Writing is a great talent and being able to write is an important part of writing a great book, but when it comes to book trailer, you need some additional skills.
Check out this trailer to see what I mean:
The trailer is minimalistic. The two primary elements are text and sound. Together, they express the concept of abduction, war, and slavery (the last bit is implied by the sounds, just in case that doesn’t translate outside American culture). We learn the concept: 11,000 American teenagers are abducted to participate in someone else’s war—similar to what happens in all-too-many third world countries, but with a sci-fi, interplanetary/interdimensional twist.
That’s all fine and good. But it’s not a story. It’s just a concept.
Now, if you view the trailer from the YouTube page, you get a much stronger sense of the story:
“In one day, over eleven thousand American teenagers go missing. This is the story of where they went.
Child soldiers: war-driven abductions of children who are forced to join murderous armies and trained to kill are nothing new in other countries. But it’s about to happen within the United States on an inter-planetary scale.
When over 11,000 teenagers who happen to have the same date of birth are simultaneously reported missing on their sixteenth birthday, no explanation offered can help console a struggling nation.
Joshua and Gabriel are twin brothers among the missing. When they awake in the parallel world of Askival, they are told of a precarious conflict with a rival country and are asked to participate in a war to help prevent the annihilation of an entire race.
Under the influence of a mysterious airborne drug, most of the abducted teens eventually embrace their new calling, but Joshua, Gabriel and their friend Heather are among the few who have nagging suspicions of folly. If their suspicions are correct, that means all eleven thousand were meant to serve as a brainwashed army on the wrong side of the war, and time is running out before they are sent to the front lines.”
Now, that has back-of-the-book appeal, and it includes concept, characters, problem, and a taste of theme. It sells the book much better than the trailer. But if you viewed the trailer from my site, you never saw it and that’s the problem.
And the thing that really gets me is that there’s plenty of room in the trailer to include a taste of this information, seeing that the trailer “stops” at 1:02, but keeps going for another whole minute.
So, if we were to derive rules from this trailer:
- Visual appeal is a very important element of a trailer and it’s not achieved by placing text as the primary visual with only a few seconds (out of 2 minutes) of images.
- The advantage of a book trailer is that it can be shared, which means it can “go viral,” and so all the important information has to be in the trailer itself, not buried on the YouTube page.
- When you stop showing new, moving information, then it’s time to stop your trailer…don’t let it run on…and on…and on…
A good trailer can be a great boon for your book sales, but that doesn’t mean you HAVE to have a book trailer, especially if the best you can produce is a mediocre one. A book trailer—a good trailer—requires a different skill set that authors either need to develop or buy. It also needs a different approach—a visual approach.