How to use a book trailer to promote your book – and where to get a cheap one made.

Book trailers have become a staple in the publishing industry. Unfortunately they can costs hundreds or even thousands of dollars (for only 1 minute of video!). Do you really need a book trailer to promote your book? Where can you find high quality, low cost video production? What do you do with a book trailer once you’ve got one? Here are some tips.

1) Making the trailer. There are two ways to go. One is high quality, professionalism. Like a movie trailer from WB. These can be pretty expensive but stand out from the majority of book trailers (which are poorly done on windows movie maker). The other option is to keep it simple; video yourself talking about your book. It’s pretty easy. Don’t use special effects or text or anything.

If you can afford to pay at least a couple hundred bucks, you may want option one (I chose that one, more on that later). But option 2 can work. Several of the winners of the 2010 Moby Awards (given to the best and worst book trailers of the year) were spoofs, or somehow clever, witty responses to the whole concept of book marketing.

With a great idea, your book trailer could become popular (the trick is not to sell your book at all, but do something interesting, related to the theme or plot). Watch a couple hundred, and the examples from the Moby Awards, to get a clear idea of what you want and what you’re going to need to make it.

2) What to do with it? Here’s what I did: I paid a video submission site $100 to post my video all over the internet. Why it didn’t work: people looking for content won’t click through to a video site. And now, when people search for my book’s subject instead of finding my book they find dozens of video sites with repeat content. Not so great. Focus on YouTube. Once you’ve got it up on YouTube, you can add it to your website, share it with your friends and fans, and even post it on your amazon.com page (they allow customers to post a video review – upload your trailer! At the very least, upload a video of you holding and flipping through the book, so that they can see the details and quality.) How to get it seen: if you don’t use YouTube much, don’t have many friends or contacts, then your video won’t ever come up in searches. You’ll be invisible. Here’s a trick: Post your video as a “video response” (find it under the comments) to other videos in your topic. Be respectful: After you post your trailer as a response, send a polite message to the video’s uploader saying “Hope it’s OK I posted a video response. If you’d like to see the book you can get a free review copy here (online review copy).” Also friend/subscribe to them. Otherwise they might see it as spam and block your video.

Now, whenever anybody watches those other videos, your “video response” will come up right under the main video!

You can also submit your video for the 2011 Moby Awards – they’re accepting entries now for $5. http://www.mobyawards.com/ You want to either win or lose big. I’ve seen an author promoting his book as “Winner of the Moby Awards” when his book trailer won the “Least Likely to Sell Books” category.

Where to get quality cheap book trailer video production?

I used Elance and Freelancer to get bids from qualified professionals for a 1 minute book trailer for under $250. After checking hundreds, the following are the ones I liked best (3dtree did my book trailer, which is awesome).

If you’re looking for cheap, professional book trailer design and production services I recommend checking out the following websites to find a style you like, and then contact them saying what you need (under 1minute book trailer, around $250). These are not affiliate links, there’s no profit for me in recommending them, I just consider them to be an excellent resource for self-published authors.

The Best:
http://www.vimeo.com/user4056030 (usman-rafi@hotmail.com)

Lowest Price (Less than $150!):

Derek Murphy is the author of Jesus Potter Harry Christ.

  • I bought a Pump Up Your Book virtual tour. The deal included their making a trailer for my novel, which is now on YouTube. I like it. I can only suppose, at this point, it was worth the price.

    • You could be doing more with it – I couldn’t find it on your website or blog; it’s on youtube but if you don’t promote it, it won’t get seen. (You could post it as a video response to similar book trailers.) You could also find discussions/blogs about Auel’s novels online and comment on them – or at least review them on amazon (longer reviews get read more).

      Something else I should have mentioned in the article – put your URL as the first sentence in your youtube vid’s description. It will get seen above the fold and is clickable.

    • One more more – your kindle version has hyperlinks for the main characters names… it’s distracting. If you can, I’d remove them.

  • Derek, thank you very much. You’ve provided me with the kind of advice I need, and I’m going to take care of the things you mentioned as soon as I can, beginning now. I appreciate your taking the time to do what you did.

    • Another possible trick you could use: you’ve got an advantage since Auel’s new book is in amazon’s top 100. Every couple of days, go on amazon and buy a copy of her book and a copy of your book. You could encourage friends and family to do the same. It might cause amazon to recommend your book to all others looking to buy Auel’s (customers who bought this book also bought…etc). You could resell the books you buy, but it would be interesting to see if it bumps your sales. If it works, be sure to post an article about it.

  • I make my own in Photoshop. Purchase the photos from iStock or Dreamstime. Use the high quality output, and upload to my websites, Facebook, Youtube, Amazon, Smashwords, and other video websites. I purchase my own background music clips from iStockAudio. Costs me at $35 to make them. They’re not Oscar worthy, probably, but I get quite a few positive responses. I think if the message of the book is in the trailer and piques the interest of readers, it’s done it’s job. I seem to improve with time putting them together. I guess I prefer to put my money into editing and covers, as a matter of preference.



    Thanks for the tips though.

  • Your cover is beautiful – and yes it’s a good choice to put them first. I’m not really sure anybody needs a book trailer after all, and if money is tight, focus on editing and the cover. As someone who lived in Valletta for 3 years, I look forward to reading your book. 🙂 BTW you disabled the comments on youtube – it’s a safe way to avoid negative comments but it also limits your ability to interact with fans. If you want to get a lot of comments quickly, you can use “microworker” – I tested it out because my video looked lonely. I think I paid something like $20 for 100 glowing comments.

  • Fascinating post Derek, and an amazingly good site for a self-published book or for any book. I didn’t realise you could pay ‘microworkers’ $20 for a hundred favourable comments on YouTube. The shamefacedness of it is very amusing. Mind you, I think you were done, reading most of them it looks like you caught a slack day at the laundry in Azerbaijan.

  • Thanks again, Derek, for all your advice. I don’t seem to own my trailer/video yet (it’s complicated), but when I do, I’ll remember what you and Vicki have said. Vicki, I enjoyed your trailers. I’m quite certain I could never, on my own, make a trailer as attention-grabbing as yours. In the future, I’ll hire somebody on Derek’s list, or somebody equally qualified and reputable, to produce relatively inexpensive trailers for my books. The main point is that those people are out there, ready to do business with us. But if you can do it on your own for next to nothing, I say do it.

  • I have only put my first trailer up today and am yet to see the response but I feel it was worth it just for the experience.


    I used PowerDirector (less than $100). The images are my own, the music is free from a very generous man called Kevin MacLeod (look him up) and it was a blast to learn how to edit this all.

    I need to put some of your ideas into practice now, Derek. Thanks for a great post.

  • Hi,
    thank you for the information on this site.
    I have made a book trailer and used shutterstock film footage and royaltyfreeTV.com music. A total price of £69. Then I downloaded a free trail version of Final Cut Pro X, and two weeks later after a lot of patience using You Tube tutorials on how to edit I made this book trailer – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WtmtrP7TcRk
    I am going to take you advise regarding the comments, my video looks a little lonely.
    Thank you