22 Mar 2017

5 Steps To Creating A Powerful Book Trailer

Guest Blogger: Samantha Wood

A couple of months after my novel, The Bay of Shadows was published, I started to think about making a book trailer. I did know from other authors that readers really like book trailers, and why wouldn’t they?

Online videos are pretty and punchy, and take only a couple of minutes of your time to watch! One of the main benefits, I think, is that it gets the message out to a wide audience in a short amount of time. People are busy. People are occupied with other things. A book trailer gives them an idea, a brief introduction to the story that they can go back to later when they have more time. And if it is something really dynamic and engaging to look at, all the better.

Around mid-2016 I’d seen a trailer for one of my favourite movies, Pan’s Labyrinth by Mexican director and visionary Guillermo del Toro, and while not exactly the same thing it had such a gothic, haunting beauty that I began to wonder if something similar might be possible for a book.

Fast forward to February 2017, and the video for The Bay of Shadows has taken pride of place on the home page of my website and I confess that my heart does a little leap of excitement seeing it there with the big red arrow for play. It really is something I’m so pleased with and below, I want to share with you the 5 key steps that I took in creating my book trailer.

  1. Determine The Video’s Purpose

The first stage was talking through the woolly idea I had in my head, because it is one thing to have a vision but another entirely to be able to share it with another person in a coherent way. To clarify the theme, we talked at length about why the video was important, and what I wanted to achieve with it.

  1. Find The Right Video Creators

The publishing process, for indie and traditionally published authors alike, really depends on the people you surround yourself with, the quality of the product, and making clear from the outset the goals you want to achieve. For me, it all started with my editing team, then working with amazing photographers, proof readers, designers, web developers, and other authors who gave me tips on marketing strategies, reader engagement, and most importantly how to stay sane throughout the process.

It was a little while later that I came across a Facebook video shot by my friend Mark Flores (founder of Falcon Creative) at Wentworth Falls. It really struck me, not only because it was so professional and beautifully shot, but mostly because it had such a picturesque quality – the way he’d captured the light, the movement of the water, the colour of the rocks – that it allowed the story to tell itself. This was exactly what I’d pictured in my imagination when I first envisioned the book trailer.

  1. Extract The Emotions

Apart from the main message, that is, what the book was about, the most important thing I wanted to convey was the emotion of the story. It is about the love between a mother and child, and the trials they go through to get their happily ever after. If I could get that across in the video then I would have achieved my goal.

There is a scene, probably a third of the way in, where a little boy running down a pier turns his face to the camera, and his expression is one of innocence and curiosity. It is probably my favourite part of the whole trailer because it captures the beauty of childhood, the emotion of the moment, and also a sense of movement. That element, as much as in the written novel, is what keeps the story moving forward and is so important to its telling. Then there’s the danger and tension, mystery and suspense.

  1. Visualize The Scene

In the opening scene of the first chapter of The Bay of Shadows, my main protagonist Elena runs up some wooden stairs at the beach. It was a scene that I’d written from personal experience, back in the days when I attempted to make running a part of my exercise routine. Sadly, it didn’t last long on account of my complete lack of technique and/or skill, but the memory of it stayed with me when I was writing the book. So much so that I imagined if I were to make a video or some other visual depiction, the scene would focus on a pair of feet in motion. It was, as mentioned above, part of the concept of ‘movement’ which is fundamental to storytelling.

  1. Don’t Fear Criticism & Share Away

I’m really good at putting words on paper but everything else not so much so confess to some trepidation prior to the trailer’s release. After all, with anything you do in publishing, there is always the fear that people might not like it. It turned out my fears were unfounded. The online video has been my most popular Facebook post to date, gathering over 1.4K views in the first 48 hours alone, and the YouTube views are growing steadily by the day.

And the lesson I learned from making the video? If you want to write books and make a name for yourself as an author, both at home and abroad, a high-quality book trailer is an absolute must.


About our guest blogger:

Samantha Wood was born in Victoria in 1971. Her first book, the memoir, Culua: My Other Life in Mexico was published in 2003 after extended visits to Mexico, and was essentially a love letter to her mother’s country.

Samantha graduated from Monash University in 2005 with a Master’s degree in Translation Studies (Spanish) focusing on the translations of Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s little-known children’s stories where angels crash landed in chicken coops and the world’s handsomest man washed ashore. It was this love of the magic of language and words that inspired the story for her first novel, The Bay of Shadows.

In 2007, she joined Ai-Media, a world-leading broadcast captioning service that provides access for the Deaf and hard of hearing. She lives in Melbourne, Australia.


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