At first I was merely intrigued by this striking book trailer. Then completely mesmerized. Pretty soon I realised I was witnessing one of finest pieces of book promotion I’d ever seen, and yet, it was so simple.
Take a moment to watch it:
‘The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks’
Featuring Author Rebecca Skloot (2 minutes 30 seconds)
What Makes This Such A Great Book Trailer?
This video featuring the author, Rebecca Skloot, works so well because she tells the ‘story of her story’ and makes it deeply personal.
Rebecca has a burning belief that the whole world needs to know about Henrietta Lacks. That the whole world should hear the incredible story of this woman whose biological ‘cells’ have changed so many lives for the better, but who didn’t even consent to the cells being taken, and whose poverty-stricken family has never been compensated.
Rebecca’s passion for getting this incredible story out there burns like a flame behind every word she utters, and it’s the very act of showing this passion in the video that creates the huge buzz around the book.
She drew on a deep well of emotion over what she saw as a massive injustice to create both the bestselling book and it’s remarkable trailer.
“Her name was Henrietta Lacks, but scientists know her as HeLa. She was a poor black tobacco farmer whose cells—taken without her knowledge in 1951—became one of the most important tools in medicine, vital for developing the polio vaccine, cloning, gene mapping, in vitro fertilization, and more.
Henrietta’s cells have been bought and sold by the billions, yet she remains virtually unknown, and her family can’t afford health insurance.”
Writers wanting the secret of an effective book trailer need look no further than this author’s example. Forget bland text quotes drifting in and out over cheap still shots, that go on and on over a cheesy sound track. Book buyers simply won’t watch those any more.
Instead, it needs a human communication. Rebecca Skloot has nailed this perfectly, with a personal video presentation that’s very simple, intercut with low-cost stock video to dramatize the points.
(NB: Video footage for your trailer can be purchased at relatively low cost from online stock libraries. Shooting and assembling your video is a subject for another post, but it’s actually relatively easy with a flip-cam and a laptop – and there are plenty of people out there who can help you with this.)
But What If You Don’t Want To Appear In A Video Trailer?
I’m aware that most people don’t want to be in front of a camera. That’s ok, because you can get much of the same effect by recording an audio track to use over stock footage and slides – as long as the emotion, what you feel, shines through in that audio.
So present yours personally. The real author speaking. Focus on the emotional core underlying the main ‘cause’ or theme in your book, embodied by the crisis facing the main character, and build out a brief 2 minute script from there. Skloot’s book is dramatized fact, but the principle applies equally to fiction.
The solution is already in your book, if you take a moment to think about it. Why did you write this story? Start your script there. What is the story of your story? Were you stunned by an injustice and it ended up in your story? Are your main character’s experiences drawn from your own, maybe from childhood? This is what excites and intrigues readers.
Use The Book Trailer Where It Has The Greatest Effect
The first and most effective place to promote your trailer is on YouTube, as this will ensure as many readers see it as possible.
Next, you can add your video trailer to your Goodreads author profile page – this can set you apart from all the other authors on there, most of whom are not taking advantage of this. Amazon also allow you upload videos to Amazon Author Central – provided you stick to their rules.
Finally, make sure you embed the Youtube video trailer on your own author blog too. (You can even direct agents and publishers to it there, if you’re taking the traditional print publishing pathway – this will give you a huge advantage over most other authors seeking similar deals.)
Note: Rebecca Skloot also started her book promotional program several years before she launched. She made media and blogging contacts far and wide, and maintained contact with them all the way through. This is a large part of the reason for the success of her book.
Do you like Rebecca’s book trailer? Have any other ideas on how they should be done? Please do leave a comment below.
Article by Jonathan Gunson
Author / CEO Bestseller Labs