Thursday, August 12, 2010

Book Trailers: Business or Fun?

I’m taking a course on how to create book trailers. Why? Well, much to my husband’s chagrin, I like taking courses—all kinds of courses. Secondly, I love book trailers. I’ve wanted to learn how to create them for several years now. Finally got up the nerve to give it a try. I’ve resisted only because I’m not very techie and didn’t think I could keep up. So far so good. During the past week I’ve created my so-called script, researched some professionally made trailers, worked at identifying their weaknesses, and studied various fonts. There’s a lot more to learn. If i'm not too embarrassed, I'll share it with you when it's completed. Maybe. :)

Book trailers are probably the equivalent of a back cover blurb come alive. The trailers that annoy me are the ones that don’t tell me anything about the plot of the book. I don't want to see flashes of hero and heroine looking sexy; I want to know what the book is about. Also, it’s a little disconcerting when the hero/heroine look different from the beginning of the trailer to the end. Not enough pictures of the same model? It’s tricky portraying a young heroine then showing her again as a mature woman. In trailers—just like in our writing—every word counts, but every picture counts too.

We writers complain about writing synopses or pitches or back cover blurbs. Seems to me creating a book trailer is excellent training for just those things. In fact, I’ll go so far as to say the book trailer should belong to the unpublished. There! I threw it out there. What a great way to pitch to an editor or agent, by showing them our mini-movies of our books. Can’t you just see agents going to a particular site, viewing trailer after trailer after trailer, then requesting the full manuscript based on how well we've shown them our book? A visual query.

Book trailers are definitely fun, but yeah, I agree, questionable: really, who are they for? What are they supposed to do? Does anyone actually run out and buy a book based on the trailer they just viewed? Can they turn a potential reader away from the book?

I think book trailers are supposed to be fun for everyone involved—the fans and the authors. From a professional view, consider this: publishing is reaching a point where we authors are going to have to beef up our promotion big time. I know it's always been that way but seems to me even moreso now. We need to shine the spotlight on our books like never before. Self-published books rarely make it out of the author's home town. POD and eBooks can certainly get lost in the shuffle if no one has ever heard of the publisher; they do little promo. It always comes back to the author and how we get our names out there. When you look at the magnitude of publishing, can’t you see how we fall through the cracks?

Book trailers are one more way to get ourselves attention. Yes, I believe they can help sell our books--but only if we make them exceptional. Yes, they can turn a reader away if we don't put as much thought, time, energy, professionalism in them as we do everything else we create--our synopsis, our query letter, our blurb, our pitch… even our business card. There’s an art to creating the book trailer.

To study book trailers by the dozens, go here. You can also Google your favorite authors to see if they’ve created trailers for their books. I ordered Guilty by Karen Robards a couple of days ago, based on THIS TRAILER. Why? The trailer's not exceptional but it did show/tell me just enough that I knew Guilty is the kind of story--threat of the past--I like to read. This is a pretty powerful book trailer advertising Walking On Broken Glass by my friend, Christa Allan. Do you have any favorites? Share them.

Don’t let your education of book trailers stop here. Investigate them and make them work for you.


Carole said...

Very interesting. I thought book trailers were just for the already-made-it authors. Not for those of us trying to get our first book published.

Jess said...

Carole, they are for the published authors but WHY do they have to be? Why can't we use book trailers too? I love my characters and my story... I'd like to see them come alive on the "little screen." :)

Seriously, I don't know why unpubbed writers can't use trailers to help them market their books. Maybe someone smarter than I am will chime in. :)

Kris Tualla said...

Jessica - you have just nailed the problem. DO trailers sell books? There isn't any data that says yes. Can they HURT a sale? I believe so. If it looks sloppy, the tease is too vague, the text improperly spelled, punctuated, capitalized... I won't buy the book. So there seems to be a sweet spot in the middle where a good trailer might get someone off the fence.

This is EXACTLY why we need to make our own. I cannot believe that a $700 book trailer could currently induce 1000+ EXTRA book sales needed to break even on the cost!

Part of the problem is that the trailers are splattered across YouTube. A smart web-entrepreneur should create a site where trailers could be centralized and grouped by genre: the go-to place for a new read. THEN they might have an impact! Know anyone? :)

Kris Tualla said...

PS - Carole: I made my trailer LONG before the book was going to print. Why not? It certainly can't HURT! If we can build an audience BEFORE our books are out, that nothing but good.
It's linked at:

Jess said...

Kris, thanks for stopping by. I'm thoroughly enjoying the class.

As far as that smart web-entrepreneur goes .... :) I wish I had the youth, the savvy and the $$$ to try it. I really believe this would work, and that it's just a matter of time before someone does it!

Charles Gramlich said...

I didn't know they had classs for that. Sounds like it could be helpful. I wouldn't even know where to start so I hope we will get some scoop from you once you've finished.

Jess said...

Charles, I know you don't really care for them, but I can only imagine what wonderful trailers you'd create for your books.

Mini-movies are so much fun. :)

christa said...

Thanks for the link to my book trailer! Book? Don't ask......long way to go, short time to get there.

Thrilled to read that you're writing!