Arts & Culture

How to Make a Book Trailer

Last year, I shot my first (but hopefully not my last!) book trailer for my anthology Spanked: Red-Cheeked Erotica. One common question I get is…what’s a book trailer? Well, it’s like a movie trailer, but for a book, and in … Read More

By / January 6, 2009

Last year, I shot my first (but hopefully not my last!) book trailer for my anthology Spanked: Red-Cheeked Erotica.

One common question I get is…what’s a book trailer?

Well, it’s like a movie trailer, but for a book, and in some ways, even more ingenious. Movies have way more buzz around them than books; it’s likely that even if you never plan to see, say, Revolutionary Road, you’ve heard about it, but not so much with books.

So book trailers are a way for authors to spread the word about their books using blogs, YouTube, and other video sharing sites.

I hired a friend of mine who I’d known from her own comedic videos for $500; that was the total budget for our shoot, and quite a bargain in the world of book trailers, I learned.

I had a few friends come over to a friend’s place one afternoon, and we proceeded to "act out" a few key scenes from the book.

Once concern I had is that even though my book is full of X-rated stories, I didn’t want my trailer to be. I was aiming for light, positive, fun, with a hint of naughtiness. My main goal in making the trailer was to let people who might otherwise never hear of a book like Spanked to know it existed. From there, they could go to the book’s blog and read story samples, or just keep watching the trailer.

We did some voiceovers and there was lots of giggling as we tried to come up with a variety of implements that I would get spanked with. In large part, it was an experiment, to see what would happen (I will soon find out if it paid off in sales, though that’s not the only reason to make one). The final product was one I was really pleased with. I got to get my personality across, tease the reader with the content of the book, and hopefully make them want to find out more about it. I also like that the one word that came up again and again in reactions to the book was "cute." That’s what I was going for. (Sorry, I’m not as smart as the fabulous Molly Crabapple and can’t figure out how to atually add the video here, but you can see it on YouTube.)

Reasons to make a book trailer: 1. To spread the word about your book, especially to those who don’t tend to buy books 2. To let you introduce yourself to your audience in ways type simply can’t 3. To have multimedia work samples on your website 4. Others can easily post it on their sites. 5. Because it’s fun!

What happened after we released the trailer was an unexpected bonus. My director uploaded it to four sites: Flickr, Vimeo, YouTube, and Blip. Within hours, Flickr had taken it down, and then Vimeo did the same, providing me with very little feedback. They claim they don’t allow commercial materials, yet if you look up book trailers on Vimeo, there are plenty there. There is no nudity in my trailer, and no cursing.

The story about Vimeo removing my video got me some bonus press, from Silicon Alley Insider and gossip site Jossip. I managed to meet my goal in totally unexpected ways! It’s now been viewed over 80,000 times on YouTube, which I consider a huge success.

Very soon, I plan to shoot new trailers, one in a hotel room for my hotel erotica book Do Not Disturb, and one, if I can find one to rent, on a private plane, for The Mile High Club. Neither will have nudity, but both will hopefully give a hint of what kind of material is in my book.

Based on my experience, I recommend hiring someone who knows what they’re doing, who’s good at troubleshooting, and understands your vision. Set a budget in advance, and if you’re working with a tiny budget, make sure you get your money’s worth. While some companies charge upwards of $5,000 or more, you can make your own. Poke around on YouTube or sites like Watch the Book or Book Trailers, or just use Google, to see a sample of what’s out there. As a reader, it can be fun to watch a book’s trailer after you’ve finished reading, to add to the reading experience. Book trailers should be short, to best capture the reader’s attention. Another one I really loved is for my friend Samara O’Shea’s Note to Self, about keeping a journal; she got her ex-boyfriend, who she writes about in the book (he found her journal chronicling her affair), to be in it!

You can watch’s Samara’s trailer here.


Rachel Kramer Bussel, author of Spanked: Red-Cheeked Erotica, is guest blogging on Jewcy, and she’ll be here all week. Stay tuned.