Thursday, October 29, 2009

Book Trailers: What's It To You?

Author Therese Fowler offered up a question on her facebook page last week: Do you think book trailers work to generate interest and sell books?

The resounding answer? No.

You'd think that just having created my own trailer, I'd be expecting something more positive, but I wasn't terribly surprised. How many people other than authors even know what a book trailer is, and how many people watch them? Although I think it doesn't hurt to try every avenue to create buzz and garner interest, I don't know how effective they are.

For me, it was a way to introduce friends to my book in what I hoped was an engaging way. It was a website to send acquaintances to in order to rope them into getting on my newsletter.  But did I expect a huge viral phenomenon in which hundreds or thousands of people would suddenly flock to order the book? Definitely not. (Okay, maybe I hoped so just a little, but that's totally different than expecting!)

What are your thoughts on them? Has one ever tempted you to read a book you'd not heard about before, or change your mind about one you have?  Do you know of anyone that isn't a writer that's even seen a book trailer? (and I don't mean a family member that's seen yours!!)


  1. I love book trailers. I just designed my own and added it to my blog-- I got a lot of suggestions from my followers, many of whom are book designers and industry people. They all said that I need to add a snippet of interview (with me) to make it more interesting.

    Heidi, I like your trailer, but I think the transitions are too long. It needs to be shorter or else it won't hold anyone's attention. That's what I think. I made mine short-- under 2 minutes. And I am going to add some video with me talking, since I heard from five people that that would make it more interesting.

  2. Unless that trailer is on TV or before a movie or something, I don't think it will sell many books either.

    I'm more swayed by a really good excerpt from a book than a trailer, which I guess could "tell" me about the plot, but wouldn't really tell me about the book.

    I'm not a fan of book trailers.

  3. I think they're fun (but, again, I'm a writer). In my opinion, unless your target audience is YA, they're probably not *that* effective. Doesn't mean don't do 'em, it just means I don't think that many "real" people care about them or will forward them around. Again, just my opinion, I haven't seen any hard marketing numbers on it.

  4. I like book trailers but what I really like are book trailers that are custom made-no stills. I've seen a couple of those, and usually it is some student contest. Like Carrie's-Forest of Hands and Teeth-had one. Looked like a real movie trailer. Awesome. Of course that is expensive and probably really impractical. I had never heard of book trailers before I got into writing.

  5. Kim - I think you hit on a good point: YA is really the one audience this might have some impact on. They are kind of the YouTube generation, and more media driven, I'd say.

    I do think book trailers, like books themselves, are a matter of opinion and taste. What style one may like, another may not.

    Which brings me back to: can it hurt more than help sometimes?

  6. I've only seen one book trailer before I read about them on your site. It was for a book called The Kept Man.

    I have no idea how I found her site but I watched the trailer and I thought Brooke Shields did the voice over.

    Turns out it was the author who did it and then I was able to enter a contest to receive her book for free. Score!

    It was good. And the best part was that it had "Uncorrected proof for limited distribution" printed on the front cover.

    I felt so cutting edge.

    I think I read about Kelly someone over here regarding book trailers, so I've seen hers and yours.

    That's it.

    I would guess they don't have a high ROI for the reasons you've already mentioned.

    Can it be a way to query publishers or is that passe?

  7. Cardio Girl - definite score!!

    I don't know about agents. I think they all still really just want that streamlined query.

    My book trailer, as I imagine most novel trailers, doesn't tell much about the book. They are designed to tempt you but not necessarily give the plot or set up the characters well.

    Which still isn't to say some agent wouldn't see it somewhere as be interested enough to request pages. I just think you don't go about querying her with that.

    Maybe someday they will become more mainstream, and then, who knows?