WIS: Book Trailers and Corporate Clips

Key Fundamentals of the Script for Corporate Clips and Book Trailers

1st Key: ID the Product Being Sold

The world of filmed advertisements can teach us the first important lesson when designing trailers and clips.

A mantra of film advertising is to present the product name 4 to 6 times.  When badly done, this repetition can be obnoxious.  When well done, it’s not noticeable but has subliminal power.

Product naming is basically creating an identifier for the marketplace.

If your book is part of a series—or a client’s company is part of a greater entity—you have another identifier to use.  A trailer or a clip can–in 30 seconds to a minute–intrigue the audience enough to catch their attention and stick in memory.

So, to hit the 7-name rule, we can place the title at the beginning, use the cover image, use the series name, then repeat the title followed once more by the cover image = 5 identifiers.

Telling people how to find the product and then once more repeating the name or series or author name gives us the Perfect 7.

2nd Key: Focus Points

In trailers and clips, we select several methods as our focus points.

Many people use the III-Act / Plot.  Some use the key events from Freytag’s Pyramid.  For the trailer, it may work better to consider four parts.

Businesses also have a story to tell:  about their services or their products.  Telling a story catches attention faster than a dry list of details.

When we add music, we create another unconscious connection.  Music—even in short trailers and clips—seems to develop through its own three- or four-step progress:  opening interest, the exposition (exposing) of the primary melodies (your characters), the development of the primaries (re-developed and intermingled), and the recapitulation (the primaries strengthened to a crescendo / the climax).

adapting to a Video trailer and corporate clip:

1st ¼ = introduction: set up and characters and suspense

A] Start with an identifier: title or series name or cover image.

B] Give a quick glimpse of the story / service / product: keep interest level high.  These are concepts, single words or phrases.  Consider elements of setting or conflict creators.

C] Hook the audience.  Present the characters: characters create connections.  Or present the purpose of the product or service.  

2nd ¼ is the Midpoint = characters in action with the plot and each other OR service / product fulfilling a need

D] A sentence for each protagonist (service) with their problematic situation or driving goal. Select only the protagonist or the hero & heroine;  strong secondary characters do not drive the story.  For services and products, we are locating the driving need that developed the item and discovering its significance in the marketplace.  Whether book, service, or product, this part may take two or more slides.

3rd ¼ = dilemma that begins driving to the end

E] What problem do the protagonists encounter? The dilemma should present the danger these characters are in.  Or how does the business present the product / service in a way that no one else does?

4th ¼ = the question that must be resolved

F] The conflict question that drives to the story’s end. Capture the tension in the last quarter of the book without revealing anything that happens.  We adapt this to business by presenting the expertise this business offers.

3rd Key: Keep the Script Clipped and Short

Now is not the time to be verbose.  Now is the time to cut.  Trailers and Clips are intended to be fast impressions.

Concepts should flash.  Sentences should intrigue.  If these two points—flash and intrigue—are not working, then nothing else will shine.

I used to hate to write a short script for my novels.  How can a writer reduce 85,000 or 100,000 words to five little sentences?

Do it.  Cut it.

Cut it shorter.  And cut out extraneous words.

Cut verb phrases to the verb alone (“will be fighting” >> “fight”). Remove adjectives and prepositional phrases.

This is not the time to dress up the writing.  Give the bones of the story or service or product:  it’s the idea that first intrigued you before you fleshed out that skeleton and gave it heart and muscles.

Cut it to the bare bones.

4th Key: Meld Visual with Verbal

Your verbals will benefit from intercutting with visuals.

For Books

Examine your cover.  A realistic cover should provide two or three elements that can be cropped and manipulated.   A good cover designer will create an evocative cover that enables aesthetic cropping.

An exceptional cover designer will provide banner alternatives for your cover image, to use for Facebook or Google or Twitter or bookmarks.  These alternatives can be used in your book trailer.

For Products or Services

We’re combining the business logo with an image that perfectly matches our focus.

If the logo is too concrete (a headline of title and author and a single graphic, such as a man running), then we can find some images in the public domain that are capture the product’s concrete feel or look (through color, through lines and shading).  If your logo is only headline words, images in the public domain will again be beneficial.

