Monday, July 12, 2010

What are you watching?

by Jim

We think a lot about book trailers here. How effective are they? Does anyone watch them that isn’t the author’s husband, cousin, editor, or Facebook friend? And how do some trailers begin to get tons of hits while others wouldn’t stand a chance of going viral even if they ran on the back end of a Susan Boyle video?

We’re still in the beginning stages, even if the book trailer has been around for a few years. Do you think they’ll last? Do you watch them? Are they the best advertising for books?

To help you make a decision, I present a book trailer that offers something I know the internet loves: pretty animals! From DGLM's own, Thomas French:


  1. This one is simple but quite effective!

  2. I have discovered that book trailers are effective when they are well done. When they are created like a movie trailer, with actors that give dialogue - even if the actors are obscured in shadow to keep them unrecognizable - and good music. The picture slideshows that I've seen around the internet, sometimes with book quotes on them and sometimes voiced narration, aren't cutting it. They're not interesting to watch, they don't keep me on the edge of my seat, they don't make me want to know 'what happens next'.

    Also, I think book trailers can be more effective when made for sequels.

  3. I agree with Melody. As much as I like tigers, and though the song was nice and the pictures were well done, I found myself getting a little bored, just reading praise, looking at animals and not knowing the title of the book.

    Book trailers set up like movie trailers, especially well done ones, would be pretty pricey, I would think, unless the author DIY'd the whole shebang. I think the picture slideshows are a nice, potentially cost saving alternative, however, I think they should be kept pretty short--even shorter than this one.

  4. Book trailers, I fear, do not interest me in the slightest. I've watched one only once or twice, and the only really memorable one I've ever seen was the one they whipped up for Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters.

    But I've never bought a book based on a trailer, and even a well-done trailer is not going to make me want to buy a book by an author I don't already know and trust. What sells me on picking up a new book is what has always done that: a look at the words and the story. Give me a well-done blurb, maybe a chapter excerpt, and that's really all I need.

  5. I'm afraid I don't really "get" book trailers. However, I did download a sample chapter of "Stay" to my Kindle, based on the trailer. (I wouldn't have given the book a second look without the trailer.)

    So, for me at least, one of them worked.

  6. I have also wondered many times whether book trailers are here for good, or if they're just a trend. I tend to thnk it's the latter, as they have absolutely no effect on me, but I am aware that others respond to them.

  7. This trailer for me was a dud. Not enough actual info as it went, the music was bleugh, and the photos ... not interesting, really. They're just photos. I expected stupendous photos to advertise a zoo book. Stun me. More animals than just the same 3 over and over. If it's a book about just those three, then THAT should have been made clear. As it was I got bored and looked away after a while. I don't know who these people are singing praises, so their praise isn't worth anything to me.

    I don't think book trailers work in their current incarnation. At least, not for me!

  8. I love a good trailer that is itself a work of art that complements the book. It should make a person say, "Oh my god. I NEED that book," or "I can't WAIT until that's available." Funny or clever ones are the best, but some books need a darker, edgier approach. As long as it is done well and doesn't look put together by some friend's cousin who knows a guy, I think book trailers can be a great asset, especially if they are posted on an author's page or even the agency or publisher websites.

    When a person browses movies online, most theaters have links to watch the trailers. I think the publishing industry would greatly benefit from the same kind of promotion for the books they are most excited to offer.

  9. As someone who graduated from Advertising and Marketing - I am extemely excited to see more and more well done book trailers.
    I don't think this trend is going anywhere. It's an excellent way to advertise upcoming titles and I think we are going to see a lot more of them in the future.
    I predict ten years from now, book stores will have TVs in them showcasing new and upcoming releases (like video stores do now).

  10. Yes, I watch book trailers and it really helps. Some are not that good though.

  11. Book trailers don't really work for me UNLESS they stand out. For example, Maggie Stiefvater's trailers for Shiver and also Linger are works of art in themselves. She hand cut hundreds of pieces of paper to create stop-motion book trailers. The concept was subtle (in other words, no straight-from-the-book quotes or photo montages banging you over the head) but she managed to capture the tone and essence of her book in under a minute. Another good example -- Steve Brezenoff's Absolute Value of -1, which uses quirky original drawings.
    The thing these trailers have in common is an innovative approach. The authors thought out of the box using nothing more than their own creative mind, some paper, ink, background music and a little computer magic. The result? The audience gets a real taste of what to expect when they read the book, not another well-meaning attempt that just didn't go anywhere.

