Book Trailers Work!
Dollar for dollar, a good book trailer is a better investment than a print ad.
Smart authors know they must invest their own time--and yes, their own
Published on LatinoLA: June 6, 2009
money--in marketing their books. Most writers assume hiring a publicist
will do the trick, but a traditional publicity campaign is unlikely to make
your book stand out amidst the thousands of others also vying for the
attention of the media and readers. One nontraditional tool worth
investigating is the book trailer. An example of a successful book trailer
is for Yiddish with Dick and Jane by Ellis Weiner and Barbara Davilman:
The book trailer had over two million viewings and resulted in sales of
the book quadrupling. Dollar for dollar, a good book trailer is a better
investment than a print ad. To learn more, read this month's Q&A with
Sister Outsider Entertainment founders Elisha Miranda and Sofia Quintero.
Elisha Miranda and Sofia Quintero (pictured) are the founders of Sister Outsider
Entertainment, a multimedia production company that develops projects
for television, film, and stage including the Internet series Sangria Street
and the off-Broadway production of Pandora's. Elisha's feature film script
Outside the Wall won the Tribeca All Access Award, the Outfest
Screenwriting Competition, a Sundance Feature Filmmaking Finalist, a
Voy Picture Lab Finalist, and a NALIP Director's Lab Fellow. Sofia's
feature-length screenplay Interstates won the San Francisco Black Film
Festival screenplay competition, the Montage Entertainment Diversity in
Screenwriting contest, and was twice a finalist for the screenwriting lab
at Sundance. For more information, visit http://www.sisteroutsider.biz
Q: What kinds of books best lend themselves for adaptation into a book trailer?
A: With creativity and planning, any book can be translated into a trailer, but
of course, fiction lends itself best. Regardless of the genre or topic, the
first step in creating a trailer is preparing a script. Because we ourselves are
both novelists and screenwriters, we have the skill and talent to translate the
essence of your story into a visually stunning multimedia experience. Does
this mean that we are adapting your book into a short film? No, because,
believe it or not, that's not what you want. You want a video advertisement
for your book that people should watch it and say, "I have to read that book
now" not "Wow, can't wait to see that movie."
Q: When is the ideal time for authors to contact you in order to have a
book trailer ready by the publication date of the book?
A: It is never too early to start socking away money to promote your book
regardless of the ways you decide to do it. Once you have a strong draft of
your book, we can begin writing the script to prepare for the production of
its promotional video. Since we ourselves are working authors and filmmakers,
we recommend that clients contact us a year before their tentative release
date to get on our calendar. At minimum, give yourself three to six months
before your release to viral your trailer on the web and drum up speaking
engagements and book signings. You want to build anticipation and increase
sales. But if you just found out about this promotional tool and your release
date is next week, call us. We'll see if and what we can do for you.
Q: How closely do you work with authors when creating a book trailer?
How much input should they expect to offer?
A: As authors, we respect our fellow authors, and we would never sacrifice
the story for the image or vice versa. Not all filmmakers are capable or
willing to do that. We also know that in today's publishing industry, authors
have to invest as much time and energy into promoting their books as they
do writing them. Sister Outsider gives clients three opportunities to review
the script and provide feedback on the video's rough cut to ensure that they
Q: How many minutes in length do you recommend a book trailer should be?
A: An effective trailer should be no more than three minutes, and less is
best. Most amateur trailers are too long. Viewers either stop watching before
it's done or decide they don't need to buy the book after all!
Q: What specific advice would you offer to authors who are considering
hiring someone to make a book trailer of their work?
A: If you're going to make the investment of producing a trailer, then it's
critical that you hire professionals and allow us to use our expertise to help
you. We are thrilled that increasingly more authors are adopting a multimedia
promotional strategy, but the average author doesn't understand the level of
time and talent required to make an effective visual representation of their
work that will generate sales. You know that feeling you get when, after
months or even years over toiling over your book to make it the best it can
be, someone quips, "You know, I think I'll write a book, too" as if it's the
easiest thing in the world? Well, that's how we feel when someone who
wants a trailer that looks like something they might see in a movie theater
says, "But I'm not willing to pay a cent over $500." Sure, you can save tons
by having a friend or relative make it for you, but you also run a very high
risk of having a video spoiled by poor acting, blurry camera work and
choppy editing that will leave viewers wondering if your book is just as
unprofessional. At Sister Outsider, you get what you pay for--a
professional cast and crew. Even a bare-bones production involves
trained and experienced actors, screenwriter, director, cinematographer
(camera person), gaffer, sound person, and editor. There are hours of
pre-production--from scripting to rehearsing and other steps in
between--before we even start shooting, and post-production--
assembling the footage, adding the music, adjusting the sound, etc.--
takes at least forty hours. That said, we also remember what it's like to
just break into both the publishing and film industries, which is why Sister
Outsider has several options to fit a range of budgets, and we are very
forthcoming about what each package buys you.
But if you're intent on going your own way, we still want to support you.
E-mail us your first and last name at firstname.lastname@example.org and ask for
our free PDF 10 Signs of an Amateur Book Trailer. Mention that you read
about us in Latinidad, and we'll throw in 5 Tips for a SIZZING Trailer. At the
very least, read these two documents before you start.
Marcela Landres is the author of the e-book How Editors Think. She is an Editorial Consultant who specializes in helping Latinos get published and was formerly an editor at Simon & Schuster.
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