How Awkward Family Photo Created Book Trailers that Stand out on Facebook

Moira West


Creating a good book trailer involves a tricky kind of alchemy — not unlike writing a good book! So we decided to break down a successful book trailer to highlight some of the elements that make it work, and how you can create your own with what you have on hand.

The book

Written by Mike Bender, co-founder of Awkward Family Photos, Everything’s Awkward takes a loving look at awkward childhood moments. Mike turned to video to help publicize the book, and engage existing fans on social media, creating a video ads and a trailer for the Awkward Family Facebook page, featured below. His videos were viewed more than 500,000 times, shared 800, and, more importantly, helped quadruple the book’s ranking on Amazon.

Why the book trailer worked

We’ve thought a lot about what kind of video works online — just check out our State of Social Video report if you don’t believe us — and here’s what we think this trailer did right, along with some tips for making your own book trailer more successful:

  • Focus on the tone of your video: Match your trailer’s tone to the tone of your book. Everything’s Awkward is light and family-friendly, so the trailer reflects that, making it easy for the audience to decide if they’ve found the right book for them.
  • Start with an interesting hook: Just as you put thought into those first few words on the first page of your book, the first few seconds of your book trailer have to really catch a viewer’s attention. The silly awkward family photos, coupled with the warning that viewers are about to see something funny, sets up the rest of Mike’s video book trailer for success.
  • Create a video that’s watchable without sound: We found that 85% of people on Facebook watch videos without sound, especially when they’re viewing on mobile. Luckily, the Everything’s Awkward’s trailer doesn’t need sound to draw you in because it relies on visuals and text to pitch its story. Caption your own trailer or add text to make your meaning clear, even if your audience never bothers to turn on the sound.
  • Make use of available images: You don’t need to go out and shoot a sweeping epic to make an effective book trailer. Mike was able to use just promotional photos from Everything’s Awkward, along with a short iPhone video clip of someone turning his book’s pages. You can do something similar with just evocative text and a book cover.
  • Optimize for mobile: Where viewers see your video book trailer is almost as important as what they see. For his trailer, Mike tried making both square and landscape versions, and found the square just worked better. Square videos take up 78% more space on mobile devices and that extra space counts. His mobile-optimized square videos got three times more reactions and were finished two and a half times as often as his landscape videos.
  • Prominently show your cover: You want viewers to leave your trailer and then go find your book. Displaying your book cover, as Mike did in his trailer, helps potential customers remember your title and imagery as they go hunting for your work on Amazon or in Barnes & Noble.

You’re a storyteller — a book trailer is just a new way to tell your story. Focus what you want to say and the audience you want to reach, and you’ll have what you need to make your trailer.

If you want to learn more about how Everything’s Awkward became a hit, head over to the Awkward Family Photos Success Stories page. Or if you have your own book trailer success story, we’d love to hear about it in the comments below.