What is it about your favorite movie trailer that makes you want to see the movie? Is it who’s starring in it? Is it the danger or suspense that makes your arms feel all prickly? Is it the laugh-out-loud dialogue between co-stars? Or, is it a promised escape into another world (I see you Avatar and Dune)?
In case you didn’t know that book trailers are a thing, they are, and this post will take a look at some of the best book trailers currently online.
So, why book trailers? Because they can have just as much impact on the sale of your book as movie trailers do for the “it” star or movie franchise of the moment. And sometimes, they can even look like movie trailers, with full sets, actors, and dialogue. Or, they can take a more subtle approach with illustration and stylization.
- Related: How to Make a Book Trailer: 4 Must-Haves
- Related: How to Make Awesome Book Trailers (and WHY!)
The book publishing space is crowded. If you want your book to get noticed, book trailers are a great way to set your book apart from the masses; however, a book’s trailer is a lot like its cover. If you do it right, then you’ll pull potential readers in. But, if it looks unprofessional and misses the mark, a great book can end up in the “slush pile” of your ideal reader.
Book trailers will vary in style depending on your genre and reader demographics, but they all have the same goal—get your book noticed! The most impactful trailers include some form of the following:
- A hook at the beginning, whether that’s an impactful image, quote, or piece of music.
- A hook at the end that functions as a question to the reader, that ideally can only be answered by reading the book.
Below we’ll look at ten of the best book trailers and what they do well.
Let’s Take a Look at the Following:
Let’s get started!
What Makes a Great Book Trailer?
Just like a great movie trailer, a strong book trailer will engage the viewer, spark interest in the book, and motivate them to purchase it or at the least find out more. To do this, the trailer must be professional, timely, inviting, and represent the book well.
Adding a book trailer to your book’s marketing strategy is an extra layer between the buyer and the book. For most books, the book cover begins the story, but if you use a book trailer, then that’s where your story begins. This is why any ‘ol trailer won’t do. If you have a boring, unprofessional trailer that looks homemade, automated (be careful when using AI), or uninspiring, your book trailer can do more harm to your book sales than good.
10 Best Book Trailers
1. Gone Outlaw
“Gone Outlaw is the story of Dinah Hance, a woman haunted by the death of her childhood best friend and later her father by the infamous outlaw Sal Valentin. It’s a story about her family, hard choices, and what happens when an unexpected twist of circumstances knocks on her door.”
I reached out to the author, Madison Thames, to ask her about her unique book trailer. She was gracious enough to share her thoughts below.
Q: From your book launch announcement video, I’m assuming that Gone Outlaw is your first book. Many first-time authors forgo many of the “extras” of book launches (like book trailers) because they just want to get their book out. Why did you feel that a book trailer was important?
A: Presentation is important for any book, but it’s especially crucial for self-published books. There’s a stigma that many people still have about self-publishing, a skepticism about the quality of the product. A well-made trailer shows prospective readers that you take your craft seriously and presents your work in a professional, compelling way that sparks interest in your book.
Q: Unlike many book trailers in your genre, you chose animation over a live-action interpretation.
- What do you call this animation style, and why did you select it?
- You’re an artist. Did you create the trailer yourself or hire someone?
- Who did the trailer narration?
A: Because I’m not only an author but also an artist, I had the unique opportunity to create my own artwork for the trailer. With live action comes budget constraints and other limitations, but by using digital illustrations instead, I could portray my characters and settings exactly as I imagined them without breaking the bank. My cousin Karen Ballew is a singer and songwriter living in Nashville, Tennessee. She wrote and recorded the music for the trailer, and her husband Brad Ballew animated my artwork and edited the scenes together with all the additional sound effects. Through Voices.com, I found two wonderful actors to narrate the trailer, Jessica Rookeward playing the part of Dinah and Michael Kaplan voicing Joseph.
Q: If you had any advice for first-time authors on the fence about using a book trailer for their books, what would it be?
A: Your book summary uses words to tell readers about your story’s plot and characters, but a trailer uses striking visuals, music, and narration to show the audience how your story feels, bringing it to life in a way that words alone can’t. Trailers get us excited about upcoming movies and streaming series. Many of us don’t watch them without first watching the trailer. We want to have an idea of what we’re in for before we engage with the material. In the same way, book trailers are a powerful opportunity to reach your target audience and get them excited to buy your book before it releases.
Outside-the-box thinking is what makes Madison K. Thames’ book trailer for her debut novel Gone Outlaw so engaging. It’s an excellent example of how to infuse personality and character to connect with existing fans and compel potential buyers to take a closer look.
2. The Good Egg
The Good Egg By Jory John, Illustrated by Pete Oswald is a children’s book intended for kids ages 4-8. It follows the main character, a Good Egg, as he tries to be the perfect egg despite the shenanigans of the bad eggs all around him.
The trailer is fun, whimsical, and everything a trailer for the intended age group should be. The animated trailer offers a visual summary of what readers can expect from the book while offering high entertainment value in the process.
Traitors Among Us by Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch follows Ukrainian sisters Krystia and Maria who’ve been displaced after World War II. Just when they think they’ve escaped the horrors of the war, they are accused of being traitors and subjected to interrogation by the Soviets. This book tells the story of sisters who must prove their innocence or escape to save their lives.
This trailer’s biggest strength is its atmosphere. By giving the audience a visual representation of the book’s setting, potential readers are pulled into the tension of the story and transported to another place and time.
