Video Book Trailers

Video Book Trailers, guest post by Sara Marks.

As a reader, I love book trailers to get the flavor of a book before I read it.  There are some beautifully done ones and I want them for my books too.  For my first novel, Modern Persuasion, I hired someone from the website Fiverr to create a trailer a few months after the book was released.  When I was getting ready for Phi Alpha Pi, I decided to try it again, but to use the trailer as part of the cover reveal. Here are the lessons I learned from the experience.

What Is Fiverr

Imagine that you can just hire someone to complete a job for your book: proofread, illustrations, video creation, voice over work, or anything else.  Fiverr is a website that connects you to freelancers who can help with those tasks.  The cost depends on how much work is expected, but the low end would presumably start at $5.00 (hence Fiverr).  The person you are hiring can share the products of past jobs, feedback from previous clients, and set their own terms.  For a video trailer, they can vary in price, but many start at $10 and go up to $30.  The highest I saw was $80 and the creator was one of their most popular and top rated.  Within each job there are levels that can vary the length of the video, the number of revisions the creator will do, and how much media they might use. Custom jobs can be set up with most creators.  In the past I’ve done jobs for proofreading and copy editing short stories as well as the trailers.  I’ve worked with some great professionals, but there are drawbacks to the service.  

My Experience

Video Book Trailers, guest post by Sara MarksMy two novels are part of an anthology series with a shared universe.  They are modernizations of Jane Austen’s classics.  They are sweet romance books targeted at new adults, college students, and romance fans.  This means they aren’t steamy, bodice-rippers.  The sex is implied and the romance is, well, sweet and often playful.  My cover designer, for Phi Alpha Pi, really got the tone of the book and the cover reflected it.  I wanted a trailer that extended this tone.

As a self published authors all the profits and expenses are mine. My sanity is just as important as my wallet and I’m not opposed to hiring someone who can do something better than I can.  SInce a trailer is not critical to the success of the book, I really had to consider the expense and my budget.  People suggested creators who charged as little as $400 for 20 seconds of video.  The work was wonderful, I couldn’t justify the expense. I turned to Fiverr to see what options I had.  I spent an entire day looking at different jobs and their creators.  I watched past trailers they had made.  I searched stock footage websites to make sure I wasn’t expecting something unreasonable.  I composed the lines I wanted on the screen.  I composed a statement explaining the tone of the trailer.  I picked someone I thought I could work with and within 2 hours I had my trailer.  After I watched the entire 90 second video and only had a long list of problems.

I won’t name the creator, he was kind enough to refund my money when I expressed my frustrations.  The problem really centered around having paid for one revision and not feeling we couldn’t create something I liked with that little work. I ended up doing it on my own and it helped me realize what was going on and why it wasn’t going to work for me in the future.

Lessons 1: Media Libraries

Video creators will often talk about their library of videos, photos, and music.  These libraries are what they will use to create your trailer.  I thought, in my naivety, that they were paying a fee to have access to sources similar to Getty Images or iStockPhoto.  I assumed it was different than what I could get access to.  This is not true.  Based on the number of images and video I saw repeated across trailers, they have their own personal libraries.  When I buy a stock photo, I have the right to use it as often as I want.  The same with videos and music.  The ones I have paid for are my library.  Videos on iStockphoto cost at least $50 each.  If the creator charges you $30 to make your trailer, this is no incentive for them to buy a video just for you.  That is, unless they think the content can easily be used in other videos. Compare this to someone who is charging you $400 to make a trailer.  Instead of $30 for 90 seconds, they only give you 20 seconds of video for the $400. Their media libraries are likely larger and the higher fee gives them an incentive to buy the media you need for your trailer (if they don’t have something already).

When your on Fiverr,  look at a creator’s work and pay attention to the media they use.  How often do you see the same video or image?  How often do they use the same music?  These are signs to the breadth of their library.  Are the similar objects used for a specific genre? Are they abstract images? If you saw it in your trailer, would you be happy?  For example, I frequently saw a video of wine being poured into a wine glass.  It was used in romance trailers.  It was also in mine and had nothing to do with my book, but the creator had it in his library already.

Lessons: Revisions

One of the difference between job levels on Fiverr, when it comes to videos, is how many revisions you get.  In this recent experience we only had one revision.  Imagine you and your creator have completely different visions for your trailer (for whatever reason).  If your first draft isn’t to your satisfaction, then you only have one chance to try and communicate your needs better before you get your final product.  My creator and I both realized this was not going to be possible.  In my first experience with the Modern Persuasion trailer, I paid for two revisions, and even that didn’t lead to complete satisfaction. 

The number of revision is far more important than I ever thought.  Maybe I wouldn’t have been as frustrated with the first draft if I had additional revisions. With more expensive creators, off Fiverr, I saw unlimited revisions as a selling feature.  It makes sense.  Time is money and revisions are time.  Clarity of descriptions and vision are critical if you only have one or two chances to revise the video.

Lessons: Length

This is the strength of the Fiverr videos- you get more length for less money.  With the more expensive creators, off Fiverr, I was seeing 15-20 seconds of video.  On Fiverr I was seeing 60 - 120 seconds of video.  More time means more text and, in my opinion, more time to craft a message. If you don’t have a problem with the image library and number of revisions, you can easily get a lot of video for a good price. It allows people to see the text for more time and the trailer doesn’t feel rushed.

Lessons: YouTube

The point of the trailer is to share it and, for many, the easiest way to do this is via YouTube. With my first trailer I was given a final MP4 file, which is perfect for YouTube, but the only hiccup I had was with the music license.  It was flagged for copyright on the music. This meant, if I had it set up for monetization, it probably wouldn’t be eligible. Even though your creator has the license to use the music, it doesn’t mean you do. I don’t think this is really going to be a problem for most people.  In my experience, the trailer is to help sell the book, not the video. Still, it’s something to be aware of.

Should you use Fiverr to hire someone for a book trailer?  Of course!  The key is to go in with open eyes and make the best decision for your sanity, wallet, and time.  Hopefully, my lessons will help you make a more informed decision! Check out my blog, Book Club of 1, to learn how I learned to create my own trailer and the lessons I learned from that experience.

Video Book Trailers, guest post by Sara Marks
Born in Boston, MA and raised in Miami, FL, Sara Marks has two masters degrees and plans to never stop getting over educated. She likes the idea of having all the academic regalia she can ever possess and winning with the most degrees in her family. By day she’s an academic librarian. In what little free time she has, she also knits and plays with her dog Cedric Doggory.

You can find and contact Sara Marks here:
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Video Book Trailers, guest post by Sara Marks


  1. Thanks for letting me be a guest blogger and being part of the blog tour!


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