What is a Book Trailer?

Before you can create a book trailer, you need to understand what a book trailer is.

Here are the four elements of a book trailer and the order in which they usually appear.

  • Lead – Grab the audience – Answer the viewer’s question: Why should I give you 30 seconds of my time?
  • Excite – Build interest – Why should I continue to listen/watch?
  • Amaze – Hook – Why is this book different?
  • Direct – Directive – How do I learn more or buy?

Not all book trailers have this structure, but most effective trailers do.


Book trailers are typically about 1:00 minute in length, but there are successful trailers ranging from seven seconds to over 25 minutes. There is no cost difference in putting a longer trailer on the web; both are free. The challenge is keeping the viewer interested and engaged.

Viewing on the web

Assuming the trailer is hosted on YouTube, a viewer could watch it on the YouTube site or embedded in another website such as the author’s or publisher’s page. When a video is viewed on YouTube, it is surrounded with thumbnails and click bait for other videos, so abandoning your trailer for a video of ‘kittens and puppies’ is just a click away. Your viewers may be scanning the lists of other videos while yours is playing. If you don’t grab and hold their interest, they are gone.


The goal of a book trailer is to get the viewer to visit the book website for more details or to purchase the book. A book trailer for a popular title may pitch more directly to buy the book. 

Tip: As the goal of a book trailer is to have the viewer visit the website, it is important to show the web address in the last part of the trailer, as well as provide a link in the description in YouTube. After viewing the video, if the viewer wants to visit the website, you have a better chance if they only have to click a link versus typing an address into a browser.

A Book Trailer is NOT

A book trailer is not a plot synopsis. It does not go past the first act of the book. A book trailer NEVER has plot spoilers in it.