I don’t think book trailers are a huge way to promote your books to potential readers. I mean, they can, but I’ve found they are more popular with people who are already fans of my books. So I consider them to be for my fans.
As a quick off-topic moment:
In a writing group I’m a part of, there was recently a discussion along the lines of promotion, and someone mentioned Goodreads. I haven’t done a Goodreads giveaway, but I’ve heard this helps get reviews and can be a great promotional tool because people who sign up to win a copy of your book also has the opportunity to check your book out (so even if they don’t win the copy, they might want to read it).
Another possible marketing strategy for reaching new readers could be being featured on book reviewer blog sites. I know, this one is tricky. I’ve been turned down by every book reviewer I contacted (except for one back in 2008 who knew another book reviewer who happened to like my book–so I had an “in” on that one). But yep, ever since then, it’s been “We’re sorry but the answer is no.” So I understand how hard it can be to get on these blogs. I have been featured on blogs, but it’s been pure luck, and sometimes the reviewer hates my book. But I still consider a negative review a win as long as the reviewer is objective. They will at least state why they hated the book, and who knows if what that person hates, another person will like?
Another thing that works great for a friend is a blog hop. She does a lot of these, and her sales seems to have benefited from this. But the key to the blog hop where you’re doing a giveaway with other authors is to make sure all the authors in the blog hop are targeting the same audience. This is another great way to reach new readers.
I mention the three above methods because I was reading through a discussion in my writer’s group and wondered what are some methods to reach new readers? Of course, I still think free has been the biggest benefit (at least for me).
Now that I got that out of my system, let me get to book trailers.
Back to topic:
I use Animoto (thanks to Bill Quain for pointing me in their direction) because it eliminates the time I had to go through with Windows to make one. My husband likes to work with Apple’s iMovie program, but I still prefer Animoto because they do the bulk of the work for you. Since I don’t see any huge benefit to making book trailers, I try to minimize the time and effort in making them.
I buy royalty-free stock photos off of http://www.dreamstime.com (my favorite place to get pictures, but there are other sites out there to choose from). I log into Animoto and click on create a new video. I do pay for a subscription because I don’t want “Animoto” to show up at the end of the video, but you don’t have to pay for it. You get more perks if you pay for it, but it’s not necessary. Then I upload those pictures to the site, type in the words I want to use for the trailer, and select the music I want. I organize the text and pictures in the order I want them and hit publish. It’s pretty much a program that does it all for you and is easy to use (which is what I like).
There are other ways you can make trailers. Whichever one you use is up to you. :D
So what kind of trailers can you do?
There is no right or wrong answer. I’ll toss out some ideas.
1. A shortened version of your book description.
You tell the reader what your book is about. This can be from the third person point of view or from one of the characters in the book. I wouldn’t make this any longer than two minutes. Ideally, it’s one minute, but I have a tendency to go over one minute, so I know how easy that is to do. I try to keep the words brief and rely more on the pictures to state any details that show key points in the plot.
2. A prelude to the book.
I recently did this. The main character in one of my books has a backstory that I thought would be a good lead-in to the book, so I told the trailer in first person (her point of view) and used pictures to get across things that happened in her past. I then add the trailer with the pivotal moment in her life (which is actually at chapter 2 in the book so it connects to the book) that changes everything (a hook).
3. A documentary to go along with the book.
I did this for my Native American Romance Series featuring the Mandan Indians of North Dakota. I went to North Dakota last year, took a ton of pictures to see the earthen lodges and items they used and went on a couple of guided tours to better learn about the Mandans (and I learned more from those tours than I did from the books I read because it helps to have things you can see and touch, and there question and answer part of the tours were immensely valuable). I went back home and made a couple of videos about what I learned, keeping it short and adding the pictures I took. These trailers will hopefully help my readers visualize the Mandan world in my books.
4. A scene from the book
I used Xtranormal to do this. I picked a scene with two characters and did what I thought was a “hook” part of the book. You pick the ‘actors’ available on Xtranormal to play the part of two characters in the book. At last check, you could only use two, and it was hard to do a historical scene due to lack of ‘actors’. I haven’t used this in a while, so things might have changed since then.
5. A teaser.
This is done mostly through pictures or video, but the idea is to use very few words to pique someone’s interest. You basically pick a main question (or theme) that runs through your book and let that be the focal point of the trailer. Off the top of my head, I’m thinking of pictures of a viral outbreak, some violence (guns, etc), and the words “How far would you go to save yourself?” Obviously, the music and picture/video you use would have to carry the weight of the book’s description.
6. Read a small portion of your book.
Usually, I’ve only seen this with a book cover, but you could add background music and some pictures to go along with the scene. The key here is to have a great reading voice.
Those are some different trailers I can think of off the top of my head. Anyone else got any ideas for book trailers?