WikiMedia Commons has photographs and images in the public domain.  Search and see.   Places like ShutterStock offer licensed photographic and computer-drawn images for a $$$ fee for a single image.  Expect to pay for good quality, and you will never be disappointed.

Whether Trailers or Clips ~

You should anticipate showing your image at the beginning and end of the trailer.  Expect to use one or two more visuals (cropped images or the banner), depending on the length of your trailer.

Using text over the images cropped from your design is also possible.  It takes careful positioning.  White words over pale background OR black words over dark background cannot be seen.  Your first ventures into film editing may be benefited by not placing text over image.

5th Key: Shaping It

Here is a template that will create a trailer running 30 to 45 seconds, long enough to snare interest, not so long that the audience rolls their eyes.

The items grouped in threes can be arranged within that section.  I do not advise moving them out of that section.


  1. 1st identifier, verbal or visual
  2. 2nd identifier, verbal or visual (cover image)
  3. Quick glimpse of story / product / service
  4. Item introduction (one or two slides/cards)
  5. Visual of characters on cover (or logo / product)  or an abstract visual or a social media banner
  6. Problematic Situation / Driving Goal or Need that Product / Service fulfills (going to Midpoint of book or the customer’s need for the product)
  7. Another visual from the cover or logo—focusing on a danger or dramatic element
  8. Dilemma (see E] above)
  9. Major Question (F] )
  10. Cover/product image/ logo and location to find.   If the novel is part of a series, then state the author and the series on a separate slide/card.  If the product is available in other places besides the business, state that.  If the service is online as well as at a brick-and-mortar, promote that flexibility.

6th Key: Timing of the Trailers and Clips

Don’t linger too long on any one slide/card.

Figure out the timing for each slide by reading all the words aloud. We read aloud more slowly than we read silently.  That reading aloud will take into consideration those who do not read as rapidly.

Your visuals (unless you want them to be subliminal) should not flash past. Give your audience a chance to see but again do not linger.

A rich cover image would demand as much time as verbal slide/card.  Consider each element of a rich image as a long phrase to be read, and adjust your timing appropriately.

If your viewers want a longer look, they can re-watch your trailer.  It is better to have them re-watch it than turn it off because they’re bored.

7th Key: Sound for Trailers and Clips

Work out the timing of your slides before you look for your background music.  While music is powerful, it will not sell your book.  Do not find the music then figure out the timing for the slides.

When you have a basic timing for your slides, look for a musical clip with that time frame (from somewhere like audiojungle  https://audiojungle.net/ or Envato https://envato.com/index.html ).  On those sites, you can run a search based on time (thirty seconds or :30 seconds)

The opening sounds are as important as the closing ones.  The opening should grab attention but not startle.  Then music should gradually build.

The climax of the music should–hopefully–coincide with your Major Question (Slide/Card 9).

The music should then trail off as the trailer presents the last cover image and the location for purchase.

Once you add the sound file to your trailer, adjust the length of the slides accordingly to end at the same time.  The music should die out on your last slide/card.

CAVEAT:  With trailers and clips, you can tinker your way to insanity trying to get the sounds’ crescendos and decrescendos to match exactly.  Don’t.

Sound should capture the essence.

  • Powerful epic scores work with action-adventure and epic heroes, strong engines and manufacturing.
  • Piano and solo violins or cellos work with stories centered on relationship angst as well as office services that create tranquility for the client (a CPA handling taxes, for example).  Look for the romantic tag.
  • For mysteries or products and services that fulfill needs, music with the theme of cinematic works well.
  • Tags that are corporate and uplifting work when celebrating a business or service that changes people’s lives.  Motivational books fit this tag.

A Special Note for Video Trailers:  If your setting is strong—in Morocco or Greece or China—the music evocative of that culture will create intrigue.  Be careful:  the music should not dominate;  it should support.  Listen to several files before finalizing your purchase.

The Key-Ring

Your comments about our A Game of Secrets trailer will be appreciated.  If you would like assistance in creating a clipped script or a book trailer, please contact us for pricing options, dependent on the number of slides you wish to generate or the length of the book trailer you would like to have.