Picture This: A Quick Introduction to Book Trailers
by Rocky Lang
Films based on existing material have never been hotter. In 2006 more than 50 books were made into movies, and in 2007 more than 70 books hit the screen.
One way a small publisher and/or an author might get attention from Hollywood producers, agents, or executives is by using a book trailer. Movie trailers have been around since 1913, when Nils Granlund, the advertising manager for the Marcus Loew theater chain, produced a short promotional film for the musical The Pleasure Seekers. Before long, teasers and trailers were regularly made to create buzz for new movies, and now they can be used for marketing books.
Their appeal has a lot to do with saving time. As the Academy Award–winning director and producer Sydney Pollack once told me, “It’s hard to read a 500-page manuscript or a script from an unproduced writer, but if they send me a DVD or piece of their movie, I can watch it, and very often there is a very good idea there.” In other words, a book trailer might do more to spark interest in a movie version of a manuscript than the manuscript itself would.
Book trailers have other uses too. In today’s world, with its thirst for immediate information, writers and publishers are hiring companies such as Circle of Seven (COS) Productions and my firm (BooksToFilm.TV) to produce book trailers they can use on the Web, in connection with promotional events, and to email to agents, producers, reviewers, reporters, and other media people.
Trailers can be a way of featuring a particular book on a publisher’s own Web site or on an author’s site. They can be delivered to mobile phones and posted on YouTube for the entire world to see, with metatags and keywords that will make it easy for potential readers to find. They can be set up on monitors at book signings for customers to watch while they’re waiting on line for an author’s autograph. Compressed and embedded in emails, they can excite potential buyers.
With iPhones, BlackBerrys, and other gadgets, publishers and authors can carry their book trailers with them and pull them out at formal or chance meetings to make a pitch.
Estimates and Examples
For many years, I have used trailers, which I call Sizzle Reels, to sell books, stories, screenplays, and other forms of written work to Hollywood, sometimes through agents who represent the works.
The cost of producing a book trailer varies. A simple trailer—usually with the cover of the book, music, and text—might cost about $500. A sophisticated version, complete with dramatic recreations of scenes from the book as well as author interviews in a distribution packet, would probably cost about $10,000.
But even simple trailers can be great tools for attracting interest in a book. To see samples, visit bookstofilm.tv, cosproductions.com, and watchthebook.com.
Rocky Lang, who has been in the movie and television business for over 30 years, will be speaking at Publishing University about how his company, BooksToFilm.tv, synthesizes material for submission to Hollywood, and about how to create synopses and treatments to accompany book trailers and manuscripts and serve as both written and visual teasers. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.