On Book Trailers

Since I have begun my inquiry into making a book trailer for BLIND SPOT, I thought I’d talk about them a bit. First of all, if you are like my husband, you may not even be aware that there is such a thing — don’t be embarrassed. It’s something relatively new to the book promotional industry. I started seeing them pop up more and more around 2009, but authors and publishers were probably using them long before that.

A book trailer is like a movie trailer. It introduces the plot and some characters in an interesting, intriguing way. Book trailers are then run on an author’s site and/or YouTube channel, the publisher’s site, on review forums like Goodreads, on entertainment industry sites as ads — I’ve even seen them run in hotel elevators during large book events. For a visual world, the book trailer is a great way to quickly incite the interest of a teen reader.

Trailers usually run no more than two minutes. Anything longer is just too much. A trailer is meant to tease the viewer, not give them the entire beginning, middle, and end!  Most trailers use stock photos, text, and background music put together in a slideshow format. This approach suits books well because it views much like a book would play-out in a reader’s mind. It is also a realtively simple and inexpensive approach, and can be easily put together by the author himself using a program like Windows Movie Maker.

Another approach is to shoot some live action video and mix it with the stock photography and use an actor to do a voiceover instead of using text. Another more expensive but increasingly popular approach, however, is actually creating the trailer as a live action video using real people to play the characters. The first trailer I saw like this was Jeff Sampson’s trailer for Vesper.

This blew me away. I loved the idea, the concept.  But then I thought about how, as a reader, I like to imagine the characters myself. I wondered if a live action trailer would somehow taint that for readers by supplying the visual image for them?

I still don’t know the answer to that question, and it has been one that I have struggled with as I have begun to plan my own trailer. What do you think? As a reader, do you mind having pre-conceived images of a character before you begin reading? Have you ever watched a movie before you read the book and been able to think of the characters as people other than the actors who played them in the movie? Or does it even make a difference to you? I’d love the input!

While you ponder that, let me share some truly awesome trailers for upcoming books:





No Responses to “On Book Trailers”

  1. Heather Anastasiu

    Thanks for featuring Glitch’s trailer!! I agree, there have been some amazing trailers recently. They seem to get better each year. I had the same qualms about showing character’s faces, so for the most part, I just got video that only showed super close-ups or partial faces so you never really get to see anyone’s whole face. Or I tried some symbolic images, but it’s always a fine line. Good luck with yours!!

  2. Nikki

    My favorite book trailer was the one for Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs. It was very intriguing and was what made me want to buy the book.

    Whenever I read a book in which there is a movie, I find that I can still create my own visuals for the characters. I think it’s because when I read it becomes something much more personal than just watching a movie and so I enjoy creating my own depictions of the characters.

    My thought is that a book trailer could possibly interfere with a readers ability to envision the characters for themselves, but for most it will provide a starting point in which to base their image of a character.

    Good luck with the book trailer. I am so, so excited for the release of your book!


    • Laura

      I haven’t seen that one, Nikki, but I have heard it is an awesome one! Thanks for commenting — and yeah, I can’t wait for it too 🙂

  3. Laura

    You’re welsome Heather! Yes, yours is more like how I think I’ll do mine too because of the whole not-wanting-to-have-definite-faces thing 🙂

  4. Petra

    More and more book trailers look more like movie trailers. Which is always interesting, but I disregard the faces from the book’s trailer when reading the book because like the faces on covers, they don’t always fit the description of the character in the book.

    Trailers like Glitch and Shatter Me (http://youtu.be/UHApCwLkVU0) where the imagery stays with me are my favourite kind. Anytime I see anything similar, like a computer circuit board or a strikethrough word/sentence, I think about the books.

    I really like Sarah Ockler’s Bittersweet trailer with its cupcakes that appear in the book. Voice-overs aren’t always for me because I might make a connection to an unsympathetic character on TV/movie or someone in real life: http://youtu.be/CppKq1-j2jc

    Dan Wells’ Partial trailer is something different. It wouldn’t work for all books, but it does this time. It’s an investor video from ParaGen, the biotech company that’s plays a big role in the story: http://youtu.be/XZejPM3Vm7A

    Good luck with your trailer!

    • Laura

      Petra I love the Partial trailer – what a great way to introduce the plot! I agree, using the crossed out text in the trailer for Shatter helps keep the book feel to it. Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting!


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