Since 2009, I've created nearly 500 book video previews. That means I've worked with 500 authors who want to give their books the best possible push into the marketplace. Among those authors there are very different ideas of how to do this. And while I always work hard to give the author exactly the book video he or she desires, there are a few elements that I try to tactfully steer authors away from. The most predominant is the idea that a book video needs to include quotes from reviews.
Here is the number one most frequently asked question that I field from authors: Movie trailers use review quotes, why shouldn't books? Yes, movie trailers often do use quotes, but there are three distinct differences.
1. Quotes on movie trailers are short--one to three words at most. They will say "Brilliant performance!" or "Oscar worthy!" Quotes for books tend to be more verbose and take too much time to read on the screen to make them interesting. When a trailer is only 60 seconds long, leaving a quote onscreen for 12-15 seconds so it can be read means that the quote is taking up nearly a quarter of the video. This defeats the purpose of making a video hook in the first place. Videos should be a visual experience that tap into emotions first and intellect second.
2. Movie quotes are often by celebrities with the power to sway opinions. Book quotes tend to be from other authors or reviewers with no name recognition. Now, I have nothing against book reviewers, being one myself. But lets face it, no one would really care if I thought a book was "Brilliant" or "Pulitzer Prize worthy." The power of book reviews comes from their in-depth honesty, not from two-word buzz lines. So even shorter quotes have limited impact in a book preview.
3. Movie trailers are most often seen on a big screen where text stands out. Book previews are most often viewed on a small screen, sometimes no bigger than 3x4 inches. This makes text hard to read. Even for non-quote text, I try to keep it short, like a headline so that it can be read instantly. Keep your video preview dynamic and visual. Use images and music to convey the tone and content as much as possible. Text and voice-overs should only enhance the viewer's experience, not detract from it.
I've seen book previews that are little more than animated reviews, one screen after another. This is an easy way to lose viewer interest. A video needs to hook the viewer within the first ten seconds and then keep renewing the viewer's interest every 10-20 thereafter. I know that I'm quick on the "Next Video" button when I get bored with a video. With so much content out there, viewers are notoriously--and rightfully--finicky.
So how do you properly integrate review quotes with your video? The best way is to showcase your preview on a web page with accompanying reviews. This gives the viewer a chance to get hooked by the video, then read more in-depth content. Likewise, when posting your video to social media, use those positive reviews in the description. Again, hook with the video and reel them in with the review.
I hope this helps those of you making your own videos. I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments below. Or, if you have a question about book video previews, feel free to leave it there too.
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Producer, Castelane Inc.