Book Trailers: Learnings from Viewing a Few

Book Trailer imageI ran across an article that mentioned book trailers a while back and was curious. Now I’ve finally had the chance to hop on YouTube and check out a few. The sampling I viewed showed me some things to aim for and some things to avoid when I do my novel trailer… which I will probably get around to in about 30 years. Well, a guy can dream, right? So here are some thoughts from my watching trailers and dreaming of my own.

BORN WICKED: The Cahill Witch Chronicles Book 1 by Jessica Spotswood book trailer

This is a good one. It’s just a little over a minute long, so boredom isn’t a factor, even for an ADD type like me. The production values are all top-notch—the picture quality, the camera angles, costuming, acting—the works. Best of all, the trailer gets right to the main character and the main conflict and it tells the story with moving pictures, not just with words. It ends with a still of the book and some related info, which makes total sense.


  • Keep it short
  • Get to the heart right away
  • Tell it with pictures
  • Make the quality as high as you can
  • End with a pitch for the book

Solitary Sky ~ book trailer

I liked this one pretty well. It’s about two-and-a-half minutes long, so it strained my attention limit—it’s a trailer, so I don’t go in expecting to invest much time—but it didn’t lose me. Again, the production values are high. The technique is different, though. This one intersperses title cards, which are used for narrative, and moving pictures. There’s haunting, atmospheric music that increases in tempo as the swaps between title cards and pictures get more rapid. The only problem I had with this trailer was that, while it intrigued me, it didn’t tell me quite what the deal was. The lead moves away from home, her boyfriend is a werewolf, they’re madly in love, she’s in some kind of danger. Intriguing, see? But a bit vague. I’m not sure it does the best job of making someone want to get the book.


  • Make the quality as high as you can
  • Use catchy, appropriate music
  • Title cards can work well
  • Be clear about what the central conflict is
  • End with a pitch for the book

2012 Book Trailer #2 (Escape 2 Earth)

The trailer for Escape 2 Earth is, I’m sad to say, amateurish. Let’s overlook the fact that the title uses the numeral “2” instead of the word “to.” And let’s overlook the fact that one of the title cards describes the book as a “fictional novel.”  The thing starts off with rolling Star-Wars-style text telling us the Mayans predicted the end of an era and that it’s Earth caught between a pair of rival alien groups. At about the end of this text, the techno music track stops and another techno music piece that doesn’t match in tempo abruptly starts. Then we’re treated to still picture after still picture of pyramids, Mayan symbols, crop circles, the book cover over and over, blabbity blah. To make things even more fun, all the trailer tells you about the book is that the evil Ontarians (aliens from Ontario?) are coming to do all us poor Earthlings some mighty wrong and the Mayans predicted it all. Characters? Never mentioned. Conflicts for said characters? Zilch-o-rama. One thing done right: There is a web site and the trailer gives the URL (but after watching the trailer I couldn’t imagine the site would be any good, so I didn’t go there).


  • If your book has a website, give the URL
  • Show the characters and their conflicts, don’t just tell about the book
  • Make the quality as high as you can
  • Make the visuals meaningful; don’t string together a bunch of them and expect the audience to get it
  • Be sure your grammar and usage is perfect. You’re supposed to be a writer.
  • Watch this trailer and don’t do any of the stuff that’s done in it

This post is getting long, so I’m going to stop now. Maybe next time I’ll check out a few more. It’s pretty fun. I just hope I get to make one someday.

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