Book Trailers: Are They a Good Idea?

Speaking to fellow writers out there: Should you make a book trailer? Is it an effective marketing technique? It there a point to them? Numerous books, both self-published and traditionally published try to put out book trailers. It isn’t hard to notice that even book trailers from big publishers often only have views in the quadruple digits on youtube. Often, book trailers are underwhelming, and it is unclear to me if they actually help sales. Ninety-nine percent of book trailers I’ve seen did not make me want to buy the book. Why is that? Well, for one thing, they’re often boring. They’re slow paced, are comprised of static or almost static images, and have a few slow moving words here and there. A book trailer should be like a movie trailer. The point of it is to make the audience HAVE to find out what happens next. When you’re making a book trailer, watch it again and ask yourself, if you say a trailer just like it in the theater, would you want to see the movie? If you’re making a boring trailer, you’re just wasting money that could better be spent on other, more effective forms of advertising (unless you’re skilled enough to make the trailer entirely by yourself).

So the traditionally published books’ trailers are usually boring and not well circulated (this one has been out since 2011 from Harper-Collins, and has 12 views, as of this writing). What about indie books’ trailers? Often they’re boring too, not to mention amateurly done. Many of them contain stock pictures found on google and some text. Then there are those who go a step beyond, and use clips from various movies and tv shows. The problem with that is, ignoring the copyright issues, that they too look cheap and unprofessionally done. Oh, they can be interesting, but then you realize “Hey, it’s a clip from Iron Man! And that one is from Dragon Ball Evolution!” It will make people think of other products, not your work. And again, if it looks like it was made by a fifteen year old making an music video revolving around his favorite show, it is less likely to get a positive response from your audience, and less likely to be taken seriously.

Then there are the few, rare trailers that seem as if they’re advertising a movie. They have actual animation or actors, and it really seems unique. Until the very end, the audience isn’t even aware that it’s advertising a book. And they MUST find out what happens. I wish all trailers were like that, but even among the traditionally published companies who hire professionals, it is quite rare. The trailer for the self-published series, Mindjack, is one of the rare ones that fit this criteria.

Ultimately, unless you’re making something that would make someone need to find out what happens next, something that looks exiting and is professionally made (or close to it), you are likely wasting your time and energy investing in a trailer, and should probably not make one.


One comment

  1. I completely agree with you. I’ve seen so many dull trailers that I haven’t considered trying to do one myself. The two that my publisher put out were pretty lame as well. I saw one for a children’s book once that was really cute – the illustrations and child’s voice doing the narration worked well. I checked out the link to the one you liked, and you’re right, it was engaging – and way beyond my skills at this point. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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