How to Make a Book Trailer

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Making a book trailer is no easy feat, but to stay competitive in a highly saturated book market, it needs to be done. Recently, Tara Lynne Groth of Write Naked found my book trailer on Google+ and contacted me about doing a interview. And afterwards, guess what? She bought the book!

Book marketing is a beast of a job and after a year of trying every marketing tactic I could find—many that failed, and some which were fruitful—I learned a few things:

(A WD editor's best piece of writing advice -- period.)

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Jamie-J-Hoang-author-writer

Column by Jamie Jo Hoang, author of the award-winning debut
novel BLUE SUN, YELLOW SKY (April 2015). After graduating from
UCLA with a degree in screenwriting, she worked in entertainment as
an independent producer. In 2011, she moved to Houston, Texas to write
a book. Why Texas? Why not! Her debut novel was named Kirkus Indie
Book of the Month (February 2015 Issue) and a finalist in the International
Beverly Hills Book Awards and the National Indie Excellence Awards. Hoang
currently lives in an apartment in Los Angeles with a décor made up almost
entirely of Post-It Notes. Contact her on Twitter or Facebook

When you don’t have money for advertising, it’s very hard to compete on the Internet for face time with readers, but if you take on a mass approach and understand that you may only reach one person a day, that’s 365 true fans in a year, plus everyone they’ll tell if they think your book is great. Which they will.

In the fast paced world we live in, tweets come and go in the blink of an eye, and most people just scroll through the vast majority of them. But readers are a great bunch, and if you can get your work in front of them, they’ll market it for you. Word-of-mouth is still the best way to promote your books.

So where does the book trailer come in? Well, having a one-minute visual reel to show people makes it easier for your readers to quickly show their friends how awesome your book is.

A quick google search for “The Best Book Trailer” turned up this page.

The site has a lot of great book trailers, but the vast majority of them are national bestseller books, which means someone paid quite a bit of money to create it.

(When will an agent want to be the ONLY one reading your work?)

If you’re like me and don’t have the cash, you’re job is a little harder. You need to think outside the box and come up with a creative way to showcase what you’re book is about using the tools at your disposal. If you have technical friends or creative friends ask them to help you. Just pulling images off of Google searches and adding title cards is a bad idea. First of all, you don’t own the rights to those photos, so it could come back and bite you. Google "Royalty Free Images" and you'll find a host of sites with images you can pull from*. Pond5 is one great resource. Note though, that "royalty free" does not mean they're free, you still need to pay for them, but photos can be as cheap as $5, and as artists ourselves we should pay it forward to other artists.

It's important to know your audience. Think about the kinds of movies they might go to see and look up the movie trailers to get ideas. Successful Kickstarter campaigns are also a good place to research. Look at the Editor's Picks and Fully Funded Projects to see what grabbed people's attention.

Imagine yourself as a customer and think about how much more effective it is to meet the author when considering the purchase of a book! Then buckle down and do a short interview/intro for your book trailer. Don’t make it too long—10-15 seconds top—then move on to what your book is about.

Don’t forget to add purchase links at the end so people know where to buy your amazing book!

My book trailer was based off the trailer for Wild, starring Reese Witherspoon. Since I, of course, didn’t have a budget with which to hire a multi-million dollar actress and fly all around the world, I decided to make it an homage to pop-up books which I loved reading as a kid.

*Note: Google isn't perfect, so make sure the image owners have listed it as public domain before using.

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