Book Trailer. Friend or Fiend?

Book Trailers.  What do you think of them?  Are they valuable?  Is this the next best way to use the wonderful free media  outlets out there to help promote yourself, or is this the next best way to shoot yourself in the foot?

Which camp are you in?

My answer (Surprise!  I have an opinion!) is that it can really go both ways.  As in any marketing idea, it depends on what you put into it.  The best book trailer I have ever seen is actually a FAKE one put together by Nathan Bransford to show how easy it was to make one.  Unfortunately, I searched through his site, and I cannot find it.  Anyone have it?

Here is a great one I can link up to.  It is a little long for my tastes.  They probably could have edited it down under two minutes, especially without music —  but WOW does it pack a punch.  Take a look.  This is definitely one of the five best I’ve seen, despite the length.

Here’s another live-action one, with voice-over.  This one I think is pretty good too.  And it’s short enough that it does not annoy you out of buying the book.

The worst one I have seen?  Hmmmm.  Out of the 30 Book Trailers I have watched preparing for this article, you actually want me to pick the worst out of the 27 that were just horrible?

I think the numbers make my point without picking on any one person.  I don’t want to embarrass anyone.

This is the thing.  You are going to get out of it what you put into it.  Let’s take a look at another one that I think is pretty good.  This one does not have expensive live-action.  It’s just pictures, graphics and swipes, and a really good soundtrack.  The pictures are perfect, and it doesn’t look thrown together.

Wow.  Good, huh?  Even if you don’t like the genre, you are tempted… aren’t you?  So what made this so much better than the other 28?  I will take a wild guess and say PRICE.  I don’t know if it was professionally done or not, but the person who did it knew what they were doing, and took their time to make sure it was RIGHT.

The other 28?  Well, they look like they were thrown together on someone’s home computer.

What does this say about your work?

As a consumer looking at a book trailer… this is what goes through my head when I see a bad book trailer.

“Is the book as lame as that trailer was?”

“Is that the best they could do?”

“Is the book going to be as bad as that trailer?”

These are all normal, honest reactions.  On the flip side, for the really good trailer… something professionally done means someone believed in the work enough that they spent the time, and maybe money, to produce a quality product.  If they took the time to do this, the book must have been worth it.

Is a bad book trailer going to make you pass over the book?  In my eyes… YES.  Others may have a different opinion, but for the reasons I listed above… yes.

My Opinion?  If you are going to do it at all… do it right.  Get a professional to do it.  If you are going to get a bunch of stock photography that is mismatched and does not flow together, and glue it together with a cheesy free soundtrack in the background you are not doing your novel any justice.

You are better off not having a book trailer at all.


28 responses to “Book Trailer. Friend or Fiend?

  1. Superb advice. Thanks doing the research.

  2. I love book trailers (assuming they are done well). My favorite so far has been The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer.

  3. Good points to think about. I feel like in this day and age, book trailers will be very popular, so it’s probably best to do one–but only if you can do it well. A poor book trailer is just as bad for sales as a poorly written book, I think. Otherwise, skip the trailer and focus on other means of marketing.

  4. Really?! A book trailer?! What happened to book blurbs?

    • Funny
      I just commented that many people don’t even know these exist, and here’s another. I’m not sold that these will be a requirement of marketing of if they are just a passing phase. I guess we will just need to wait and see

  5. What a great post! I’ve always felt pressured to have a book trailer because… well, they’re meant to be the next big thing, right? Yet the ones I’ve seen, with exceptions, obviously, but most of the ones I’ve seen… well they made me cringe. I don’t want people to cringe before they consider my book; because truth is, as you say, it’ll put them off. To get it done just right, professionally done and produced: is that really the business we’re in? Not sure. What sells books? Word of mouth, person to person, perhaps tweet to tweet. End of story (pun intended). So I think Jen has it right when she says perhaps you’re better off not having one, rather than having a poor one. What a lot of food for thought!

    • I’m not so sure they will ever be the next big thing
      I don’t think most general readers even know they exist yet
      I guess we will just need to wait and see

  6. Mine are not professionally done because I don’t have the money to hire anyone. I am fairly computer savvy and did them myself. I thought they came out pretty well.

  7. Well, this is thought-provoking! My first reaction to them has always been—we’re writing book, not producing movies. How well does a marketing ploy created for one medium (film) translate to another (print)?

    Your examples show it can be done well. But only by bringing in the professionals in my mind!

    • I’m sure it can be done well by yourself, if you know what you are doing. Many I saw were obviously home made. Actually, many I saw done by publishers were just AWEFUL too.

  8. I really struggle with this because I am not at all a video/movie person. I don’t own a TV, and I seldom watch movies (maybe once every few years), so book trailers don’t do anything for me. I’d rather read about the book than watch a trailer any day, but I know that I’m outside the norm in this. It makes it a real challenge, though, for me to even imagine putting together a good book trailer (even with professional help) because it’s just so far outside my worldview. Thanks for bringing this question up for discussion. It’s helpful for me to hear other people’s viewpoints.

    • I’m not really sure that they are necessary. This is a new media. I don’t think anyone is out there spending an evening loooking at book trailers … I know people who look at movie trailers like this, but who knows… as popularity increases? We’ll see.

  9. I agree. I was toying with doing one for a short story I have but changed my mind because I don’t have the moolah to do it justice. I came across one I really like for The Merman and the Moon Forgotten. The author self-published and did the trailer. I wish I had his talent. The MG book is actually pretty darn good, too.

    • I bopped over to take a look at this one. Honestly, I did not get through all of it. Why? The music drowned out the talking, and I could not hear it. The visualy may have been good, though. If I was shopping, I would have moved on. Again — my opinion. some people may like the music to drown out the dialog. Maybe I’m nuts?

  10. My problem with trailers is that they tend to do some of the work for the reader, in terms of putting images and visual cues in their head, when one of the greatest things about reading is your ability to envision everything on your own.

    If you twist my arm, I’d have to say the non-live action one would be the best way to go. I also think maybe doing a little animated piece would be better than live action, where applicable.

    But I agree with you, if someone’s gonna do a book trailer, you need to do it right and plunk down the cash for it. 🙂

  11. She Started It

    I completely agree. If you’re going to do a book trailer, plump down the big bucks for the professionals and do it right, or don’t do it at all!

  12. I was watching a book trailer for … I can’t remember what. The point is, it was a major, best-selling book, and the trailer actually wanted to make me claw my eyes out. It was SO bad. If they can afford to hire actors and all that, why not hire a movie director to make the trailer? At least then it would be decent.

    • Ha! That’s funny. There is probably a business base for this out there, but you’d have to go to NY or LA to get to these people, I’d imagine… or maybe hook up with them through those sites that do the fan films — some of those people are very talented.

  13. Can you believe those were actually the first three book trailers I’ve ever seen? I think so anyway, maybe I’ve come across others but they obviously haven’t really registered in my consciousness. Not sure if I like the idea or not, they hopefully give a good sense of the story, and the atmosphere, but often it’s more about how something is written that makes us like a book, so I don’t think a trailer would replace reading an extract. All three were good though, I did enjoy them, the first one had my heart pounding.