Developing an Internet Presence: Book Trailers
By Marta Stephens
Published: January 19, 2008

This is the third in a set of six articles based on the things I learned during my first year as a published author. The articles will outline a few of the things authors should consider in order to gain an Internet presence. I have a background in public relations and several years experience in project management and promotions in higher education. My experience has been in the area of campaign development, press releases, advertisement, graphic design, and event planning. Marketing my book took me into unknown territory, but being one who loves a challenge and is something of a risk taker, I embraced the opportunity. But even I had to admit that as my debut novel SILENCED CRY was about to be released in April 2007, I was a bit apprehensive. My hope is that in sharing my experiences with you, you’ll find some useful solutions to your marketing questions.

Book Trailers

Book trailers are to authors what music videos were to the rising musical talents in the early 1980s. Why were music videos so successful? They were innovative and engaged the viewer using the power of site and sound. Although we see more and more book trailers being used today, they are still a popular 90 second book promotional tool that has the same power to draw a viewer in and capture their imagination. The question is, if the video is bad, can it hurt the success of the book? There are thousands of samples to view. Take a few minutes to view a selection and make note of what attracts you to each sample and what turns you off.

An effective book trailer will stimulate viewers through pictures, text, color, and music.
Don’t try to fit the book blurb into the trailer. Consider the recent movie trailers you’ve watched. They only hit on the key points of the film, not every detail of the action. Highlight the major plot twists without giving the story away. Another reason to avoid lengthy narratives is that viewers want to watch the trailer, not read long sentences. Use 2-3 key words per frame tops. A 90-second trailer can have anywhere from 18-21 frames depending on the viewing length of each frame or how long each frame will remain on the screen. Decide on key words or phrases that will peak the viewer’s interest. Make every frame count with appropriate, thought-provoking photographs or other images. Choose color(s) that reflect the mood of your book and use it as a theme that ties it all together along with an appropriate piece of music.

Pacing is a crucial component of matching the images and text to the music. Just as the writer uses pace to slow down the action or build suspense, the tempo of the music should be used in the same manner. The right combination can spark an emotional reaction from the viewer which is the goal of any such promotional tool and will hopefully trigger the impulse to buy the book.

Possibly the hardest part of creating a book trailer is timing – make sure every frame fits the music within 90 seconds or less. Be sure you use only copyright/royalty free photographs and music. Here is one site to find free downloadable photographs There are similar sites for music too.

Of course you could pay to have a book trailer created, but Microsoft Word has a feature called Movie Maker that works just fine for those who are interested creating one themselves. Once the trailer is done, save it to the web using one of the servers that supports Movie Maker. Mydeo is one of them and costs less than $3 a month for unlimited viewing. Once completed, the book trailer can be downloaded onto your website and any number of websites sites that allow authors to download videos, such as, Gathers, Myspace, your personal blog(s), Youtube, and Google. Add a link to your signature line on e-mails, etc. It’s another great promotional tool to save on a CD to include with your media kits.

The next article: Spread the Word

Marta Stephens is a crime/mystery author of SILENCED CRY. View the SILENCED CRY book trailer on the home page of