Our Pages

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Book Trailers: Yay, Okay, or Please Go Away?

Book trailers seem to be all the rage amongst authors these days. They use them as a way to raise awareness about their new releases and hope that they'll encourage readers to buy and read their books.

There seems to be a wide variety of methods to creating book trailers that authors are employing. I've seen everything from the book blurb scrolling across the screen set to music, to still photos telling the story of the blurb along with music, to cartoon animation, to live action with actors, and everything in between.

I'm not 100% sold on them, though. They seem like they have the potential to suck up a lot of an author's time and resources that could have been directed towards writing more books--without a lot of proof (that I've seen) of providing value in return. Do people actually watch book trailers? Do the people who watch book trailers then go out and buy the related books? And are their purchases due to the book trailers, or were they already planning to buy the books anyway, or else they wouldn't have watched the book trailer in the first place? I've got a lot of unanswered questions--or at least, unanswered by anyone other than me. Any statistician will tell you that a sample size of one is a bit on the small side.

Over the last several years, I've watched a number of authors' book trailers. Not one of them has convinced me to buy a book that I didn't already intend to buy. A couple of them have made me question whether I wanted to buy the book at all. Only two stand out in my memory as being terribly inventive or different--and while I did buy the books they were advertising, my decision to purchase had more to do with the author being an auto-buy for me, or the general anticipation I already had leading up to the book's release, than it did with the book trailer itself. A few stand out in memory because the trailer made the book seem like something other than what I expected from reading the blurb--and in a way that made me less inclined to want to read the book.

Essentially, for me as a reader, a book trailer has more potential to turn me off than turn me on. 

At this point, I don't plan to create any book trailers for my books--largely because of my impression of them. But I know my opinion is simply that--mine. So I'm curious what other readers think of book trailers. In fact, I've put together a little (highly) unscientific poll for our readers, to help me decide what direction to take. (If you're reading through email or a feed reader, please click through to participate in the poll.)

Have you ever bought a book because of watching a book trailer? (And if you're an author, do you make book trailers, and do you think they're effective?) Please elaborate on your answers in the comments, if you're so inclined. :)


  1. You know, most of the time they don't interest me, but there was one video that stuck with me for a long time and actually did prompt me to pick the book up. Oddly enough, it was a time lapse of creating the cover, not an actual trailer. I would love to do something like this when I have a book come out - especially if my composer brother will write the music :)

    The following link is for the blog post on PubRants:

    Click Here

  2. Book trailers have never interested me. I've seen them but I haven't ever thought... Ohh I have to get that book now. Not once. Not ever. :)

  3. I make book trailers for my books and I believe I have made a few sales from them I might otherwise would not have. I love doing it as a break from writing.

    Here is a sample. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rd1V5YfH7xg

  4. I've seen that one too, Erin, and never really considered it a book trailer since it was about the cover and not the book. LOL. I suppose it could be a book trailer though. It was far more interesting to me than most book trailers, that's for sure. :)

    Ava, glad I'm not alone in that camp. :)

  5. Thanks for sharing, A. N. Rosen. Just out of curiosity, have you had readers tell you they bought because of your trailers? Do you have any other "proof" of sorts that that's the case? I'm not trying to be contentious--just trying to figure out how authors show a return on the investment of their time/resources. I can see how they can be a good break from writing, though. :)

  6. I have one book trailer for my novella. I did it because it was the rage when my story came out and I figured it would be a different way to get it out in public.

    Do I have proof that it works. No. But then I don't have proof that any of my marketing works. I still have no clue why people buy my stories. I feel like the blindfold dude throwing a dart at stock picks.

    I hope something sticks somewhere and works.

  7. Beth, that's a great analogy. LOL. With all book marketing, it seems like that's what we're doing. I wish I knew what worked and what doesn't. More than that, I wish there was a measurable way to determine what works and what doesn't.

  8. About the only thing I've decided that helps with sales after watching several other authors is to write more stories.

    I still get an occasional sale on my published stories. But no amount of marketing or promotion will replace having a new story come out.

  9. Catherine,
    I've never watched a book trailer, besides one that one of my critique partners made, but I would have bought her book regardless. I buy books based on the back blurb and on word of mouth. I have had book covers turn me off and make me not want to buy a book, but as for trailers, I don't think they will ever influence me.

