Book Trailers?

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While he was combing through non-work emails accumulated over the weekend, PG saw one about book trailers and how great they are.

He tried to remember when he had last viewed a book trailer and came up empty. He tried to remember the contents of any book trailer he had ever viewed and had a similar result.

PG is a visual kind of guy and remembers all sorts of other videos he’s seen over the last several months.

So, a question arose in his mind (it was a waking-up sort of mind, but should not be dismissed because of that fact alone) – Does anybody watch book trailers? Do they actually sell books? Has any reliable person or organization documented a measurable positive impact a book trailer had on the sales of a book?

Since book trailers are often used as part of a book launch, has anyone been able to ascertain what a book trailer added to the launch in the midst of all the other promotional noise?

PG did a very cursory search to locate book trailers that might have been noticed in a positive manner and found The Six Best Book Trailers of 2018.

Here’s the Number One Best Book Trailer of 2018:


Having no experiential basis for judging how this book trailer stacks up against other book trailers, PG is not in a position to say whether it belongs on any sort of Best Book Trailer list or not. It may well be better than all other book trailers released in 2018.

However, in the continuing contest to capture online eyeballs, for PG, this wasn’t captivating video. It was not nearly as interesting to watch as Mr. Enjoy, Gianluca Vacchi, social media influencer and DJ, in his orange Santa suit, which PG posted yesterday. (It occurred to PG that Mr. Enjoy might want to pitch his services to Random House.)

PG suggests that book trailers don’t just compete with other book trailers for online video attention.

Book trailers compete with Mr. Enjoy and Selena Gomez (149 millon followers) Kylie Jenner (133 million followers) and Christiano Ronaldo (133 million followers) on Instagram plus PewDiePie , video makeup maven Jeffree Star and a 7-year-old boy named Ryan who Forbes says made $22 million last year on YouTube (Warning: the YouTube channels start playing video w/audio right away).

But PG could be wrong.

Are book trailers worth the hassle and expense for authors?

Is Noah Hypnotik the cream of the 2018 crop of book trailers? (When PG pulled up the Noah Hypnotic book trailer, YouTube showed it had been posted in July, 2018, and had collected 249 views. Ryan’s featured toy video was posted three weeks ago and has 3,366,659 views.)

13 thoughts on “Book Trailers?”

  1. Assisting in a middle school library, I see book trailers aimed at the 12 to 15 year old crowd every year before the Scholastic Book Fair is held. Those trailers work well to let the kids know what books will be available at the sale. As future purchasers of adult fiction, the kids are being groomed to pay attention to such things in the future. Perhaps book trailers will be more popular when a group that grew up with them ages into adulthood.

  2. “But PG could be wrong.”

    Na, ya ain’t wrong, just more ad types hoping to make money – and maybe a touch of trad-pub trying to convince indies that they are still good for something …

  3. I’ve seen a few trailers – at least I think I remember seeing them, I could just be suffering from a delusion brought on by too much rum and late night net surfing – but they did nothing to convince me to buy a book.

    Maybe I’m old, but a book is a READING experience for me. Moving pictures won’t sell me a story, a well-written description and snippets of the text will get me to read because I want to know what the author’s voice and style is like before I buy. Save the trailers for the movies.

    IMHO, just because you can hire someone to make a sweet video presentation doesn’t mean you can write your way out of a paper bag, so they just don’t convince me.

    • I agree completely. It is a reading experience and I expect to READ any promo. Similarly, I expect a movie trailer to be a video. I will often read the IMDb description as well. In general, I am more apt to AVOID clicking on any sort of video, unless it’s a home repair project and i’m specifically looking for an instructional video. Otherwise, I am able to read whatever I’m looking for quicker than watching the video. But I am a lifelong reader. Maybe a video trailer we just feel better to people who don’t read, but what’s the point?

    • Honestly, I thought a proper book trailer would be, get this, the book’s logline artfully set to music, with cover art or appropriate artwork– think of the sci-fi / fantasy artwork that fans put on videos for Two Steps from Hell. Add the tagline if you have one. Loglines are the descriptions, about 300-characters / 40 words that you see in emails from BookBub or wherever.

