By Elaine Viets
All the cool kids have book trailers. If you’re lucky, your publisher will pop for one. If not, should you spend your money for your own trailer?
I think it’s good advertising.
A book trailer is an animated version of the elevator pitch. It’s fun to show off your trailer on your Web site and Facebook page, like tooling around in a new car. Of course, you have to Tweet it.
The book trailer is just starting its work. I have four trailers now and find new uses for them with each book.
– Signings at bookstores and libraries. Most bookstores and libraries will run book trailers on their Web sites and Facebook pages. Unlike author photos, which seem to feature identical “Is the ordeal over yet?” smiles, book trailers look fresh and different. Nobody ever says, “You don’t look like your book trailer.”
– Media interviews. Send the station your book trailer for their Web and FB pages. Some TV stations will use it on air. Others will post it on their Website, promoting your book after your interview. Newspapers use them, too.
– Special events. I do a number of charity events when my mysteries debut. Some of the e-vites feature the book trailers.
– Sites that show off book trailers. My favorite is Shelf Pleasure www.shelfpleasure.com. More free publicity. (That’s its name. I’m not pulling your leg, or anything else.)
How much does a book trailer cost?
A one or two-minute trailer can run $5,000 to $7,000 and up, especially if it has original video and a professional announcer. Even with stock footage and photos, book trailers can quickly rack up price tag between one or two thousand dollars.
If you’re clever, like TKZ’s Nancy Cohen, you can make your own book trailer. Nancy described how she made her trailer for “Shear Murder” here:
I use EZ Book Covers. Kelly Nichols, one-half of the mystery duo PJ Parrish, is easy to work with, partly because she’s also a writer. Over the rumbles of rolling logs, I hope you’ll hear this: She’s good. I wouldn’t recommend her just because she’s a friend. I’ve paid less than $500 for all four book trailers, including music and photos.
My first trailer, for “Pumped for Murder,” a Dead-End Job mystery about extreme body building, was nearly two minutes long: 1:58. http://www.elaineviets.com/new/misc/trailers.asp
Kelly had to really search to find photos of women body builders, but she got some doozies.
Then mystery author James Swain told me that book trailers don't have to be so long. He recommended short pitches to get the message across. He’s right. Here are the short trailers for “Final Sail,” set aboard a yacht: http://www.elaineviets.com/new/misc/trailers.asp
And “Board Stiff,” a paddleboarding mystery. http://www.elaineviets.com/new/misc/trailers.asp
Thankfully, there’s no video of me taking standup paddleboard lessons.
I have a show on Radio Ear Network, so I narrated my videos. I also assembled a focus group of writers and friends to look at the rough cuts. That’s essential. Sometimes, I got so wrapped up in the video, I lost track of the story.
My new trailer is for “Fixing to Die,” my November Josie Marcus Mystery Shopper mystery. This short trailer was different from the Dead-End Job mysteries, which are set in anything-goes South Florida. Josie is a St. Louis single mom who’s newly married and renovating her first house. The trailer and the music needed a sitcom feel. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y7B8_GR0WIo&feature=youtu.be
Six months worth of work and seventy thousand words reduced to 57 seconds: That’s the art and the goal of the book trailer.