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Make a Book Trailer That Helps You Sell More Books

This is a guest post from Rocco Rivetti of Film 14 (previously Red 14 Films). He explores the current landscape of book trailers and how many authors think that by paying a few dollars to have one made, it will somehow help you sell more books. A book trailer, even an amazing cinematic book trailer like Rocco discusses below, isn’t going to magically help you sell more books. A book trailer can help you to reach potential readers in another outlet, in a way that is appealing to viewers making them want to buy more, and that is what will help you to sell more books.

Don’t miss the awesome book trailers at the bottom of the post!

Book Trailers

So you’ve been hearing the term book trailer a lot lately, but you’re not quite sure why. Checking out the average book trailer on Youtube doesn’t help much as­ most book trailers tend to look like something a fifth grader threw together as a part of their book report. (No offense to fifth graders). How are these things supposed to help you sell more books again?

Video has long been proclaimed the king of the web, drawing in and holding the attention of more unique viewers than any other media ­format. Book trailers emerged in tandem with the rise in accessibility of web video sites like Youtube and Vimeo. The huge success of music videos for the music industry, both on MTV and then online, demonstrated that video could become a powerful tool in unexpected industries. As the publishing industry started to make the transition to the web, authors and publishers started to embrace short video as a part of their digital book marketing arsenal.

Initially, book trailers were made not by filmmakers as you’d expect, but by someone the author knew who was handy with computers, and they were constricted by the quality standards of the time. These restrictions in quality prompted a reliance on static stock images, canned music, and factory setting text/editing effects that regrettably became the standard for the form. Instead of following the music ­video model and entertaining viewers with well produced content in the style of a short film, initial book trailers did the absolute minimum possible to still fall under the definition of video.

These types of trailers are still made today for anywhere between $10 to $2,000 with little noticeable difference in the final product. So if you’re dead set on one of these book trailers, make sure to shop around, but be warned that they don’t work.

Why don’t they work? Because it’s painfully obvious to potential readers that very little time was put into the making of this type of trailer. Why would a complete stranger on the internet spend their time watching something that even the author didn’t think merited the time to make right? As technology has advanced in the past few years, the capability for streaming high ­quality videos online has risen, and the cost of producing cinematic quality content has decreased dramatically. It’s now possible to create better looking web­ videos on an Indie ­budget, and because of this Internet users have come to expect a certain level of production value when watching a video.

Cinematic Book Trailers

A few years ago, a new form of book trailer emerged, known as the cinematic book trailer. Created as a direct response to the ineffective slideshow book trailers, cinematic book trailers are web ­videos made for books using original, cinematic ­quality footage shot exclusively for the book. Nowadays, almost every book trailer that gets any sort of press coverage, becomes a viral video, or both, is what we would call a cinematic book trailer. There are more cinematic book trailers being produced monthly now than ever before, and they’re very quickly outperforming their predecessors, that are still roaming in rarely ­frequented pockets of the web like technological dinosaurs.

Cinematic book trailers operate under the rule of successful new media marketing. Unlike earlier book trailers, they are not direct ads. People have gotten really good at closing out of pop­up windows and ignoring anything that even remotely hints at the kind of spammy advertising you see on TV and in print. Why should a potential reader give a book they’ve never heard about a precious ninety seconds of their day? How often do you see people on your own social media feed sharing videos with no actual video content? Cinematic book trailers are designed to entertain first, and create awareness about the book second. It may seem simple, but you’d be surprised how much more of a positive result these kinds of book trailers create.

Every single day people release countless amounts of good quality, advertisement free content online, with every video clamoring for attention. Viewers aren’t going to stick around for more than ten seconds if it seems like they’re going to have to sit through a pitch for a book they’ve never heard of, they’d much prefer to watch the video of a cat playing Jenga as they scroll down their social media feed. Your book might be the best thing since sliced bread, but that’s not going to translate through sliding still images.

Do cinematic book trailers work?

Cinematic book trailers work so well because they capture the tone of the book they’re trying to convey, allowing potential readers to quickly and effectively grasp the feel of the novel while barely giving away any of the plot. Cinematic book trailers take what’s already working so well in the book, and put it onto a computer screen in an incredibly accessible web­ medium. Lately, publishing giants like Penguin and HarperCollins have made dramatic increases in both the amounts of cinematic book trailers they produce, and the budget of each individual trailer. High quality book trailers are being implemented everywhere, with particular success in the YA­ genre, where the vast majority of readers don’t remember a time before Youtube.

Another great thing about video is that it can really broaden your outreach. A good cinematic book trailer is the type of thing that potential readers will want to share with their friends, literary websites will want to write articles on, and brands the author as a professional with a multimedia digital marketing campaign, a force to be reckoned with. An appropriately tagged cinematic book trailer uploaded to a site like Youtube or Vimeo will show up on every major search engine when readers search for the book’s title. That’s an additional badge of legitimacy that will assure a reader still doing their research because they’re on the fence about purchasing your book. Unlike paying for an online service like Google Ads, cinematic book trailers have a lifespan as long as a the book is being talked about, searched for, or remembered, and you don’t have to pay per click.

Even in their humble origins, book trailers were seen as an effective and vital part of a digital marketing package for any book. It’s only now that, due to an increase in quality and effort, book trailers are actually getting through to potential readers, and authors are starting to reap the rewards. If a potential reader is entertained enough to watch a full ninety second cinematic book trailer (always remember that on the web, shorter is better), that’s a full ninety seconds that they’ve lingered on your title, and the next time they hear about your book, you can be sure that they’ll remember the your name.

Wrap Up

When implemented correctly, along with a complete marketing campaign, cinematic book trailers can be a slam dunk, causing complete strangers to seriously consider your book. Just make sure to incorporate the trailer into all facets of the campaign. Put the book trailer up on the novel’s homepage, request that the trailer be included in any author interviews or articles written about the book, hold a viewing party, tweet regularly, the possibilities for getting the thing seen are endless. A cinematic book trailer is a powerful tool, it can spark curiosity out of thin air, and in a minute and a half turn a complete stranger into a potential customer. Once authors see it happen, they tend to want one for themselves.

Cinematic Book Trailers from Film 14 (previously Red 14 Films)

Rocco Rivetti is an Associate Producer at Film 14 (previously Red 14 Films), a cinematic book trailer production company founded in Los Angeles, California in the year 2011. He has produced cinematic book trailers for all kinds of clients, from large publishing houses like Penguin to self­ publishers. Film 14 cinematic book trailers have appeared on websites such as Entertainment Weekly, USA Today, The Rumpus, Hypable, The Millions, Huffington Post, and BookRiot.


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