Book trailers: Yes or no?

Book trailers are short videos designed to promote your books like a movie trailer does for a movie. But are they effective?

I haven’t read this book, but the obviously professional production and the VERY short run time caught my eye

The Yes Camp

One theory of marketing says that every time a potential customer sees your product (read: book) name increases the likelihood of a future purchase. The tipping point, in this theory, is that it takes seven of these exposures before someone makes a decision to buy.

A book trailer can be one of these exposures. Realistically, odds are low that you can definitively trace any particular purchase back to any particular marketing tactic, but rather the collective total of those exposures. Anything you can do to help get your book out there and gain publicity and most importantly eyes will help your sales in some way.

Although book trailers are used more and more often, they can still be a unique way to catch the eye of a potential readers. Award-winning and bestselling authors use them (well, their publishers do). They’re a fast way to catch someone’s attention and convey a lot of information about your book in an intriguing way.

Possibly the biggest advantage is that a good, interesting book trailer is inherently share-able, or it should be if you manage it right! People who see your book trailer and get excited about your book, or even just the trailer, can post the trailer to their blog, Facebook or Twitter feed, exposing even more people to your book. This can be especially beneficial for mid-list and self-publishing authors.

Teaser trailer for my friend Don Carey’s book. Legos!

The No Camp

Like many people, I don’t think I have ever seen a book trailer and thought even so much as, “Hm. I might like that.” In fact, the only times I’ve purchased a book after watching a trailer, I’d made the decision to buy before I’d seen the trailer.

Additionally, book trailers can be expensive. They’re all too often amateurish, and that will never help your marketing efforts. The “medium mismatch” of the printed word and the visual storytelling of film sometimes doesn’t work out so well, and you have to consider whether book trailer viewers are your target audience at all.

In short, the no camp varies from apathetic to militant opposition to this marketing tactic, which they decry as a useless waste of time and money.

Making the call for you

Whether or not you decide to do a book trailer for your own book is a personal decision. Here are a few factors I think you should consider:

  • Do you have the video software and skills to do it yourself? (There are several free video editors.)
  • Are you willing to learn?
  • Do you know (of) someone who can and will do it cheaply and well?
  • Do you want a book trailer?
  • Do you have realistic expectations of the results?

Have you decided? Great new if you’re in the “yes” camp: next week, we’ll look at how to make an effective book trailer!

What do you think? Do you want a book trailer? Would you make it yourself? What else would you ask yourself before deciding? Join in the discussion!

2 thoughts on “Book trailers: Yes or no?”

  1. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a book trailer, but I have seen commercials for books on TV. They have influenced me to buy the book, but not because of the commercial itself, but rather because then I knew the book was out and I should go put it on my Amazon wish list.

    I’ve seen a couple for James Patterson, prolific page-turner author, and there was a mention at the end of Castle for one of the “Richard Castle” books. (Fun read.)

  2. Hi Jordan,

    Interesting topic! Well, I’m gonna be squarely in the “yes” camp – I started a small video production company last year and booktrailers are one of the focus points. It’s a fun medium to be working in (coming from a bookselling and film theory background) and it’s always changing. I’m looking forward to following your blog – if you get a moment, I’d love to hear what you make of the trailers that we’ve been building… Cautious Train Booktrailers.

    Thanks, Tom of Cautious Train Productions.

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