The Art of the Trailer Visually connect with potential readers


Guest Blogger David LeRoy, author of The Siren of Paris, has kindly put together some notes on supplementing your marketing efforts by creating a book trailer. Trailers are a fun, visual way to represent your novel and perhaps put it before a wider audience. And who knows, an intriguing trailer just might be enough to interest a film-maker in optioning a longer feature based on your work.

The goal of a book trailer is to catch the attention of a potential customer and entice them enough to click through and buy your book. It is that simple. The goal is not to bore the viewer with every detail of the story. The goal is not to repeat everything that happens in your book pitch or book description on the Amazon store. It is to snare the sales of customers who prefer to make their shopping decisions visually. A trailer can be a marketing tool that gives your title an advantage over other novels; however, done poorly, it could also push potential readers away from your book altogether.

How to make a book trailer

In working on my own trailer, I’ve compiled a list of basic principles to consider when putting together a book trailer.

1. Use stock photography that is correctly licensed. This is critical. You don’t want to be in a position where the trailer is pulled down, or you end up receiving an unexpected cease and desist letter from someone you had no idea held the copyright to an image you believed was public domain. There are a number of online stock photography sources that provide licensed images.

2. Keep the trailer short. How short: is the question. I recommend no more than two minutes. However, keep in mind that many people stop watching at 90 seconds. Do not be tempted to believe your book trailer will be the exception.

3. Tickle the viewer; don’t thrash them. Not every fact about your book or story is relevant for a book trailer. All too often, author-made videos give the reader too much information, or give away a major plot point. In the case of book trailers, less is more.

4. Be a poet. Think of the trailer as a series of poetic stanzas linked together by various images that also have their own message.  If you have an image that is self evident, no need to repeat the message in the text or dialogue. Keep each stanza short. Let the image speak for itself and the text support the image. A trailer with too much text per frame drags the pace down and risks losing the viewer.

5. Call the viewer to action. A book trailer has a purpose, which is to encourage the viewer to buy the book. Of course, you don’t want to beg, or outright tell the reader to buy, but at the end of the trailer, you must present them with a link to a place where they can purchase your book. This is the call to action, or the close of a sale.

Working with a trailer production company

Early on, I decided that writing and producing my own book trailer was above and beyond my own skill set.  After shopping the market, I chose to contract with Circle of Seven Productions. Of all the vendors, I felt they had the expertise of not only creating the trailer, but also offering social media distribution for every single package of trailer they offer.  Here’s a step-by-step breakdown of how the process went down.

  • The first step was to decide what level of trailer and social media distribution was right for my book and budget. Having never worked with them before, I choose the basic teaser package.
  • Next, I forwarded a synopsis of the story and the key characters.
  • Then, Circle of Seven assigned a team to work on my trailer, which included a scriptwriter and video producer.
  • I worked with the scriptwriter of the trailer, nailing down each section until we had agreed upon a text.
  • After the text was completed, it was off to the video producer to select the right set of images, which matched the look and feel of my story.
  • BE PATIENT. I would advise not to rush this work. Allow yourself enough time to get it right. Producing a quality trailer does not take place in a week. Circle of Seven recommend at least 60 days until release,  but I actually found 90 days was better.
  • Once the trailer was ready for review, I viewed it in stock mode for any fine-tuning. I had to change some of the music in my trailer and one image needed to be revised and edited.
  • My trailer was done! I was just left with a distribution date  I paid a small amount extra to have a trailer produced specifically to Amazon’s guidelines. The main trailer will be distributed to a number of social media sights for viewing.

This is an art and a skill set that I am very thankful I could reach out to Circle of Seven Productions to provide.  They work with self-published authors, as well as all the major publishers in the business, and without them, I am sure my book trailer would not have been even half as good. Among their distribution channels is Reader’s Entertainment T.V. where you will find my trailer for The Siren of Paris if you want to check it out yourself to compare their skills. Overall, I enjoyed the process and I’m happy with the outcome. I’d love to know what you think too.

 Thanks, David. You’ve inspired me to delve into the world of trailers once my next novel is released early in 2013. Meanwhile, I would love to know about readers’ experiences with trailers. If you have a book trailer, or you make book trailers for self-published authors, please drop a link in the comments below so we can all check them out.

Featured image is CC licensed Attribution Some rights reserved by vancouverfilmschool

About David LeRoy

Sometimes I am an artist, and sometimes I am an author, but I am always very creative. Live and work in California. My writing usually deals with the more spiritual and philosophical problems of life, and death.


  1. Thanks for the info. I checked out the Circle Web site and although I can’t afford anything right now, I will aim for a pro trailer when I can. Definitely, it’s worth the money.


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