Get Creative With Your Book Trailers

Book trailers are popping up all over the internet, promoting both fiction and nonfiction books. In most cases these book trailers are similar to movie trailers – sliced together footage of pictures and film clips, often with a voiceover.

Movie trailers probably work best when they include footage of a film star that we all want to see in a movie. We may not even care what the movie is about because the film looks like good entertainment and all that is required of us is to sit in a dark theater and watch the film.

Yet, when using book trailers to motivate people to buy books, we need to consider what we are asking these people to do. We are asking them to spend more money than the price of a movie ticket and work at reading the book because, yes, it is work to read a book even if you love reading.

And on top of that these book trailers don’t have any film stars to entice us to the movie theater. There’s usually not even the added bonus of the familiarity of a sequel.

Then should book authors abandon making book trailers? Should they focus their book marketing on other venues and leave the trailers to the film industry?

Hold on! Isn’t there another way that uploading videos to YouTube and other free online video sites can be utilized to promote books?

Here’s an alternative approach:

Book authors can make short videos (three minutes maximum) of topics in their nonfiction books and related subjects in their fiction books.

Let’s imagine that Valerie has written the mystery “Jonas in Mexico City.” In her mystery she features a great deal of the ancient and modern culture of that sprawling metropolis. What if she makes a short video on preparing a Mexican dish that her protagonist eats in the book?

The video should be entertaining and informative, and it should feature Valerie herself talking about the recipe. At the end of her description of the recipe, she adds that the protagonist in her book “Jonas in Mexico City” enjoys this dish very much. Doesn’t this sound like a more interesting video that watching pictures and film clips of Mexico City while a voiceover talks about the plot of “Jonas in Mexico City”?

Now let’s imagine Melvin has written the nonfiction book “Cacti of the American Southwest.” Instead of a video describing what the book is about, what if Melvin is filmed in his cacti garden sharing fascinating tidbits about these plants. And at the end, of course, he mentions that, if you want to learn more, get a copy of his book “Cacti of the American Southwest.”

These are only two examples of the kinds of “book trailers” that can get your creative juices flowing. If you’re a writer, you should be able to come up with a series of videos that entertain, inform and pitch your book.

Leave the clips and voiceovers to movie trailers. You use the visual medium to create a personal bond with potential readers of your book while providing them with information of value. Then upload your newest masterpieces to the internet and who knows? Maybe your innovative book trailers will go viral.

Phyllis Zimbler Miller (@ZimblerMiller on Twitter) is the co-founder of the social media marketing company




  1. says

    Phyllis – I like your article and your creative idea but I believe that by definition a book trailer is a synopsis of the book combined with images and sound that add to the enjoyment and excitement of your book. What you have described is a great idea but not exactly a book trailer. You can see some of the trailers I have produced at

  2. Phyllis Zimbler Miller says

    Reno —

    I think of a book trailer as similar to a movie trailer, whose purpose is to entice you to see the film (or read the book) but does not give a synopsis. Of course, a book trailer could give a synopsis — there’s a wide range of options for the content of a book trailer.

    Here’s the definition from Wikipedia:

    A book trailer is a video advertisement for a book which employs techniques similar to those of movie trailers. They are circulated on television and online in most common digital video formats.

    The term “book trailer” is currently a trademarked term owned by Sheila Clover of Circle of Seven Productions. The first book trailer to be played publicly was at a book convention in Shreveport, LA. in 2003. The trailer was for a book entitled Dark Symphony by author Christine Feehan.

    Though book trailers were being made as early as 2002, the term caught on in 2005 when user-generated online video upload became more popular. Sites such as MySpace, YouTube and iFilm allowed for the videos to be viewed by the public, creating a market for this promotional tool.

    Book Trailers can be acted out, full production trailers, flash videos, animation or simple still photos set to music with text conveying the story.

  3. Samuel says

    I do this on Youtube! I love book trailers.

    You can make them on any movie editing software, but I do it on windows movie maker. I then download a song off Youtube and match it with that.