SCBA: Book Trailer vs Film Trailer

In a world exactly like this one. In a classroom near you. Pupils, teachers and librarians came together in a spectacularly creative way and utilised their skills in the making of THE BOOK TRAILER. Starring you. Certificate: all ages.

Wait, what? Book trailer? 

What is a book trailer?

A book trailer is a video advertisement for a book which employs techniques similar to those used in a movie trailer. A book trailer's main goal is to promote a book and entice readers to have a read. There are many ways to create one but most common formats include actors performing scenes from the book, flash videos, animation or simple still photos set to music with text conveying the story.

At Scottish Book Trust we've set up our very own book trailer competition for the shortlisted titles of the Scottish Children's Book Awards. 

About the competition

We are inviting pupils across Scotland to create a trailer for one of the 9 shortlisted books in this year's SCBA, with a prize of £250 in Waterstones book tokens up for grabs. The competition is open to all ages, and pupils can produce a trailer for any of the three age categories.  

We've got some tips that you may find useful, want them? Then read on, my book-loving friend! 

A book trailer is not the same as a movie trailer. 

Making a book trailer is surprisingly straightforward and a lot of fun. You don’t have to be a Scorsese.

Making a book trailer is surprisingly straightforward and a lot of fun. You don’t have to be a Scorsese. Despite the name, a book trailer is something essentially different to a movie trailer. 

No way! Okay, that might seem a bit obvious but there are some things to keep in mind:

1. While movie trailers have edited scenes from the whole finished production, book trailers are composed of footage which represents what the maker has imagined in their own head while reading the book. Many pupils really enjoy the ownership that comes with this: reading is often a personal experience and a reader's greatest enjoyment is creating their own images in their own head. Creating a book trailer gives them a chance to bring their unique vision to life but remember, it needs to be universal enough that anyone could understand the link between the book and the images.

2. Spoiler alert! A trailer should not be a complete re-telling of the plot. Lure them in without telling them how each chapter pans out. If the trailer gives it all away, why read the book?

3. Although some book trailers have quality actors and high production values, they simply don't have the resources behind them that most movie trailer producers have. As a result, book trailers often set out to intrigue their viewer rather than bombard them with dazzling visuals. The best resource at your pupils' disposal is their creativity!

If you are planning on creating a book trailer, the first starting point is to have a look at what's out there and compare a book trailer with a cinematic trailer. You will soon pick up on the differences and get tips and techniques that you may want to borrow.  

Hey, what do you know? We've picked out some for you...Book trailer workshop

Compare and contrast

As an example of the above two points, compare the movie trailer for the recently released David Fincher adaptation of Gillian Flynn's Gone Girl and the Falcon Media Booktrailer of the book. The book trailer was created on a much smaller budget than the film trailer but it makes use of the wonderful opening to the novel to effectively create intrigue and atmosphere, supplemented by the haunting music. Very little is given away about the plot. The Twentieth Century Fox trailer for The Book Thief and Random House Kids' book trailer for The Book Thief is another good example. The book trailer only contains tantalising hints to the plot - you're pulled in and want to read this book without knowing a great deal about it. 

In short, a successful book trailer provides the flavour of a novel without giving away the ingredients.

In short, a successful book trailer provides the flavour of a novel without giving away the ingredients. As a final example, check out this trailer for The Seeing by Diana Hendry (SCBA short-listed 2013), which gives away almost nothing about the book but captures the atmosphere superbly.

While your pupils' creativity is their biggest asset, they still need effective software such as these three free apps for making a booktrailer. Want a bit of help? Have a look at our Book Trailer Masterclass videos - and on the same page, you'll find a whole unit of work to help you integrate trailers into your planning. 

Find out more about the SCBA Book Trailer competition here, including more example trailers and rules for submission.

Pushkin Children's Books are also running a book trailer competition to celebrate the UK release of Oksa Pollock: The Heart of Two Worlds. Check it out at the Oksa Pollock website.