A good trailer will garner attention for a book and author. And as debut author Julie Kramer pointed out, having a video is great if you're going to be interviewed on TV. It's a helluva lot more interesting--and memorable--than a static shot of a book jacket. Videos can be particularly useful for "genre" fiction such as mysteries, thrillers and romance because they can create a mood that lures in readers, as the last four do in the list below.
I've seen book trailers that are really good, some that are so-so and some that are total yawns. HarperCollins believes in trailers so much that they're producing them inhouse. GalleyCat has been posting several each week; see Web & Tech.
A book video, just like a TV ad, has to TELL & SELL: Tell what the book is about and sell it to the target audience. It has to answer the Three Big Questions:
- So what?
- Who cares?
- What's in it for me?
Here are some trailers that tell & sell in an enticing way:
- FORESKIN'S LAMENT by Shalom Auslander
- SCHLEPPING THROUGH THE ALPS by Sam Apple
- QUEEN OF THE ROAD by my client Doreen Orion
- YES, YOU'RE PREGNANT, BUT WHAT ABOUT ME? by Kevin Nealon
- PRIVATE ARRANGEMENTS by my client Sherry Thomas
- THE REINCARNATIONIST by M.J. Rose
- STALKING SUSAN by Julie Kramer (published yesterday!)
- WAKE by Lisa McMann
After I forwarded it to GalleyCat two months ago, Book Launch 2.0 went viral. I think everyone in publishing saw it and sent it to everyone they know; I got it at least 3 times. But though achingly funny, the video had nothing to do with the book it was ostensibly promoting. In fact, I couldn't remember the author or book title--or even whether the book was a novel or nonfiction--to save my life. I had to search my blog archives: Dennis Cass, HEAD CASE: How I Almost Lost My Mind Trying to Understand My Brain. (One of these days, I'll contact Cass & ask what effect the video had.)
Last year, there was a big hoopla at BookExpo about the big-bucks "mini-feature" for Ian McEwan's ON CHESIL BEACH. I watched the trailer online. OY. Read my assessment in What's Not to Like? Let Me Count the Ways...
What I wonder most about book videos is whether they have a positive impact on book sales. I would love to see hard data, if there is any.
One concern I have is that book trailers will be added to the ever-expanding list of things that authors "must" have to stay competitive. Which means that they'll be spending time, and especially money, on what are basically commercials for their books instead of writing their books. My position is that every author doesn't have to have a blog, a social networking page or book trailers. (Every author absolutely should have a website, though.)
My second concern is, where are all these book trailers going to be shown besides online? There's been talk of having TVs in bookstores constantly running videos. Everywhere one goes nowadays, whether the supermarket, the mall or the swimming pool, there's music blasting over loudspeakers. There are TVs blaring at the dentist, the auto repair waiting room and the airport. To me, bookstores and libraries are the last secular havens of quiet enjoyment. I don't want that peace shattered by endless loops of book trailers.