Monday, February 15, 2010

More on Book Trailers

I'm continuing my research into the subject of movie trailers. I continue to find quite a few for prose books but very few for poetry books. I found one site, Book Screening, which hosts book trailers in many categories. I found 184 in the Mystery/Thriller category and 251 in the Non-Fiction category but only 17 in Poetry. In the Poetry group, several were videos of readings of individual poems but not really book trailers. We poets need to learn something from the writers in other genres. Let's all make book trailers! They seem like a great way to reach potential readers.

Book Screening has stopped accepting additional trailers—due to "time constraints." Hopefully, their constraints will soon become unconstrained.

Poet Collin Kelley has done a wonderful trailer for his novel, Conquering Venus. Take a look at it:

Collin is fortunate enough to have a friend who did the trailer for him. The professional touches are obvious, but Janna did her own (with some guidance) and it's also a beauty. Collin is also lucky to know the musician who allowed him to use her work for the sound track.

Here are some thoughts about what we can learn from Collin's trailer:

1. Keep it simple but varied enough to hold the viewer's interest. With all that can be done with videos, it's a huge temptation to go overboard with various effects. You want to tempt but not overwhelm. Collin's trailer strikes a good balance between simplicity and sophistication.

2. Limit the amount of text. Readers have to read quickly, so don't put too much text on a single clip. Not all clips need text. Again, Collin's video strikes a good balance; images, text, and audio all work together rather than at odds with each other.

3. Use a font large enough that readers will be able to read it clearly. Remember, too, that some clarity may be lost when you upload to YouTube. Keep font styles simple.

4. Keep it brief. Tempt; don't overwhelm. The average viewer, I've been told, won't hang in for more than two minutes. I read one minute somewhere. You will be surprised how many clips you can get in in under two minutes. Janna's trailer of The Motion of the Ocean (posted on Feb. 4) takes only 2.03 minutes but includes 43 clips by my count. Collin's takes 1.33 minutes and includes, I think, 10 clips. I say "I think" because some of the clips are animated and it's hard to figure out if I'm seeing one or more. In any case, the animation is wonderful. You can inexpensively purchase photos and animated images at istockphoto.

5. Images should support and coordinate with the text. Notice how beautifully both Collin's and Janna's trailers do just that.

6. Add a soundtrack. Coordinate it with the images. Choose something appropriate to your subject. No grim reaper music for a collection about how jolly life is. Again, notice in both Janna's and Collin's trailers how the music adds to the video, how well-suited it is. Be sure you adjust the volume so that it does not overwhelm. Make the volume consistent throughout. If you're on a Mac, there are many soundtracks that come with iMovie, of varying duration and all free. And don't forget Kevin MacLeod's Royalty Free Music site.

7. Include the book cover. Essential! I've also read it suggested elsewhere that you include some close-up details.

8. Include your own image. Viewers like to see the author.

9. Establish your credibility as an author (briefly, of course). This can be a few endorsements or blurbs and / or prize your work has received.

Now I sound like I know what I'm talking about. I don't. I'm just beginning to learn how to make poetry videos. But these are tips I've jotted down as I've been researching. This is some of what I've learned. You might find it useful too. More coming. More learning to do.

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  1. I ran into book trailers a few months ago on YouTube. It's a brilliant marketing strategy, but you have to be careful. Amateur work can make your book look unappealing. As someone who writes and can do professional video work, this is very exciting!

  2. I love Collin's trailer. And i agree with the comment above. This could so easily backfire. I know I would want someone to help work on mine...

  3. I agree with Crunchy--you have to be careful not to post an inferior product and yes, this is all very exciting. Definitely something we should be looking into as we explore new ways to promote our work. Susan, check out You can join for free and then experiment with their service for a 30-second video. If you want something longer and more elaborate, it's only $30 per year for an endless number of videos.

  4. Don't tease us! How did you go against the norm?

  5. Thanks for featuring the trailer and blogging about this subject, Diane!

  6. Great tips. You can see some more book trailers at


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