These days if I miss something funny or important that was on television I'll think to myself, “I'll look for it on YouTube. " This popular site has become so infused with our culture that it seems to have replaced television altogether as a resource for news and entertainment. In today's short-attention, quick-fix society, one needs only to visit YouTube for a three-minute visual rundown of a hit movie, or to catch up on homegrown, underground soap operas created and filmed by regular people with the time and the chutzpah. With Google's recent acquisition of YouTube for over one billion dollars, it goes without saying that this site will prove to be a media powerhouse in the future.
Because YouTube is essentially built by registered members who contribute their own video content, it should also be noted that authors can take advantage of the site's popularity and usability to increase their own exposure. Lately, I have noticed authors creating “trailers" to advertise their books and using YouTube for distribution. It may take a bit of work to figure out how to do so, but using YouTube to promote your books can propel an effective word of mouth campaign that draws readers to your book.
YouTube adds dynamic multimedia to your website. One factor that makes YouTube so popular is the ease with which visitors can share favorite videos. Send-to-a-friend links allow one to alert family and friends to must-see clip, while special EMBED HTML code offered by YouTube allows bloggers and site owners to implement videos on their own pages. As YouTube hosts the video, there is no unneccesary uploading of large files to your site. By hosting a book trailer on YouTube, you allow other users to apply codes and showcase your videos throughout the Internet, thereby lending a creative, free advertising campaign for your work.
YouTube enhances the message of your book. While you may offer a compelling blurb, glowing reviews, and attractive cover art on your site, sometimes readers need more to be convinced to make the purchase. Offering a well-designed book trailer for consideration gives your book the star treatment. Mood music, attractive imagery and taglines that sell draw the reader into the short clip and entice them in wanting to learn more about what you have written. Movie companies have drawn many a film buff to the theater based on sixty seconds of a film's premise. It is effective advertising that drives traffic and builds readership.
There are, of course, caveats to consider when thinking of creating a book trailer. For one, major media companies are very vigilant of sites like YouTube, looking out for copyrighted material used for illegal purposes. If you are seriously interested in creating a book trailer for promotional purposes, you want to be certain any music clips and images used are either in the public domain, acquired through royalty-free databases, or acquired for use with the permission of the copyright holders. While you might not think it significant to use something for thirty seconds of streaming video, there is always the risk of being caught by somebody who recognizes a picture or melody. Before you begin your book trailer, make sure all materials are okay to use.
For imagery related to the subject of your book - be it romance or science fiction, a biography or self-help, there are a number of royalty-free photoggraph databases that offer thousands of images to represent every emotion and setting you wish to realize. Istockphoto.com is one such resource, where pictures can be bought for as little as one dollar. For royalty-free music, the aptly named RoyaltyFreeMusic.com may prove to offer the sound you want to accompany your work. If you are feeling especially daring, you might want to consider approaching a band for a sample clip to use. A quick search on MySpace, for example, yields a good number of musicians using the Internet to promote their music. A promotional exchange (their credits in your trailer for use of their music) may prove to be beneficial, and can improve word of mouth on your trailer as the group advertises where to find their music.
Making the Video
If you own a PC, you will more than likely find it is equipped with a program called Windows Movie Maker. This nifty tool allows you to combine photographs and streaming audio, and add titles and taglines to the frames that make up your video. Taking the time to explore options and like frame transitions (including star wipes and side wipes) and visual effects (fade in, fade out, sepia tone applications) will allow to create a look unique to your story. Start with an attention-grabbing tagline, continue with imagery related to your story, adding taglines on photos where appropriate, and finish with a shot of your book cover and information on your website and where to purchase the book. Scrolling end titles completes the trailer, and before you know it you have a clip to add to YouTube!
Most book trailers may run anywhere from thirty second to two minutes. You don't want to make the trailers too long. For one the longer a clip is, the more memory it takes up, and the longer it may take to load. A viewer who has to wait too long will eventually get frustrated and go to another clip. You want to be sure your book trailer is recorded at a length that allows computer users of all Internet speeds to enjoy. Also, you don't want to give too much information away in your trailer. Tease pertinent information and entice the reader to learn more at the point of sale.
As an interactive marketing tool, book trailers created for YouTube are a creative and inexpensive way to get the word out about your book. Include the trailer on your website, and the URL in your e-mail signature and show readers exactly what they are missing unless they buy your book.
Kathryn Lively is the publisher of Phaze, romance novels in eBook and paperback. She offers book promotion advice for authors.