  10. I can attest to that, Beth! Having more books out has done more for my sales than anything else we've tried.

    Sounds like we've got a lot of people who are in the same boat, Julie. Thanks for piping in.

  11. I don't think every author should attempt book trailers on their own. Yes, maybe you can string a few photos together, but like you said, a badly done trailer could be detrimental.

    I'm an author but I also make my own trailers and have a business making them for others. Do you have to have one? No. But it seems everyone else and their dog does, so - if you want to compete, why not? Also, the sheer number of sites dedicated to book trailers suggests people are watching.

  12. I created a few book trailers for two reasons, one: Because I wanted to be able to learn how to do it if I need to. Even if I never make another one, I at least know how to in case I change my mind. And two: Because even if I can reach that one extra reader who might have otherwise not bought a book, than it's worth my time and energy.

    I have a one reader who saw my book trailer For the Sake of Sin and absolutely loved it. Now she did not buy the book because she doesn't have an ereader yet but she told me that once she got one, I was going on her to be bought list. That made the three hours of work on the book trailer worth it. I was very proud of myself for taking the initiative to learn something new and doing a decent job of it. Will it garner me tons of attention? Probably not. Will I do it again? Probably not for a while but I think anything that gives me the opportunity to interact with my readership is a good thing.

    It may not be the thing to do for everyone but for myself I wanted to learn how to, just so I can tuck that information away for another day. After all, learning everything about the craft, even book trailers, is beneficial to me. And again that's just my own opinion and it boils down to what's right for you.

  13. I'm not a fan of book trailers. I think it's easy to cross the line between creative and cheesy quickly. That's not to say there aren't any good ones out there, but I will never see them because my opinion has already been formed based on a few not so good ones.

    Wow! I sound really set in my ways when I'm not. Now I feel like I should give them one more chance. :)

  14. Samantha, give them one more chance when mine for Lord and Lady Spy comes out in August. :-) I think it's pretty good. I figure anything I can do to get my book in people's minds is a good thing. I always hear that you have to be exposed to something like 7 times before you remember it. So a book trailer could be one of the 7.

  15. Actually yes, I've bought a book (and read the rest of the series) primarily (initially) because of the trailer. Tessa Dare's Stud Club trilogy's trailer. I nearly fell off my chair laughing at work because it was soooooo funny. She used her kids' toys.

  16. Wendy, I didn't realize there were sites dedicated to book trailers! Maybe there is more of an audience for them than I initially gave credit. Thanks for letting us know that.

    Suzie, that's great news that a reader saw your trailer and wants to buy because of it. With all the authors I know who've made one, you're the first who's actually mentioned a reader choosing to buy based on the trailer. That might have something to do with why I've been a hard sell on them. LOL.

    Samantha, I'm pretty set in my ways and opinions on them, too. :)

    Good point on the 7 exposures before something is remembered, Shana. I'm just curious how many people are more like Samantha, who won't watch a book trailer at all no matter what--and therefore won't see that as one of their 7 exposures. Then again, there are likely many others who do watch them, too.

    Tory, that trailer is one of the two that stands out in my mind as a good one. I already intended to buy her books, because I loved her first trilogy, so the trailer didn't effect my decision. Not sure if it would have if I wasn't intending to buy or not--but at least she did something different in making hers. It was unique, and it is something I remember all these months (a year?) later.

  17. Shana,

    I will watch yours. Just send me a reminder when it comes out. BTW, I'm totally intrigued by your Lord and Lady Spy title and cover, so you won me over with only one exposure. :)

  18. Great topic, Catherine! When they were all the rage, I really wanted to create one, but never got around to it. Now I think they've kind of fallen out of fashion, so I don't see the point.

    BUT, at Nationals there was a lot of talk about "additional content" for the readers. Rather than a book trailer to promote the book(s), I'm contemplating how I might be able to use video in another way to have some of that extra content readers want. For instance, I think it was Victoria Alexander who made little videos and put in them *in* her ebook as links. Then you could flip to the video of her *talking* about that point in the book. I've also thought about doing "readings" on video that people could find on YouTube, or maybe even enlisting my actor and professional videographer friends to film scenes from the books. These are all of course pretty big undertakings and since I don't have much time to write as it is, they may never see the light of day. LOL! But I think there are ways to use video that are more interesting and creative than simply a promo trailer.