Making a Book Trailer

How do you sum up years of work in about 2 minutes?

Sarah Stankorb
4 min readAug 5


Photo by Jakob Owens on Unsplash

Learning Curve is a series tracing the experiences of debut author Sarah Stankorb, with insights into the steps between writing the manuscript and getting the book into readers’ hands.

I’m about to publish my first book, Disobedient Women: How a Small Group of Faithful Women Exposed Abuse, Brought Down Powerful Pastors, and Ignited an Evangelical Reckoning, and have spent the past few months learning precisely how much energy goes into the advanced marketing campaign for a book. It’s been a rush of sample chapter offers, bonuses for people who preordered, a first batch of podcast interviews, and a slew of social media posts. I’m very fortunate that my publisher’s in-house marketing team had a detailed plan for how to implement all this because this is my first rodeo in book world.

There’s ample incentive to try to create early buzz for a book. Preorders can influence a publisher’s print run of a book, help create buzz for book retailers, and count toward first-week sales (helping a book climb bestseller lists).

In addition to the beautiful graphics my publisher made, I wanted to create something that would help the book stand out and drive preorders — and convey its important message. I’ve seen book trailers before, but usually from well-known authors with very highly anticipated books. The fact that I remembered these trailers as vividly as the books convinced me that making a book trailer was a good investment of my time and a little bit of my advance.

Initially, I thought I’d gather a few photos from people featured in my book and pay my kid (adept as any teenager at making videos) an easy $100 for pulling one together.

I wrote a script and storyboarded how the images I had could fit together, but after a few frustrated days trying to pull what I had into anything attractive or memorable, my wise fourteen year old told me, “Mom, you need to hire a professional. You want this to look good, right?”

As a reporter, my network of filmmakers and videographers is fairly limited to documentarians I’ve encountered while covering similar stories. I reached out to one and asked if she knew anyone who would be skilled at making a book trailer. As luck would…



Sarah Stankorb

Sarah Stankorb has published with The Washington Post, Marie Claire, Glamour, O, and The Atlantic (among others). @sarahstankorb