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Getting Your Book to Move: The Book Trailer

/By Anne-Marie Bottoms/

It’s the first week of public voting for the Self-Publish or Perish competition, and there’s one aspect of the prize that should be discussed – the book trailer.

A book trailer is a relatively new concept in publishing, but using moving pictures as a way to market publications is becoming more common. It allows potential readers to see the essence of the novel in a short, understandable and entertaining way. It is, essentially, an advertisement for your book.

As for the self-published author, you have spent a good deal of time and effort into creating your book, and simply you want it to reach as many readers as possible.  A 30-90 second book trailer can help you achieve that. 

However, like much of the self-publishing world, not every writer is also a filmmaker, which is why it is best to hire a professional when implementing a book trailer as part of your marketing strategy.

Below is a list of things you should consider when commissioning a book trailer:

A good filmmaker should, before drafting an estimate, discuss your audio/visual needs for the trailer and your book’s key themes, which may be transferable to the way in which you hope to entice buyers. A videographer should ask the following questions: 

  • Will the visuals include the book’s cover art alone, or do you want filmed sequences? 
  • Will your trailer use a voiceover in which passages from the book are read?
  • If yes, will the voiceover be performed by an actor via a talent pool, or will you opt to use your own voice? 
  • Will you use royalty free music or license contracted compositions?
  • Do you want a 30 second spot, 90 second spot, or something even longer?

A good videographer will guide you through all these questions, and then use the information you provide to offer options that suit different budget levels. A book trailer need not be expensive to be effective.

A trailer should interest as many potential readers as possible and be versatile enough to translate to various audiences. Considering the 30-90 seconds you’ll have to get your message across, a trailer will need to be tightly organized yet versatile enough to grab as large and diversified audience as you possibly can.

In order to achieve this, you’ll want to consider asking the following questions when planning a book trailer with your videographer:

  • What content from novel speaks to a great many?
  • What ideas are universal?

In addition to the trailer itself being versatile, the filmmaker you choose should be versatile, too. Look for a filmmaker who produces different types of films, a filmmaker who is just at ease with filming fictional stories as they are with factual reporting. 


In this day and age, short attention span reigns, so make the most out of those 30-90 seconds. Stand out by grasping the viewers’ attention and keeping hold of it throughout the duration of the trailer. The following are aspects you should consider when discussing your book trailer with your videographer: 

  • Carefully think through how you will anchor your viewer from the first second right through to the end of the piece. (Make sure your filmmaker shows you a story board before shooting.)
  • Play with the relationship between audio and visual. 
  • Play with timing of information release.
  • Play with the amount of information you release to the viewer. 
  • Make the potential reader not only want more – and buy the book – but also propel them to click, post, and share that trailer with others on social media.

Finally, make sure your filmmaker can provide you with a product in various formats so that you can upload and distribute the book trailer to a multitude of platforms.

In the end, you want your book to catch the attention of potential readers, you want your book to move and to be seen…and read.

Anne-Marie runs August Pictures with her husband Gary. August Pictures is donating the book trailer portion of the Self-Publish or Perish prize. They offer affordable, versatile and innovative promotional videos for a wide variety of organisations – from green energy companies, to theatres, to publishing authors. You get the picture.  Get August Pictures to move it for you and get your book seen…and read.


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2 thoughts on “Getting Your Book to Move: The Book Trailer

  1. I’ve heard about book trailers but you know I’ve never actually watched one – I must go and hunt one out now after reading this. It does sound fascinating and as though it would be great fun to do.

  2. Trevar on said:

    I found the film clips most interesting. Excellet method of extra PR for a Writers work.

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