Posted by: Kerry Gans | April 28, 2015

Book Trailers: Purpose and Worth

This weekend, my friend Kathryn Craft launched her new novel, The Far End of Happy. She also launched an online hashtag campaign #choosethisday, which officially launches May 1st, where we all flood Twitter or Facebook with empowering, positive messages and suicide awareness resources. I love seeing authors weaving a deeper meaning into their book launches by also doing things to make a difference.

At Kathryn’s launch event, we got to see her emotional, compelling book trailer:

The next day, the co-owner of The Interlude Group, who created the trailer, joined us at The Liars Club Writers Coffeehouse in Willow Grove. Keith Strunk of the Interlude Group talked about making trailers—the purpose behind having one, and if you can afford one.

A book trailer is simply another marketing tool. We may want it in our toolbox, we may not. It’s rather a personal decision—financial as well as emotional. Video is powerful in today’s marketplace, where we need to catch people’s attention and hold it before the next distraction comes along. But it’s not enough to simply throw some video together, slap down some music, and post it on YouTube. A lot of thought goes into a successful book trailer.

You need to consider the ingredients:

  • visuals, whether still pictures, animation, or live action
  • music—copyright is an issue, so this might be the toughest part to find
  • text, capturing the heart of the book but not necessarily text from the book
  • editors who have the same vision of the trailer and book that you do

Even if you are paying for the book trailer yourself, the publisher may want to have a strong voice in the final trailer. While this may seem unfair to us at first glance, you certainly should coordinate your message across all platforms and you are so close to your book that an objective marketing eye is often a blessing.

I am not going to go into where to find your visuals and music—that can be a post unto itself, and there are many posts about exactly that around the Internet. Suffice it to say that quality is of the utmost importance. People expect Hollywood-level production values (unless cheesy is part of your shtick for the trailer), and you don’t want your trailer to get passed around for the wrong reasons.

After we talked about the ingredients of a trailer, we discussed what we want the trailer to accomplish. We want the trailer to:

  • be watched multiple times by the same viewer
  • make a viewer want to read the book
  • spark word-of-mouth
  • have it be passed around virally
  • move the viewer emotionally
  • convey the heart of the book
  • convey all the needed info to buy the book

So will the book trailer sell your book? Perhaps not directly—we really have no way of tracking that. But if people start talking about your book, that’s great. Moreover, seeing the trailer is one more “imprint” on them of your name and your book’s title. I’ve been told it takes seven imprints to make a lasting impression. Thus the importance of having a trailer people will watch more than once.

Those are why you want a book trailer—the purposes of going through all the work (and it is a lot of work). I’m sure you’re wondering about cost. The cost is in direct proportion to how complicated your trailer is. The more images you need to buy, the more cost. Stock video footage, even more. Hiring live talent or doing Hollywood-level CGI—a whole lot of pretty pennies. Music choices also add to it. And, of course, your biggest expense will be the editor’s time. A simple book trailer can run from $1,500 to $5,000.

The more prepared you are when you find your editors, the more you save. The more materials you provide, the more you save. The clearer your communication with them (thus, the fewer revisions you need to make), the more you save. You will need to ask yourself: Is it worth it? There is no right answer–only your answer.

So know this:

  • A book trailer can be a valuable marketing tool, but likely your publisher will not pay for it.
  • Even if the publisher is not paying for it, they will probably want a say in it.
  • A quality book trailer is not cheap, and you want quality.
  • And never, ever, make your book trailer more than one minute long.

I hope you found this helpful!

Do you use book trailers in your marketing? Why or why not? If you have examples of a book trailer you think is wonderful, feel free to post in the comments!


  1. […] Book Trailers: Purpose and Worth […]


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