Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Book Trailers That Answer the Buy Questions

Today we welcome Lisa Gottfried to the Blood-Red Pencil. She shares her professional advice about book trailers and how you can make yours stand out from the crowd.

I am dangerous in a bookstore. My husband and I have a deal that we will not step through those glass doors to literary heaven unless we have earned enough extra money ahead of time to pay for at last fifteen or twenty books in one visit. I am a serious book buyer.

My general game plan goes something like this. Go to the genre I adore and stand amongst the shelves scanning for titles and covers that appeal to my interests. Zero in on a small section and start reading titles. Pull out a few that draw me in and read the jacketflaps or backcover synopses.

What happens next is the part where I decide to buy or not. I flip open the book and read a few random pages. I decide right then and there whether I like the writing, the illustrations and the essence of the book. From there the book either comes with me or gets quickly placed back on the shelf. I am not alone in buying books this way. Most people use this method in one form or another.

How does this relate to on-line book sellers and book videos or book trailers? Imagine I'm at my computer, looking at books on, or or a local bookstore's website. The browse is a little different, and how I arrive at a possible book is different, but the decision making point, the moment that I decide to buy the book, is the same. I want to know if I'll like the writing. I want to be shown the essence of the book on-line. How do I get to that kind of information about a book as an on-line buyer? Book trailers.

There are many, many book trailers out there on the internet that seemed to have missed the mark on how people buy books. The purpose of a trailer is not to be the jacketflap summary or the backcover synopsis. That part is offered as a paragraph, usually to the right of the video trailer, and is read before a viewer decides to watch the video in the first place. A book trailer, on the other hand, allows the viewer to get a sense of the writing in the book, to delve deeper into the story, and get a quick glimpse of the overall nature or flavor of the book.

Unfortunately, the formula for book trailers these days seems to be the same one used over and over again. "Tim, the forlorn salesman. Janet, his flighty wine-loving wife. A stolen baby. The police are after them for a murder they didn't commit. Find out what happens in XYZ Title." Ugh.

If you are thinking of making a book trailer, about to write up a script, or are having someone create a video for you, use some commonly known writing skills to build interest in your book. Don't tell your readers, show them. Zero in on an emotionally interesting moment in the book. Jump into an interesting dialogue between characters. Steer clear from third person storytelling. Be creative, brief, and don't give away the whole plot.

Answer the questions that are on the mind of the book trailer viewer. Why should I buy this book? What's interesting about it? Will I like the writing? Can I emotionally connect with this story?

Having a book trailer is an amazing way to move people towards decision and action. Use the media to its fullest potential. You want more than just a fancy announcement that your book is out and available to buy. Go the extra step and grab hold of viewers and move them towards actually buying your book! If done right your book trailer can cause people to sit up and take notice, and in the end, buy your book.

Click here for a video example of what works.

Lisa Gottfried has been in the video and marketing field for over 15 years. She owns DigitalWeavers, a website and book trailer company in Napa, CA. She is available for speaking engagements around the San Francisco Bay Area and for national events around the country as an expert on book trailers. She's also an on-line social networking junkie and consumes books like candy bars. At Facebook: Lisa Gottfried

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  1. My favourite book trailer.

    Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters

  2. Great stuff. Thanks for sharing :)

  3. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  4. So far, the only book trailers I bothered to watch are those created by or for writer friends. I need to pay more attention to this trend.

  5. I've been thinking about doing a trailer for sometime but really had no idea what to do, so thanks for the info. It's inspired me to do something other than just think about it.

  6. You've been nominated in the Best Thriller/Mystery category for BBAW. Can you email me at as soon as possible with your email address? Thanks!

  7. Wonderful post. I am just learning about book trailers and this is most helpful. Thanks.

  8. This has totally made me rethink my plans for a book trailer! I was just going to put up the cover and some quotes from reviews with some good music. Now I'm thinking I should read a bit of the text!

  9. A pretty good example of using voice/story in the book trailer is Ellen Hopkins' Tricks. It doesn't just give you the back flap in the book; it lets you talk to the characters. Great post.

  10. Fantastic book trailer.


  11. OK, that was a great trailer for that book for children book writers!

    This is good information.

  12. Great idea to focus on a key scene. I still need to do a trailer for Killer Career. I'll keep that in mind.

    Morgan Mandel

  13. I like movie-style trailers.

  14. This is one place where I probably have to look outside of "me" to see what the big deal is. I can read a blurb and an excerpt faster than most book trailers, plus I know that I'm judging the writing, not the hype.

    They kind of remind me of those filmstrips back in elementary school, where I'd be finished reading the panel and got so frustrating having to wait for the ding which meant the teacher would show the next one.

    Even the example trailer took 10 seconds before it started. I'd have clicked away.

    But they seem to do something for name recognition. I can't imagine going straight to "buy" from a trailer. At best, I might go to the blurb and excerpt -- which means it's just added a step to the process.

    Then again, I don't use Twitter, either.


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