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Book Trailers: Best Practices for Using for Book Marketing

Updated on December 30, 2017
heidithorne profile image

Heidi Thorne is a self-publishing expert, nonfiction book editor, author of 21+ books and eBooks, and a former trade newspaper editor.


As I'm writing this post, the summer blockbuster movie season is just around the corner. So teaser movie trailers abound in theaters and online, whetting our appetites for more of the same when we go to see the real thing.

Did you ever think of doing a "trailer" for your book? Book trailers can be an effective and engaging book promotion strategy that major traditional publishers have embraced. With YouTube being one of the top visited websites in the world (according to, it shows that people are primed to consuming video.

What is a Book Trailer?

Like their cinematic counterparts, book trailers are videos that give prospective readers a sample of what is in the book. Book trailers can feature:

  • The author talking about his/her book.
  • A summary of the plot for fiction (without giving it all away, of course!).
  • Highlights of the best parts of the book (again, without giving it all away).
  • Hints or clues about the story which raise curiosity.
  • Graphics of the book cover so that readers can identify the book when shopping in stores or online.
  • Author biographies.

Essentially, it's a book "commercial." Take a look at the following examples...

This is a Book Trailer...

And this is a book trailer that gives a sneak peek of the story, told by the author...

Another example which raises curiosity and features the author...

Budget-Friendly Book Trailer Video Tips

Some book trailers are as elaborate and high production as their cinematic cousins. Most self published authors do not have that kind of money, equipment, talent, staging, video editing skills, and other resources to jump into the movie making pool. Luckily it's not required to create an effective book trailer.

A simple, friendly "talking head" type webcam or smartphone video of you as the self published author talking to your potential readers can have just as much impact. You'll also be able to elaborate on how and why you wrote the book and/or what you hope your readers will get out of it.

The days of hermit cave writers who are highly disconnected from their readers are long gone. Today's social media adept audiences want connection and authenticity. They want to feel there's a real person behind the words on the page. I know I'm more likely to want to read a book written by someone I "know," even if I've just been introduced to them with a short video.

Book Trailer for My Book on Promotional Products

Book Trailer for My Book on Sales

Book Trailer for My Eco Friendly Marketing Book

Book Trailer Best Practices for Self Publishing

There are some best practices when it comes to making video book trailers an effective marketing tool for self publishing:

  • Don't Make the Trailer Too Long. Might as well read the whole book! Remember, your trailer is a "commercial" for the book, not just a shortened version of full manuscript. I have seen some trailers as long as 7 to 10 minutes. Wow! Not only is that an investment on the part of the reader, the time and effort it takes to create a video of several minutes is a project in itself! For self publishers, it might be better to invest time and money in another book or other cost-effective marketing. Click here for 12 low cost book promotion ideas.
  • Don't Oversell. This is one of my pet peeves for both movie and book trailers. When the trailer is way better than the real book or movie, I'm disappointed and feel duped.
  • Trailer Should Appeal to the Same Audience as the Book. Duh, right? Don't create a trailer that talks down to your audience OR talks over their heads. As well, know what triggers will motivate your audience to want more and want to read your book.
  • Truth in Labeling. Haven't we all been to movies that were promoted as including lots of action, only to find that the total action was limited to what was in the trailer. Tell 'em what's in the "package."
  • Preserve Some Mystery... and Sales. I hate those movie trailers where you think you've seen the whole movie in the trailer! Then why go? Though you want to tell prospective readers what they can expect in your book, you don't want to tell them everything! Don't give them a reason not to buy and read your book. A trailer is a "teaser."
  • Use it On Your Blog and Website. Sure, you'll probably park your trailer on YouTube. But don't let it just sit there! Embed it on your blog or website. Share it on social media. Get it out there!
  • Use YouTube Description, Keywords and Links to Send Sales Prospects to You. Did you know you can include an active hyperlink in your YouTube video description? Add one that goes to your book sales page or website. Choose keywords for your book's topic so people can find you in search. Remember, it's a commercial!

Disclaimer: Both the publisher and author have used their best efforts in preparation of this information. No representations or warranties for its contents, either expressed or implied, are offered or allowed and both parties disclaim any implied warranties of merchantability or fitness for your particular purpose. The advice and strategies presented herein may not be suitable for you, your situation or business. Consult with a professional advisor where and when appropriate. Neither the publisher nor author shall be liable for any loss of profit or any other damages, including but not limited to special, incidental, consequential or punitive, arising from or relating to your reliance on this information.

