August 13


Trailer reveal for Hamster Princess: Harriet the Invincible + 8 Essential Tips for Creating Your Own Book Trailer!

  1. Get started! To begin with, think about how you would tell a friend about a book, and use that as the starting point when brainstorming your video. For instance, if the world the book is set in is really intriguing, you might want to start there. Or if there is an especially compelling main character, he or she might be the center of your video. Give it a try. Pick your favorite book and think about how you would recommend it to a friend! Did you start with the character, the world, or something else? Since Ursula Vernon’s Hamster Princess is a brand new series, we knew we wanted to start by introducing Harriet Hamsterbone, the protagonist of the series.
  2. Create tension. Next, you’ll need to identify the conflict and the cliffhanger. You need both of these plot elements to add tension to your video (even for funny stories). Tension helps get your audience invested in the outcome of the story, therefore ensuring that the person who watched your video now wants to find out what happens next! In the Hamster Princess video, the conflict is that Harriet has been cursed by a wicked rat fairy and the cliffhanger is that when Harriet tries to reverse the curse, she ends up doing something unbelievable to the entire kingdom, and it’s now up to her to save them all. Don’t you want to know what happens next?
  3. Identify your audience and ideal length. Once you have an idea of what you want to focus on within your trailer, you should determine who the trailer is for, and how long it should be. Do you want a 15 second video that gives a little taste of the book and is the perfect length for sharing on social media? Do you want a 30 second video that gives you a bit more info, but is still fast and almost like a commercial? Or do you want to create a longer (1 min. +)  video that goes into greater detail? All lengths can work!
  4. Create a storyboard. Now that you have the main idea for your video, and you’ve identified the conflict, the cliffhanger, the length and the audience of your video, you can start to create the storyboard. It’s best to start by making a list of all the things you want to feature in the video, and then you can begin to piece them together so they make sense for the viewer. Since we wanted to focus on introducing Harriet, we grouped all of the fun, descriptive things about Harriet together at the beginning of the video so that viewers would have a good sense of who she is and what she likes to do. From there, we headed into the conflict and then finished with the cliffhanger. There’s no set rule for a storyboard. Sometimes starting with the conflict works well, and other times the cliffhanger is the best way in! Think back to how you’d tell a friend about a book and try to follow that thought process when creating your storyboard.
  5. Write a script. Whether you’re using a voiceover (that’s when the narrator is someone that you can’t see) or text on the screen, once your storyboard is finished you are ready to write the script! Think of the script as supplementing what the person sees, and make sure that whatever they are hearing or reading goes along with what they are seeing on the screen. For Hamster Princess, we used a script that conveys the humor in the book and that makes sure the person watching the video understands what they were seeing – after all, they might not recognize an Ogrecat at first sight!
  6. Choose your production materials. How you create the visual content of your video is really up to you! If you’re featuring a book with a lot of illustrations, it’s often best to use the art from the book to help tell your story, as was the case with the Hamster Princess video. If there aren’t that many pictures in the book, you can use photographs and images and then piece them together. Other methods include using stock video footage or, if you’re really ambitious, shooting a live-action video (that’s with real human – or animal – actors!).
  7. Use music! Don’t forget about the power of music! Background music and sound effects can immediately set the mood and tone for a book, and is a great way to let viewers know what to expect. Will this be a humorous adventure book or is it a scary mystery?
  8. Wrapping up. Finally, don’t forget to include the book name and if you can, an image of the book at the end. Remember the reason for the video. You want your trailer to get people excited to read the book! You can also add details about where to find more information (like a website) or you can let people know where they can pick up a copy of the book. We often say “Available wherever books are sold!”

Remember, these are just tips. There are so many ways to create a book trailer, and so many different creative methods for bringing a book to life in video form. As long as you know your goal – to get people interested in a book – you can truly do anything. A video with people talking about how much they loved a book or an author interview or book discussion can be just as compelling as a narrative trailer. The true tip is to know your audience and how you want to use the video, and then have fun!

Rachel Cone-Gorham is Director of Digital & Social Marketing at Penguin Young Readers.