cringe worthy to the point where I expect it must have hurt their book sales. I know not all authors have the know how, but it only takes two seconds to ask someone who does! And let's not forget, there are various book video companies whose charges vary; I'm sure getting someone to make the trailer for you is quite affordable nowadays.

To those who are making their own videos, like me, here's some notes I've made along my journey toward getting my book videos produced.

1. Various, uneven sized images look messy and unprofessional, and unintended black space looks icky; crop and/or resize those pictures!

2. Lyrical songs are distracting and take away from the message of the book unless the characters a singer or it's highly relatable to the blurb. Also, edit the soundtrack so it fits into your video, even if it's a simple case of fade in and out.

3.Don't make them too long, definitely no longer than two minutes and even that's pushing it.

4. Don't pique the readers interest and then leave out important information. Uh-oh, big mistake! And no, the links in the youtube information section isn't enough; the videos get embeded, so that expandable information section isn't always available.

5. Using free online programs to make your booktrailer is fine, but may I suggest less sparkles please... Sparkles should be reserved for stories about magical sparkles or something like that! Edward inflicted movies are not a way to grab the readers attention.

Don't get me wrong. I'm no expert. I'm not the wicked awesome COS Productions who make magic with their trailers, or anywhere near that league of book video greatness. I'm just an author who's struggled with iMovies and Windows Movie Maker to make her own book videos on her somewhat limited budget of big fat 0.

This post is about letting you know what I, as a reader, dislike about book trailers to help get better author made book trailers out there. We have so much marketing that we have to do these days, and sometimes it's hard to find the time for it all. But book videos are not to be rushed through, they are a representation of our work. And I'm even holding up my own videos for criticism and study, so there!

Here are my book trailers, all meant to promote the same book, which should make a nice comparison for the length issue. Think about the length and pace of each video while you're watching, to see which time frame was suitable to keep you engaged right the way through.

In order in which they are made (you can see the addition of effects I got used to the process, and how much of a difference that made). As an experiment, why not take a look and comment which one you preferred and why. I know I'd like that insight, and perhaps we'll all learn something from it. So, which book trailer made you want to hit it up in google or your bookstore? That's if either of them did! LOL Of course, that is probably only applicable to readers who enjoy paranormal romance n mysteries. But you never know!

Book Video #1
My first attempt -- I used Windows Movie Maker (paint shop pro for the effects of eyes). This was meant as a teaser, to make the viewer curious about the book without giving too much away pre-release. FYI: Hot point for people leaving this video is at 59 secs in, after author website is given.

Book Video #2
Second attempt -- I used iMovies and had not quite figured out how to use all the features of the program! Using a shortened down blurb to the book, this is the longest video of all three and gives all relevant information on how to find out more. FYI: Hotspot for leaving this video is at 1.46, after publisher's website is given, and at the 1min mark.

Book Video #3
My most recent attempt -- I used iMovies. Short and to the point; not much chance of a reader turning off half way's only 25 secs long. It includes everything a book video should; setting, a hook, reviews and how/where to buy. FYI, new up so not enough feedback from youtube to give hotspots.

And the main point that I've taken from this learning curve? Book videos need to be under one minute!

So, now I throw this out to you -- things you like or dislike in book videos. Let's learn something from each other.


  1. That was fun. I really liked the second video the best.

    The music, everything, except the font used. I liked the script font from the third video best. The second one didn't seem too long to me at all. The music was quite good for it and it kept my attention.

    You also gave some good tips. I'd like to work with making some book trailers for Rob's books as he puts them out and you've given me some good tips. I'll have to check out some of the online movie makings and give my Windows Movie Maker another shot. It did a decent job when I made up our wedding video. Thanks JoAnne.


  2. Great advice Joanne. Another point I'd add is that the trailer text should be a condensed version of the blurb, not verbatim. Hit the hook and main points, as you said so well! Great videos.

  3. Angel, I totally agree, I wasn't happy with the text for the second video, but at the time of making it, I hadn't found the extra themes I apparently had hiding in iMovies LOL Thanks for the feedback! Good to know my videos aren't sending folks to sleep xx

    Cate, totally! Thanks for coming over for a read, and commenting xx

    It's good to clarify things with other authors -- otherwise it's guess work :) So thanks, ladies xx YOU ROCK!

  4. Excellent points! For an author learning to do it yourself, you put out some very good videos! I agree that many trailers are too long. I like mine at around 1 1/2 minutes, and I think I have one that's 2 minutes, but I know that's pushing it.
    I'm very lucky in that my b/f has a film degree and loves making the videos-he started to offer them to other romance authors but has put that on the back burner for the moment to work on iPhone apps-but he'll still make them for me, thank goodness. :) My one experience with Windows Movie Maker was not great-lol!
    Working with him has given me all sorts of ideas about what works and what doesn't, especially watching things from the production end, and looking at dozens and dozens of book trailers-a real learning experience!
    My pet peeve is people who give an entire detailed book blurb in their video, rather than writing a more concise, action-based script. Takes more thought, but well worth the time.
    Eden/Eve :)