Skip to main content

5 Ways to Use Book Trailers to Drive Sales

Book trailers are one form of marketing that I've heard very few success
stories about. So I asked Darcy Pattison, author of The Book Trailer Manual, to share tips on how book trailers can be used as part of an effective book marketing and promotion campaign.

If the idea of book trailers is new to you, you might want to take a look at these articles and examples of trailers:


5 Ways to Use Book Trailers to Drive Sales by Darcy Pattison

1. Put up your video on your site and on your own YouTube channel
In April 2010, Anthony Bruno reported that “fans are more engaged with videos posted to individual artists’ Web sites.” Of course, they are talking mostly about music videos, but we can expect similar engagement with book videos. Warner Music Group, for example, drives fans to artists' sites through custom-branded channels on YouTube.

You don't have to customize your channel to the extent that a musician does, but you can create your own YouTube channel for free, and use the default template. Here's mine for the Book Trailer Manual. (And here is Jane's.)

Note: YouTube redesigned its pages in April 2010; be careful about using tutorials for designing a channel page if they are dated before that.

2. Tweet about your book trailer
Bruno further reports, “Another interesting finding is how social media services affect viewing. According to the study, fans linking to online videos via Twitter watch an average of 2:30 minutes, compared to 1:30 minutes on average watched by those finding the same videos via a search engine. Yet 76% of streams on artist or labels sites come as a result of online search, such as Google.” After uploading your book trailer to YouTube and your website, tweet.

3. Use Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Before you start distribution of your book trailer, you should understand the basics of search engine optimization (SEO). There’s no reason to create a website or book trailer or any other content online if that content can’t be found. That means you’ve got to think like a search engine.

For many sites, 50–80% of visitors come from search engines directly to a page deep within the site. Each website page should be optimized so that search engines can find it; likewise, you need to optimize your book trailer so people can find it.

I can’t give you a full understanding of SEO in one post, but you can get some 101 info in this 27-page free report from Copyblogger. But one immediate thing to do is pay attention to the keywords that can be used to find you and your video.

Keywords. On YouTube, there is a difference between tags and keywords. Tags can be used by anyone, while keywords are only used when you want to participate in the Promoted Videos ad program. In practice, though, a tag is a keyword and is crucial to the success of your video because viewers use tags to search.

You need to know what keywords people are searching for, and Google makes it easy with their Google Keyword Tool.

Simply put in a couple of important words about your video, and you’ll get a list of the various ways people search for your information, plus traffic counts for each keyword or phrase. Use the list to choose what keywords you’ll emphasize for your video. On YouTube, you only have about 100 characters for keywords, so choose keywords that are specific to your book.

For example, if you have a WWII history book, specifically about D-Day, you might consider these keywords:

Keyword # of monthly global searches for this keyword

WWII 4,090,000
D-Day 1,500,000
d day wwii 5,400

According to this information, you should use WWII and D-Day as your main keywords (or tags), not the unhyphenated combination.

Using your name as a keyword. If your pen name includes three names, consider omitting the least used name, usually the middle name. You’ll still be found with your first and last names and you can use the valuable space for a more important keyword.

Your publisher's name. Often, authors want to include the publisher’s name. However, if your publisher has 1,000 videos on the hosting service, you must ask yourself this question: Will your video come up in top ten responses for that name? If not, then omit the publisher’s name in favor of topical keywords.

Finally, scan the list of keywords for any potential unwanted traffic. For example, the keywords “little girls” might get hits from those looking for pornography. Try to anticipate the audience searching for the keywords you’ve chosen and make sure they are the right audience for your book.

Edit your book trailer’s page on YouTube and include these keywords as tags.

4. Use book trailers as part of your marketing mix
When Sherrilyn Kenyon’s Dark Hunter World was released in 2008, it was given a huge push by its book trailer which landed among YouTube’s “Most Viewed” videos in late July 2008. How did the publisher accomplish this?

With a release date of August 5 for the paranormal romance, St. Martin’s had a huge investment in a 350,000-copy first printing. They hired professionals to create a 33-second book trailer, then hired Zeitghost Media to manage the campaign.

The house sent an e-mail with a link to the video (on YouTube) to 90,000 people at midnight on July 20, 2008, which was preceded by teasers on July 17 and 18, announcing that something big was coming at midnight on the 20th. Zeitghost Media distributed the video across the Web, and dozens of blogs and Web sites picked it up and continue to feature it. As of this writing, it’s had more than 375,000 views.

