Monday, May 24, 2010

To Book Trailer or Not To Book Trailer

So, now that Forever Freed has a cover (!), I've been thinking a lot about marketing and promotion.  The release date is months off at this point, but I figure it never hurts to plan ahead.

Among the many possible options for marketing books, it seems book trailers are becoming increasingly popular.  My press has a specific page for the book trailers of its authors' books.  You can find them on YouTube.  Many authors have them embedded in their websites.  People link them off Facebook.  Book trailers are 1-2 minute-long videos that, like trailers for movies, preview the plot of a book.

I've spent a couple hours over the last week watching a variety of book trailers.  In general, book trailers offer a series of changing static images with non-proprietary music and text captions, rather than voice, narrating the plot.  The images of characters are usually stock models.  Only occasionally have I seen the use of moving pictures or voiceovers in book trailers.  The text narration usually gives about as much information for the book as a three-sentence pitch might.  Then, at the end, the trailer includes publisher/purchasing information and the author's website.

Some book trailers are well done:  the images are interesting, unique, change often enough to keep viewers' interest, and are even timed dramatically with the music.  Some do a good job of using limited special effects to hook you in visually, and coordinate all of that with an effective plot summary.  Others, though, feel amateurish.  Now, let me say that, since I have no knowledge myself of how to make these, I don't mean to criticize the efforts others have made to learn this.  But it makes me wonder about their usefulness.  The ones that struck me as amateurish had some of these characteristics:  images that changed so slowly that I got bored; funky special effects/animations that made me feel like I was watching a PowerPoint presentation where every slide came zooming in from the side or spinning in like a newspaper in an old-time movie; words that appeared one letter at a time that made me frustrated with the slow speed of the information; misspellings (yikes!); and cheesy music--and this is a tough criticism since an author can't just use that iconic theme song they had in mind the whole time they were writing to promote their book.

Despite all of this, I find myself leaning towards wanting to make one (or, rather, have one made...) for Forever Freed.  I think it could be fun and it seems like, even to have one made, a pretty reasonably priced form of marketing (take a look at Goddess Fish Promotions:  their packages seem very reasonable as do their a la carte fees:  But, I still can't decide whether I think book trailers are actually useful.  And this is where I need your help.

To the readers out there:  do you watch book trailers? do you enjoy them? do they make you buy a book? or are they something you track down for a book you've already bought and really liked?

To the writers out there:  do you have book trailers for your works?  do you have any information on whether they shape sales or earn you new readers?  are there other benefits you've found from using trailers?  In short, are they a useful form of marketing?

Thanks for reading,


Linda said...

Hi Laura!
I write contemporary romance for TWRP and did a series of videos for my sexy-fun novel I've Got You. It helped in promotions and got readers atttention. I found it to be a good marketing tool. I designed and wrote them and my son produced the videos. Overall-worth doing! :) Thanks for a great blog topic! Linda Engman

Laura Kaye said...

That's great, Linda--feel free to leave a link to your videos. I'm sure everyone would enjoy watching them!

Redheadmom said...

Ok,I just worked on something - in a weird way - like this; a memorial video and with the right music and visuals I think they can intrigue, set the tone and feed the imagination of the reader - ie flavor of the place/culture of the story without killing imagination. If I were doing one right now, it's be 1/2 classical and one half Muse for the music and photos, not too specific,but evocative.OK my .02 - that and a smile still are just two cents! Have fun with this

Jenna Howard said...

I made a trailer for a 5 year old story of mine out of curiosity to see what it was all about. And so began the addiction.

I make trailer for myself before I even write the story because I use it as a way to stay on track with my story.'s my plot tool because I can't plot to save my life. I'll check my iMovie clip frequently while using screen shots from stock photo sites. I like having something that I feel conveys the story for myself.

But like Redheadmom said, have fun with it.

Deborah Schneider said...

I created a trailer for my book, "Promise Me" and had a friend write a county-western song just for the trailer, (a Western). When I advertised on Facebook, I could see the number of YouTube hits double.
So, at least it was leading to more interest. I have no way of knowing if anyone bought the book after that, but it does make a good marketing tool.

Laura Kaye said...

That's really interesting anecdotal evidence, Deborah--thanks for sharing! The making music part of the book trailer is a little intimidating to me, and part of the reason why I think I'd be leaning towards hiring someone...

Susan Kaye Quinn said...

My publisher is working on making a trailer for me (thank god I don't have to do it myself). I don't know about the effect on sales, but as long as it's not cheesy, I think it can't hurt. I definitely look for them and enjoy them, and I think they're great content to add to your website. In some ways, they set a "tone" much better than a 3 sentence pitch, because music and images give a feel for the book.

Laura Kaye said...

Oh, so lucky your pub is doing it, Susan! Good for you!

Susan Kaye Quinn said...

Yes, the completely rock! :)