Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Book video (trailer) tips for authors

Many authors use promotional videos (book trailers), usually posted on YouTube. Some readers are impressed. Others never watch videos. Authors are divided about the effectiveness of videos. You can make your own video or hire another person or a production company to do the work. You can spend thousands or nothing -- but have a good one! 

If you're a beginner and think you must have a video, but have a tiny budget, keep it simple. You are not competing for an Oscar in directing, sound effects, lighting or cinematography.
  1. View a lot of videos, particularly collections of best and worst videos. I'll talk about some bad ones tomorrow.
  2. Watch news broadcasts and study the professional "talking heads."
  3. Come up with one important point you want to be remembered, and stress it.
  4. Some videos are all-text, like a PowerPoint presentation. People are more interesting to look at, and more memorable. 
  5. Sit on a comfortable chair in front of a simple background. Inspect the background carefully. Don't appear to have a flower pot on your head. If you hang up a sheet behind you, make sure it has no wrinkles or creases. If you are entertaining, you can be effective against a plain, white background. See Old Jews Telling Jokes for some good examples.
  6. If you sit, don't slouch.
  7. Don't play with your hair, rub your chin, scratch an itch, chew on a pencil or shake papers like Rush Limbaugh.
  8. Don't touch the microphone.
  9. It's OK to stand, but don't pace or rock.
  10. Make sure the temperature is comfortable. Don't let viewers see you sweat or shiver.
  11. Don't let them see you cough, sneeze, burp or yawn, either.
  12. Speak as if your are talking to one person, not delivering an inaugural speech. Make sure your name and book title are intelligible.
  13. Control your hands -- no unintentional flailing, fidgeting or thumping. A couple of deliberate thumps may be OK.
  14. Make sure you display your book, even a fake cover of an ebook.
  15. Tell where it is available.
  16. You can show a link for a website, too.
  17. Avoid distracting ambient sounds. Close doors and windows.
  18. It's difficult to control sounds outdoors.
  19. It can be nice to have appropriate music in the background. Don't steal the music.
  20. Wear attractive, non-distracting clothing and jewelry.
  21. Don't display your tattoos unless they relate to the book. 
  22. Make sure there are no dark shadows on your face unless you want to look sinister.
  23. Make sure there are no reflections from eyeglasses or jewelry.
  24. Clean the crap off your desk or table.
  25. Wash your face and comb or brush your hair (unless you strive for a disheveled look).
  26. Don't read from a script. Rehearse, rehearse, rehearse. Try to avoid the need for editing. 
  27. Try to limit the running time to about 60 - 90 seconds. The shorter the video the better your chance of getting it right.
  28. If you're using a camera attached to your computer monitor, make sure the angle makes you look nice. Don't let potential readers focus on your bald head or wrinkled neck.
  29. If you're using a camcorder, put it on a tripod.
  30. Consider makeup to cover bad blemishes.
  31. Don't overdo makeup.
  32. Consider an interview format, or a dialog between co-authors. 
  33. Speak towards the camera, but don't freeze into one position. It's OK to move your head a little. 
  34. Invest $10 - $100 in a microphone that will pick up your voice better than one attached to your monitor or camcorder.
  35. If you're not comfortable on-camera, maybe a friend can be your alter-ego.
  36. If you are not a natural comedian, don't force yourself to be funny.
  37. The objective of the video is to sell your books, not yourself.
  38. Don't yell or whisper. If you have laryngitis, wait until you're better.
  39. Don't tell people to buy your book. Make them want to buy it.
  40. It's OK to read brief excerpts from reviews. If you've won awards or achieved bestseller status, say so.
  41. Have several critical friends view the video before it goes online.
  42. Once it's online, delay announcing it for a few days until you are sure there are no major errors.
  43. It's better to publish a pretty good video soon than to wait months for an excellent video. You can always edit and enhance your first video, or make entirely new ones.
Here's a pleasant, convincing trailer where the narrator is never on-screen. The book is the star. The transitions are too cute and the video could afford to lose 15 seconds or more, so I'll give it a B-plus.

No comments:

Post a Comment