On the Dark Hunter website and offline, they also used these marketing tools:

  • e-book giveaways
  • wallpaper, screen savers, cursors, banners
  • Dark Hunter quiz
  • publicity through media channels such as Publishers Weekly
  • Twitter, Facebook fan page, MySpace page
  • Free short story to download

The video was important as a destination for potential readers, but e-mail announcements were used to jump-start the video. Once on the site, there were other ways to find information about the book. There were downloads and giveaways.

Was it the book trailer that made the difference in people choosing to buy the book? Or was it the combination of efforts? No one knows for sure, but it’s likely that the combination matters. For your book trailer, consider how it will integrate with your other marketing efforts.

5. Use a series of book trailers

In May 2010, Jay Yarow and Kamelia Angelova reported that the shelf life of a video is very short. Half the viewers of a YouTube video come in the first six days; 75% of the viewers are within the first 20 days. Of course, there’s going to be a long tail, in which your video gets a few hits/day for a long time. But if you want a high level of sustained interest, you might want to consider a series of videos, distributed one to three weeks apart.


w it's your turn—what success have you had with book trailers? Do you have tips? Share your perspective in the comments.

Image placeholder title

Darcy Pattison is the author of The Book Trailer Manual,
which provides specific how-tos for creating and distributing trailers.
Included are 42 sites to submit to, 14 approaches to content, 10
options for combining images and sound, 8 ideas on creating a book
trailer series, 5 case studies, 3 tips on SEO, and recommendations for
hardware and software. See
recommended book trailers at The Book Trailer Manual YouTube Channel.

Lisa Jewell | Writer's Digest Interview Quote

The WD Interview: Lisa Jewell

The New York Times-bestselling British author discusses creating thrilling plot twists and developing characters in her 19th novel, The Night She Disappeared, in this interview from the Jan/Feb 2022 issue of Writer's Digest.

5 Tips for Successfully Pitching Literary Agents in Person (That Worked for Me at the Writer’s Digest Annual Conference)

5 Tips for Successfully Pitching Literary Agents in Person (That Worked for Me at the Writer’s Digest Annual Conference)

Author Anat Deracine found her agent at Writer’s Digest Annual Conference. Now she’s sharing what she’s learned to help other writers become authors. Here are her 5 tips for successfully pitching literary agents in person.

Tips for Reading Poetry in Front of an Audience

8 Tips for Reading Your Poetry in Front of an Audience

Poet's Market editor and published poet Robert Lee Brewer shares eight tips for reading your poetry in front of an audience.

Plot Twist Story Prompts: Strength Lost

Plot Twist Story Prompts: Strength Lost

Every good story needs a nice (or not so nice) turn or two to keep it interesting. This week, let a character lose their powers.

Sharon Short | Point of View Quote 1

Managing Point of View: Mythbusting

In the first of this three-part series, novelist and WD columnist Sharon Short breaks down 7 of the most common myths about choosing which POV is right for your story.

Channel Your Inner Authorpreneur for Your Writing Labor of Love

Channel Your Inner Authorpreneur for Your Writing Labor of Love

As self-publishing continues to become an attractive and popular options for writers, it’s important to know what you’re getting into and to have the right expectations. Here, author and entrepreneur Tom Vaughan shares how to channel your inner “authorpreneur” to help your book find its readers.

Mark Kurlansky: On Coincidences Driving Memoir

Mark Kurlansky: On Coincidences Driving Memoir

Award-winning author, playwright, and journalist Mark Kurlansky discusses the experience of channeling Ernest Hemingway in his new memoir, The Importance of Not Being Ernest.

In-Between: Writer's Digest 2nd Annual Personal Essay Awards Winner

In-Between: Writer's Digest 2nd Annual Personal Essay Awards Winner

Congratulations to Alyssa Rickert, Grand Prize winner of the 2nd Annual Writer's Digest Personal Essay Awards. Here's her winning essay, "In Between."

Things To Consider When Writing About Ghosts and the Supernatural in Fiction

Things To Consider When Writing About Ghosts and the Supernatural in Fiction

From maintaining subtlety to visiting haunted places, author J. Fremont shares everything to consider when writing about ghosts and the supernatural in fiction.