      I would read the loglines anyway, so I guess they could be jazzed up with music and art. I once saw a book trailer that did exactly that, for a historical adventure / romance. That’s honestly as far as I’d suppose an author would go, if book trailers are going to become “a thing.” They’re the cheapest kind to make, too.

      • Something like the text block crawler at the start of the classic STAR WARS movies? I think Powerpoint can do that. Overlay it over a relevant clip (stars, clouds, a churning hurricane, a mountain scene, a full moon, whatever) and fade in the cover.

        Only question is where to deploy it? I don’t think Amazon allows videos in the listings. Author page? Author website? Youtube would allow it but most fiction clips there are conspiracy theories and crackpot “secret histories”.

        • The text crawler would be a variant. But you’re on the right track. Imagine if each line of something short and sweet like this:

          ~ In a time of ancient gods, warlords and kings…
          ~ A land in turmoil cried out for a hero.
          ~ She was Xena, a mighty princess forged in the heat of battle.
          ~ The power…the passion…the danger.
          ~ Her courage will change the world.

          … Was set to have artwork for each line, much faster than what “Freya” does for her fan music video here for TSFH. Just click on each song in the video’s track list, and imagine the art work switching every five seconds for each line in the Xena intro. With fade transitions, the whole trailer could be about 30 seconds. Slightly longer if you add intriguing pull-quotes from the book.

          If not Powerpoint (I forgot it existed), one could easily do this with Windows Movie Maker or iMovie or Photoshop. I believe the first is still around, you just have to download it for free from Microsoft. I used to use WMM all the time just to set cover art with songs for uploading as video, when a music reporter wanted to post music he was reviewing. Easy peasy.

          But yes, where to put it … Amazon does allow trailers. AG Riddle’s trailer for Winter World (it’s linked to the main trailer in PG’s post) is on the same page as the book at Amazon. It’s in a fairly obscure location on the page if you ask me, in the Related Video Shorts section, just above the About the Author section. I’d have to wonder if it ever gets clicks there. The author I was thinking of in my first post had hers on the landing page for her book on her website, though. I never thought of asking her how effective it was.

          The only other use-case I can think of for a book trailer is for when the author is doing Kickstarter or the like. I gather those fundraising sites prefer video even for literary projects.

  4. The number one trailer — “Strange Fascinations” — just made me say “NO!” out loud. But to be honest, the blurbs would have done that, too:

    “Guaranteed to mesmerize readers and leave them altered.”

    Nope. I never buy books that are hyped on the basis of “changing” me. That always signals that it will be a dull chore to get through. And the guy with his eyes closed is not compelling; he strikes me as exactly the kind of character I can’t stand to read about. Notice how he’s not doing anything? Just sleepwalking? I like proactive protagonists, thank you.

    But I did click on a few other trailers. I think I’ll check out “The Tiger at Midnight” simply because the trailer alerted me to the author’s existence. It didn’t move me, but it didn’t make me viscerally hate it, either.

  5. Having a bad book trailer would be as helpful to your sales as a bad book cover, unless you’re Steven Spielberg. I wouldn’t do it. You’ve already got enough areas to f%$k up your book’s chances. Why add another? Also, if you put it up on YouTube, then you’re probably just going to waste valuable marketing time trying to drive people to your book trailer rather than to the book itself.

  6. I bought a book trailer in 2017 for my “then” new book, Hell’s Bells – A Justice Security Novel. I thought it turned out pretty well for what I paid for it, but I don’t know if it helped sales.

    Here’s the YouTube link, if anyone wants to view it:

  7. I like the idea of .gif trailers that are quick one-liners about the book. At most, I won’t watch a trailer that’s over 30 seconds–the same amount of time I give to a cover and synopsis.

  8. I recently saw a short trailer, less than 30 seconds, for a military romantic suspense series. It contained taglines, covers for several books in the series with a background that made sense for MRS genre. She put it in her newsletter as a ‘fun way to share my experience.” I’m sure she posted it to Amazon and several FB groups that allow trailers. It can also be used for Rafflecopter image. I’ve just started with Instagram, so don’t know if trailers are accepted. I thought she did a good job creating buzz for the series.

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