The book is geared toward 8-12 year olds. It bridges the gap between some of the simpler animated book trailers for younger readers while remaining age-appropriate for the subject matter.
The memoir I’m Lize Hayes explores the career highlights and life of Australian Journalist Liz Hayes best known for co-hosting the Channel 9 show Today as well as offering her journalistic expertise on 60 Minutes.
Unlike most book trailers that offer a snapshot of the book’s content, Liz Hayes’ book trailer takes a different approach by sharing an “unscripted” interview of the author. It’s raw, entertaining, and personal which is what every memoir should be.
This is an excellent example of high production value paying off. This trailer is not only pleasing for someone who’s already excited about the book, but it’s going to hook people who aren’t familiar with the author and her work.
5. Displacement City
When it comes to book trailers, engaging the viewer so that they’ll be interested in reading the book is the end goal. While fiction books tend to offer more creative flexibility when creating a book’s trailer, nonfiction book trailers are more straight and to the point. This is not to say that creativity doesn’t play a part in the overall strategy to get readers interested, but when sharing real stories, walking a clear line so that readers know what to expect is an important part of creating a successful nonfiction book trailer.
In Displacement City authors Greg Cook and Cathy Crowe give readers a front-row seat to the impact of COVID-19 on frontline workers, advocates, and those living without a home in Toronto, Canada. The book’s description describes the book this way.
The book uses prose, poetry, and photography to document lived experiences of homelessness, responses to the housing crisis, efforts to fight back for homes, and possible solutions to move Toronto forward. Contributors provide particular insight into policies affecting Indigenous peoples and how the legacy of colonialism and displacement reached a critical point during the pandemic.
In this 1-minute trailer, viewers are given a brief glimpse into the heartfelt stories that create the framework for the book.
The reel of images taken during the pandemic along with narration offer a vivid reminder of what the world was like when everything shut down for a season. It’s hard not to be drawn into something familiar, even if your level of impact is not the same. The book trailer does a great job of creating a welcoming space for viewers to share in the experience.
Being Baxters is the 5th installment of the Baxter Family Children’s series written by Karen Kingsly. In it, the author explores the themes of family, sibling relationships, and the challenges of growing up.
One Amazon reviewer said, “Excellent read for ages 9-99!” and another commented, “I love this series of books. It helps me to see how the Baxter kids came to be the adults they are in later books.”
With such high praise, it’s clear that Karen Kingsly has figured out the secret sauce for bridging her books and appealing to a wide demographic. While the book trailer doesn’t give too much away, it’s clear from the scenes depicted that the book is geared toward a younger audience or those who are young at heart. The best book trailers aren’t always the ones that provide a synopsis. In the case of Being Baxters, sometimes a whisper of the book’s essence is enough.
7. Glass Sword
It’s interesting to note how different authors handle series trailers. The previous trailer for the Karen Kingsly book felt like a carry-over or a reminder of what the series was about. If you were already familiar with the previous books, then the extra details were not necessary. However, in the case of The Glass Sword: Kneel or Bleed by Victoria Aveyard, they’ve chosen to build the tension of this coming-of-age fantasy with a provocative voice-over narration from the main character against a dark and mysterious background setting that leaves many questions unanswered.
The best book trailers tease a question that only by opening the book and reading it yourself will the answers be revealed.
At 16-24 seconds each, most of James Patterson’s book trailers are over before they get started, but when you’re a well-known author with an established following, you don’t have to do a lot of flips and cartwheels to get attention. Your credibility as a writer lays the groundwork.
In James Patterson’s case, many of his book trailers are more announcements than they are theatrical presentations, but in Alex Cross Must Die: “One Target” we get a combination of the two—a visually engaging build-up of tension that’s cut short right when you ask the question, “What happens?”
Patterson teases us just enough to get us excited about what could be hidden within the pages of his next story.
Before this trailer for Clarice the Brave by Lisa McMann starts, it’s hard to resist the cuteness of this little mouse looking off wistfully at the ship at sea.
Many of the best book trailers for children are high-quality, visually stunning animations. Kids love animated characters because they appeal to their imagination and transport them into new worlds often giving them a safe space to explore diverse topics and themes. This sweet trailer gives kids a jumping-off point to dive into an imaginary world unlike their own.
Beyond the visually captivating graphics, the sound of the boat rocking, the creek of the wooden boards and the crash of the waves all work together to transport the viewer into Clarice’s world. The trailer does a great job of presenting the story of a little mouse and her adventures at sea, but what the trailer leaves out makes the trailer even more engaging.
We wrap up this book trailer list with another example of a nonfiction book trailer done right. This one is from serial entrepreneur and founder of the Waze app, Ur Levine. In his book Fall in Love with the Problem, Not the Solution, he simplifies the process of building a start-up and takes entrepreneurs on a step-by-step journey to building a startup of their own.
In the trailer, the author talks about his purpose for creating value in the life of the entrepreneur, and he demonstrates what this looks like by using the book trailer as an open invitation to not only read the book but join a like-minded community that shares a common goal. It’s transparent, engaging and motivational—exactly what startups entrepreneurs need to keep them putting one foot in front of the other.
What’s Your Next Step?
Now that you have some examples of great book trailers, it’s time to take action.
Need to learn how to sell more copies of your book? Check out this free training from our friends at Self-Publishing School.