Book trailers take time, skill, and dedication to do right. Your approach can make or break your story. Before you begin, I recommend carefully considering what you want to achieve and if you have the time and resources to create a good-quality trailer. If not, consider focusing on other promotional methods. Here are the main steps.
- First, write a script. People have very short attention spans, so I recommend keeping it below 200 words for a trailer that’s less than two minutes (one to one-and-a-half minutes is even better). It’s hard to decide what to keep and cut. What will tease potential readers and compel them to read the book? Do you even need a script? If there is script, read it aloud. Written words sound different when spoken.
- What style trailer fits best with your book’s style and mood? There are many options—film, stills, animation or anime, with voice over, open captioned or none?
- The next step is locating the director. If you shoot video, you need a videographer to direct the production. If using still photography, a photographer will work. If animating, an animator is who you’ll need. Look for someone with book trailer experience, if possible. They will advise you on other crew members.
- Work with your director to identify the cast. Most cities have talent agencies where you can find the right models or actors for your production. Sometimes less experienced actors, actresses and models are looking to build out their reel or portfolio and may be willing to work for free. Invite friends to be your extras.
- Scout the location with your director to make sure it’s the right size, shape and has the lighting to achieve the trailer you want. Look for locations where you can shoot for no charge. Be aware of city ordinances that require permits for shooting outside. Be prepared with a release form explaining the production is promotional and anyone who may wander into your scene won’t be paid.
- Audio is as important as visuals. Good trailers have music that captures the book’s tone and build to add drama in the right spots. If you use voiceover, music should mix so it supports the voiceover rather than overpowers it. Voiceover acting is a trained profession that not many people can do well. If you have the contacts and resources, find a professional and use professional recording equipment. Bad audio can ruin an amazing film.
- If resources are limited, you can purchase professional stock video and photography from sources such as iStock. Stock video is more expensive than photography. There are also free sources for photography such as Pexels, Pixabay, Stocksnap, and Unsplash. Carefully read the licensing pages. You can also explore the film, art and drama departments at local universities, colleges and even arts magnet high schools to find videographers, animators, actors, or models. These students will be eager to build their reel or portfolio and may work for low or no cost. They may have access to equipment and direction from their teacher or professor.
Enjoy bringing your book to life with film!