  12. I don't watch book trailers unless they are recommended or come with a posted link to something I'm reading. I'm usually much more impressed by the ones that have actors--I forget the title, but the trailer for a historical novel on Cleopatra's daughter was impressive and emotionally engaging.

    I don't think I've yet felt any inspiration to buy a book just from watching the trailer, but it's possible that cumulative exposure which includes print and other media could have an effect. Most advertising works that way.

  13. Likewise, book trailers don't make me buy books either. They're good entertainment and good publicity. If I come across Zoo Story in the bookshop I might now remember it now (I enjoyed the trailer), but the trailer itself has no impact whatsoever on whether or not I decide to buy a book.

    What really works for me is author presence and sample chapters. I come across the author somewhere on the internet (many times through blogs or interviews), decide I'd like to know more, pop across to their website, read some sample chapters and before I know it I'm over at Amazon ordering their book. Incidentally, if they have book trailers on that same site, I usually skip them (the trailers, I mean).

  14. Fascinating post and comments. As an author, I don't look at booktrailers as entertainment for someone who has never heard of my book. Some of the good ones work that way, though. :-)

    I think of a booktrailer as a digital business card. Mine are always short (less than 30-seconds). While they are up at youtube, they aren't really intended to win over a potential reader who accidentally discovers one of them on a random lurk.

    Rather, the book trailers links are sent to people in the business I am otherwise interacting with so they have an idea of what I do as a writer. They also serve as a visual add-on when I am doing an on-line interview and are available to anyone doing an on-line review. In short, their main use is as an attachment to something else, and NOT a stand-alone selling tool.

    You might also notice, as I have, that publishers are posting booktrailers at their websites for featured titles. Again, this is in conjunction with other information about the book and not intended as stand-alone entertainment. :-)

  15. Most authors will be limited in funds in producing their 'vook'. Here is our effort for my new novel, Captain Cooked. But what is fun about the production of this, I turned to a young friend of the family who had created his own comedy website, all graphic work created off of his computer. At 14, Hunter is very talented. Of course, his father assisted, but only advisory. And cost? $100 and he gains credit for his future resume. Can be seen at You Tube, search "Captain Cooked" or here below. I am a big believer in the book video to sell, but the true issue you are out there trying to find eyes for your trailer as you are trying to find readers for your book. Where is your time best spent?
    S.P. Grogan

  16. I hadn't heard of this book until you posted this trailer. Which was excellent. But I'm a sucker for animals, and also, the title is amazing. Life in the garden of captives? So hooked. Just bought it.

  17. Don't watch them unless they happen to show up. Caught one for Tess Gerritson on TNT last night. Hadn't seen a book commmercial on tv for a very long time so I watched it and thought how it didn't seem as interesting as the cop show I was watching. Truth be told it seemed wanting in comparison. Perhaps that is the downside of placing book ads in shows that are more engaging than what the book ad is promoting?

  18. I do recall many many moons ago a radio ad for Grisham's The Firm. He was an unknown at that time having written the modest seller, A Time To Kill. His publisher really got behind The Firm and this was one of the ways they did it. Until that day I hadn't ever heard any sort of electronic ads for a book. I still remember that because at the time it was so new and unique.

  19. I think that when you already have a love of a series, they are a nice touch. The recently released Chronicles of Vladamir Todd was a great trailer but it gave nothing in the way of plot.
    Richelle Mead's series (my absolute favourite) had such a poor trailer that if I hadn't read the books, I probably wouldn't have. That trailer is now deleted from my memory. (Sorry, Jim).
    I think trailers are a waste of money. They are more likely to hurt your chances than enhance them.

  20. I wrote a post on this topic a few months back and--my, my, but the response has been interesting. Enough so, that I now periodically post book trailers on my website for my readers to rate. The majority of what I've found? The responses fall somewhere between tolerant and outright hatred. The trailers which go over well all border on parody (Sense and Sea Monsters, Abe Lincoln--Vamp Hunter, Libba Bray's Going Bovine...). The serious ones must to be really well-done and simple (Cronin's The Passage or Suzanne Collins' The Hunger Games). My personal thoughts? A book trailer is better left UNDONE if it can't be excellent. Otherwise, you get people like me who write posts just to complain about "the cheeze factor. It’s bad. And frankly, I, as a legitimate reader, am disturbed."

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