© 2016 Heidi Thorne


Submit a Comment

  • lawrence01 profile image

    Lawrence Hebb 22 months ago from Hamilton, New Zealand


    They certainly sound a good idea, as for me I'm getting to be a 'bit of a perfectionist' so I'm working on the principle that what I do I want to do well.

    Thanks for the offer though.


  • heidithorne profile image

    Heidi Thorne 22 months ago from Chicago Area

    Happy Friday, Lawrence! Book trailers are definitely another tool for authors to add to their promotional program. Let us know if you do some so we can see how you've used them. Thanks for stopping by and have a great weekend!

  • lawrence01 profile image

    Lawrence Hebb 22 months ago from Hamilton, New Zealand


    Some really good information here for the future. I'll be coming back when it's ready for promotion.


  • heidithorne profile image

    Heidi Thorne 23 months ago from Chicago Area

    Great to hear that you've liked using video book trailers! They can be a great tool. We'll watch for your new post featuring them. Thanks so much for sharing your trailer experience with us! Have a great day!

  • Homeplace Series profile image

    William Leverne Smith 23 months ago from Hollister, MO

    I have a trailer for my first novel and my most recent novel. It is available on each of my HubPages, if you want to check it out. I'm very pleased with them. I have no way of gauging usefulness, but it is an effective marketing tool, I believe. Thank you for another useful hub! ;-)

    BTW, interesting timing, my blog post this Friday, tomorrow, features both of my Video Book Trailers. [thehomeplaceseried(dot)blogspot(dot)com ;-)

  • Kristen Howe profile image

    Kristen Howe 23 months ago from Northeast Ohio

    Hi Heidi. I guess not. I agree. There was only about 5 people, plus the conference administrator and me. Though I have yet to try to do one of my own someday. My pleasure!

  • heidithorne profile image

    Heidi Thorne 23 months ago from Chicago Area

    Hi Kristen! Surprising that not many people attended the book trailer session. Hmm... I'm guessing they just didn't realize what it was. It's such an exciting new tool for authors and publishers! Thanks for chiming in and have a terrific day!

  • heidithorne profile image

    Heidi Thorne 23 months ago from Chicago Area

    Don't feel bad, billybuc, as I'm writing the hub, I realized that I didn't do these for my two last books either. We both have to catch up! :) Thanks for stopping by and we'll be looking for your new trailers!

  • heidithorne profile image

    Heidi Thorne 23 months ago from Chicago Area

    FlourishAnyway, yes, a sample chapter (or the "read a sample" on Amazon Kindle) is a useful promotion tactic for books and ebooks. I've also bought based on my "tasting sample" experience. Thanks for adding that additional tip to the conversation. Enjoy your day!

  • heidithorne profile image

    Heidi Thorne 23 months ago from Chicago Area

    No worries, Dr. Middlebrook! I'm in marketing, too, and often have to have that "walk the talk" talk with myself. :) Glad to hear you're using trailers for your work. I think they are useful. Thanks for stopping by and have a lovely day!

  • Kristen Howe profile image

    Kristen Howe 23 months ago from Northeast Ohio

    Heidi, great hub! This is so informational on how to do it. I took a book trailer class last fall at my local full day conference, though not many people attended the session. I still have my notes and will do at hub for that this spring. Great tips on how to do it effectively!

  • billybuc profile image

    Bill Holland 23 months ago from Olympia, WA

    I actually did one for my second novel, Resurrecting Tobias...they are very useful. The funny thing is, I forgot all about them for my next two novels....DUH!!!!!

    Thank you...seriously!

  • FlourishAnyway profile image

    FlourishAnyway 23 months ago from USA

    What a smart idea! I've seen the concept used in written format by providing a first chapter to the the next book and leaving the reader wanting more. I've bought books based on those.

  • profile image

    drmiddlebrook 23 months ago

    Heidithorne, you've done a great job with this. I'm making trailers for my books, and I'm using some of the tactics you included in this Hub. Marketing is my career field, but I often find it's sort of like being a hairdresser--your own hair often gets neglected because you're too busy making other people's hair look fetching! Marketing is the great challenge we face, as authors, after we've conquered the great challenge of writing the book! Thanks again for so much great information!