Book trailers for Sarasota Author's Connection:

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The very first thing I did in the meeting, was record a short two-minute book trailer. It was the simplest kind: an author talking to the camera. I chose discussing why the reader should read Three Hundred Zeroes. The purpose wasn’t so much to make a trailer as it was to demonstrate how to record the video, put it on the computer, and then upload it to Filming this live was a gamble. A slow link could take 15-20 minutes, but fortunately, it only took about a minute. My fallback plan was to start the upload, and then play a few favorite book trailers while we waited. I didn’t have to.

The pressure was on me, as the presenter, to nail the video correctly, the first time. There was no time to do a retake. Luckily, it went well, although my trailer was a little “stiff.” You can see it here:

Here is another video that I recorded a few days before the meeting. I sit, facing a camera and talk about material that didn't make it into the book. Note the background is a bookshelf, a very comfortable, author-type setting. This is all low-budget: a camera, a quiet place and a relaxed atmosphere. Try it. Here is the video:

The following are a series of book trailers that we examined during the meeting, along with my comments.

Teens doing cancer video for The Fault in Our Stars by, John Green:

Comments: The teens in this video are not professional actors. The book, I believe, is fiction, but is based on real events. No special effects are used, and the video could have been filmed with any regular modern camera. This video will appeal especially to young adults. It has some nicely done outtakes at the end.

Time: 3:57

Seth Greenland's book trailers for The Angry Buddhist and Shining City:

Comments: Seth puts together simple, yet effective trailers. Everything is low budget and he comes across honestly and engaging. Again, no special effects and he delivers his message: it's all about the books.

Time: 1:14, 2:13, 0:51

Steve Pressfield, Killing Rommel. Total fiction, yet, believable:

Comments: The book in question here is a total fiction, none of the events, nor the premise for the story are real, yet Steve puts together a powerful trailer using readily available, WW II Creative Commons and National Archives footage.

Time: 2:49

The Dennis R. Blanchard, Three Hundred Zeroes book trailer. Eight minutes long, 103,000 views:

Comments: This trailer started life as a simple video to demonstrate how to make a fire rubbing sticks. As I was filming, I realized that I could get in a plug for the book and did so. This video was never intended as a book trailer. It has many things wrong with it; the video is weak, it is way too long and it is poorly edited. However, in spite of all this, it currently has had 103k views and is climbing. It finds new readers and sells books!

Time: 8:48

A Hummingbird's Story, by Barbara Kurtz. This is a simple, kids story trailer:

Comments: What I like about this trailer is it captures the topic so well, a kid with hummingbirds in the back yard would demand this book. Once again, it is a simple video.

Time: 1:55

Book Trailer: Women of the Way: Embracing the Camino. By Jane Blanchard. This is actually a pre-release video, promoting the book. There is a quick description of what the book is about, and then a video tribute to the women in the book follows. The tribute emphasizes the diversity of the women and is accompanied by a very nice piece of music, which the author purchased for $45 from :

Time: 3:52

Stephen King, Under The Dome:

Comments: This is a studio production, but the style could easily be mimicked, without compromising the message. The opening scene is especially grabbing. Much happens in a short time.

Time: 0:31

Stephen King, Under The Dome, interview:

Comments: Nice technique, have an interviewer ask questions, but don't have the interviewer talk too much, after all, it is about the author.

Time: 10:30

Interview with Markus Zusak, author of The Book Thief:

Comments: Invisible interviewer. Use of “still” photos is powerful. The questions just appear on the screen. Was there an actual interviewer? Honest, heartfelt discussion about why the book came about, the history behind it. For fiction writers, here is an opportunity to discuss books, events, movies, etc. that inspired your book. Time: 4:12

MATCHED: A video interview with author Ally Condie:

Comments: Nice friendly voice, good use of background music (could do without background siren. Do a re-shoot?) Description of the book may be just a bit too technical. She is obviously looking up to her left to read a script. Practice, over-and-over, so the script becomes unnecessary. Make the script of large-print, bullet-ed items that are easily seen with just a glance.

Time: 2:00

Ransom Riggs: Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children

Comments: Looks like a Hollywood production, yet everything in it can be done with a home video camera. Lighting is very important in this trailer, as is voice. I love the comment at the very end, “Grandpa, are you going to tell me the rest...” and then the video pans to the cover of the book. Get the book, if you want to know what happens next. Masterful, and great use of background music to build tension.

Time: 2:01

Douglas Preston: Blasphemy, Nice personal touch with interviewer:

Comments: I would love to sit with this guy, with some cheese and wine and just talk about writing and books. He is totally engaging. He sounds very knowledgeable and apparently gives thought to very deep topics. Readers interested in this genre will be drawn to this man's work. He, wisely, gets a plug in for his next book as well.

Time: 3:19

Garth Stein: The Art of Racing in the Rain Video Book Trailer

Comments: The book was written by a dog. True to character, the trailer is narrated by the dog. There is some video footage of Gran Prix race cars. This footage could be something from Creative Commons, or the author purchased it, I don't know. Once again, this trailer is not complicated, but utilizes good use of voice and images.

Time: 3:02

What constitutes a good book trailer?

Simply, it needs to:

  1. Get right to the point.

  2. It must be engaging. No “ums,” or “ah's,” the speaker needs to sound knowledgeable and confident.

  3. Humor is always great. This will cause the “word of mouth” effect.

  4. Of course, the book cover has to be seen, and information on where to find the book. Be certain to include this is the description below the video, along with a live link.

  5. Keep it short 1-5 minutes.

  6. Any music needs to have rights. Creative Commons sources work well, or rights can be purchased. (See , it uses Music Bakery.) YouTube will shut down your audio if in violation. Youtube now has complete libraries of music you can use, without a license, in their videos. See the Youtube tools for more.

  7. Make certain you're happy with the video, you can't change it, once posted. You can post a new one, but you start the view count over, from zero.

  8. You can paste/link these videos in your web page, blog or Facebook pages.