Chip MacGregor

June 14, 2012

Thursdays with Amanda: The Rules for Book Trailers, Pitch Videos, and More


Amanda Luedeke Literary AgentAmanda Luedeke is a literary agent with MacGregor Literary. Every Thursday, she posts about growing your author platform. You can follow her on Twitter @amandaluedeke or join her Facebook group to stay current with her wheelings and dealings as an agent.

This topic was sparked by a question from Evangeline. She noticed on her own site that video clips and vlogs resulted in the most comments and interactions from fans/potential fans.

But what are the rules for putting together a great video post?

First of all, there are different kinds of ways that you can use video to promote yourself as an author.

  1. There’s the book trailer,
  2. There’s the pitch video,
  3. And there’s the vlog (video blog).

I’m sure there are other avenues, but these ones stand out to me as having the most potential. So let’s look at each in depth.

Book Trailers

We’ve all been to the movies. We’ve all seen movie trailers. Book trailers are no different. They’re 30-second advertisements for your book. They focus on the book’s hook and should connect the audience with no more than three characters (hero, heroine, villain). To get an idea of what a GREAT book trailer looks like, take a look at this one for Ally Condie’s Matched.

This one is quite a bit more high-tech than others, but even then, it’s simplistic in that it doesn’t use live-action scenes. It uses catchy design techniques to create a sophisticated look.

Here’s another one, this time by my author, Conlan Brown:

Conlan made that one on his own. Granted, he’s educated in film-making, but still…

If you don’t trust your trailer-making abilities, you may want to consider hitting up the local college. For a few hundred dollars, I’m sure you could employ a student to do your bidding.

Pitch Videos

Pitch videos are 1-2 minute videos that can be used when pitching your book to an agent or editor. A few of my authors have employed this technique, and I see it as a great way to help your audience feel comfortable with you and get interest in your project.

Your pitch video should include information about you and your story. It doesn’t have to be polished or perfect, either. Stock photography and obviously-scripted lines are ok. Here’s a look at the pitch video my author, Jill Williamson, put together when we approached Zondervan with her book (now entitled Replication):


As an author in the 21st century, it’s important to connect with your readers. Video blogs are ways in which you can break out of the samey-same blog mold and provide something different. The rules for these are similar to blogging rules:

  • Stay on topic
  • Keep the focus off of the writing craft and on your genre, comparative books, topics that would interest your readers, etc.
  • Think about the visual/auditory experience. There should be a reason you’re vlogging and not blogging. Your content needs to have some sort of visual or auditory payoff for the viewer.
  • Have fun and be entertaining. This is essential, because people can’t skim through a video like they can a blog post. Once you lose them, they’re gone.
  • Keep it concise. We’re talking 2-minutes max. Beyond that, you start to lose people.

Not many authors are using vlogging, but I was able to dig up this gem from my author Clay Morgan (his book, Undead, releases this fall). It’s a bit long and it doesn’t have the views to back it up, but I think it’s a great example of an instance in which writing a blog post just wasn’t going to cut it…he had  to do a video, otherwise he’d lose the humor behind his idea. And consequently, he got to connect with his readers. That’s what great vlogging is made of, folks.

So there you have it! Any questions or insight on using video? Which of these options sounds most do-able?

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  • evangelinedenmark says:

    So I’m late to the party, but I wanted to chime in anyway. Thanks for sharing these great examples. I especially liked Jill Williamson’s because it felt like a conversation with her. It was relaxed and relational and had me thinking, “Yeah, I could do something like that.”

    I smiled when you mentioned contacting your local college for people interested in making videos. I just had a conversation with a young animator whose work was fantastic. He said most people like himself are looking for opportunities and experience. They’re hungry just like new authors. Lots of potential for beneficial partnerships there!

    I show my book trailer to anyone interested in what I’m writing (and sometimes to uninterested folks too.) It always generates comments like “Wow!” and “I want to read that!” and “I got goosebumps!” So, I definitely believe in the power of the visual tool when it comes to marketing.

  • Tiffany Amber Stockton says:

    Fantastic stuff, Amanda. Thanks for sharing. Book trailers are fairly new, and while the ROI hasn’t been confirmed to increase sales, they make for great entertainment and could get people talking.

    As for pitch videos or vlogs, you’d be surprised what readers would love to see from the authors they read. Same goes with editors and agents. I made my first sale because I sat down with an editor who liked making the face connection to the black & white proposal he had on his desk or in his inbox.

    We are created to connect…face to face. And if we can’t do that, video is the next best thing.

    • Amanda Luedeke says:

       You make a good point, Tiffany. Any book trailer needs a solid marketing plan behind it in order for it to do the book any good.

  • Lena says:

    Totally love the trailer for “the first born”. I think book trailers is a great idea. 

  • Thanks, Amanda. I’ve thought about doing some author vids. I’ve enjoyed those I’ve seen from Stephanie Meyer and others on how they got/developed the idea for stories, what they were thinking when writing, etc. Really appreciate your examples.

  • Chana Keefer says:

    Thanks!  I really enjoyed the “Adam Sandleresque” of Clay’s 12 Days of Christmas.  It’s good for authors to show that they can have personality as a real person too.  I’ve been advised to do vlogs but have given in to the intimidation monster.  I’ll take a gulp, breathe, and look into it again.


  • Karin Beery says:

    Thanks for the examples. I can’t imagine anyone wants to a watch a video of me talking, but this gives me a more realistic understanding of how writers can use these options.

  • Judith Robl says:

    Thank you for the perspective.  I’m such a “words on paper” person that I resent being trapped by a video and hadn’t really considered vlogging at all.  I do have a book trailer, completed by my friend, Patsy Terrell.

    Your post makes me rethink my position. May have to learn something new. But as my sainted grandmother used to say: “Youll never learn any younger.”

  • karenrobbins says:

    Great info and ideas! My head is spinning with the possibilities. Thanks!!

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