Book Trailers for Promotion, Yay or Nay?

| Posted in Book Marketing, Videos & Podcasts |


If you haven’t heard of book trailers, they’re just what they sound like: short videos, similar to movie trailers, that are designed to generate interest in your book. If there’s a film producer inside you, waiting to get out, you could create one yourself. If not, there are numerous companies willing to make one for you (for a fee, of course).

The question is…

Are book trailers worth the time and/or expense?

Judging by the view count of most of the ones I’ve seen on YouTube and the prevailing opinions on the KindleBoards forum…

Probably not.

Most of them just don’t get watched often enough to do any good.

YouTube, the biggest site you’ll likely upload your book trailer to, is similar to Amazon: it gets a lot of traffic, yes, but that doesn’t mean any of it is going to come to your page.

If you start a YouTube channel, you have to promote it, just like your blog and your books and everything else. Most people who become popular on YouTube post new videos regularly, much like running a podcast. If you’re just planning to post the one book trailer, then it’s unlikely you’ll get many page views or build an audience.

That doesn’t mean you can’t create a promotional video for your books. If it sounds like a fun project, give it a shot. In addition to Youtube, there are other sites where you can upload it (Veoh and Blazing Trailers are a couple, and Smashwords allows you to upload a trailer to your author page as well). That said, if you’re already feeling bogged down by all the online book marketing you’re trying to do, you can give this one a pass.

My videos

I tried creating a couple videos this week, mostly for kicks. They’re more about book promotion, with a little humor sprinkled in, than a trailer for my novels (though I did plug Encrypted). I used Xtranormal, a free program that does everything except write the script for you. Xtranormal may not be enough for creating a book trailer, but if you want to try something similar to what I did, you might find the site fun to play with.

Here’s my YouTube channel and the videos I did this week. Feel free to subscribe, comment, or send me a note on there, and I’ll be happy to come give a thumb’s up to your book trailer or whatever other videos you’ve posted.

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Comments (13)

I’m four months in with a video that was launched just ahead of my latest book. I still have no idea if, or how much, it helped with sales. I get the occasional “cool video” email, but there’s no real indication that those people followed the trail from video to book.
Not that I’m complaining, mind you. I got kind of lucky with the trailer for Box of Lies. A producer out of Pittsburgh took a liking to my earlier books and offered to create the trailer for my next one. She’s producing another one for my upcoming book, as well. I’ve got to take on a bit role in that one. I plan to be difficult on the set, go all Charlie Sheen and such.

The way I figure it, a book trailer can’t hurt. Yours are funny, Lindsay. I’m subscribed to your channel.

I’m not big of book trailers. They just don’t click with me and therefore I don’t click on them. It’s probably because I’m used to movie trailers with live actors and with the few books trailers I’ve seen it’s images collected that have to do with the theme of the book and whatever is written on the back or cover flaps. Then I think, “I’ve already read that, tell me something new.”
Maybe I haven’t seen enough, but still, I don’t feel a spark thinking about them.

Mark, you’re already a YouTube superstar! I should have had you write this post. 🙂

I have had a couple people click through to my website from my videos. You can put your link in the description of your videos and on your channel page.

Thanks for subscribing, LC! I see you’ve only subscribed to a select few, including a senator. I’m in elite company!

Patricia, I agree that most aren’t that special. I have come across some pretty snazzy ones though. I think in the end it’s just a matter of whether creating one sounds like a fun project or not.

I would love to do a book trailer and keep coming back to it. The learning curve always discourages me though. I’m sure it’s not hard, but I hate the idea of taking the time to learn yet another piece of software.

As for the effect it has on me as a reader? I enjoy watching them. However, I don’t think it influences my buying decision. Of all the book trailers I’ve watched, only one book made it to my to read pile cause the trailer amused me. Did I buy the book? No. In fact, I think I ended up taking it off my pile a few months down the road because wanting it was just wishful thinking.

Really nice and interesting article! 😉 Don’t forget to check out my ebook cover gig! 😉

I’ve read some of the “biggies” in the business say not to sweat the book trailers. One even said it’s a confusion of messaging–video instead of words…

I’m totally avoiding it. Sticking with a blog as my hub and using real human interaction ( even on FB & Twitter) as the fulcrum to leverage my platform. (pretty nice mixed metaphor there, eh? 🙂

The video are cute but your scripts are awesome!!

Reena, you might have fun with a video since you have artistic skills. But, yes, it sounds like a project for when you’ve got nothing else burning to do. (I’m not sure when that would be since I’ve seen your to-do list. *g*)

Thanks for checking the videos out, Alexander. Hubs, fulcrums, it’s all good for promotion. 😉

I’ve found trailers to be very useful when I introduce my book “The Quill Pen” to potential reviewers. It cuts down on a lot of typing. After introducing myself and stating my purpose, I give them the powerhouse line, “If you found a pen that wrote the future, would you use it? What if it wrote in blood?” then offer a link to a 2-minute trailer they may watch if they’re interested. (See, Lindsay? I can work a punch into anything, too, lol!) It’s been watched and the book’s been accepted nearly every time.

Book trailers can be affordable, stylistic, and effective at promoting your book. Take a look at some of ours.

Thanks for this post, and I love the site/blog! I keep coming back here for advice and inspiration.

I have a film degree and have done several video productions, so now that I’ve self-published my first novel I’ve been giving a lot of thought to book trailers. I wrote myself a long essay on the subject, but I’ll spare you the lecture and get to the heart of it.

People watch movie trailers to get a glimpse of all aspects of the movie, including production value, actors, and effects. Modern book trailers, on the other hand, don’t show you the quality of writing or the meat of the book. They only TELL you that so-and-so thought it was well-written, and that the characters are great.

Even the book trailers that have expensive sets and actors aren’t a true preview of what the reading experience will be. Johnny Depp might act in your book trailer, but viewers know they won’t see him in your book, so it does little good.

Book trailers use a “higher” medium to promote a “lower” one. This is counter-productive, especially when you don’t have the budget to make the trailer impress.

I propose a truer form of book preview: not just a sample of the first thirty pages, but a comprehensive package like what a movie trailer provides, only in writing. It would include actual writing from the book, snatches from various chapters that describe the main characters, the setting, the conflict, and maybe one or two heart-stopping scenes. Show potential readers what they’ll actually be buying.

This is all theoretical at this point. Anybody have any thoughts on how this would work?

“I propose a truer form of book preview: not just a sample of the first thirty pages, but a comprehensive package like what a movie trailer provides, only in writing. It would include actual writing from the book, snatches from various chapters that describe the main characters, the setting, the conflict, and maybe one or two heart-stopping scenes. Show potential readers what they’ll actually be buying.”

This should all be part of the “collateral package” (see my other post) these are great “freemiums”, give-aways and should be used- in a strategy.

For example, longer samples, interviews with characters, etc. can all be the keystone content on your author website behind a fan gate- here, get these free goodies- just give me your email.

You then promote this content across your other social platforms to drive folks to your website. but don’t necessarily just give it away either.

You use all of these pieces of “collateral” to build one upon the other- here you aren’t giving away the content, you are selling it for the price of their email in your email marketing list. You sell the freemiums for the right to put your message in front of them again- like gating and fan gating it.

You then reconnect to those people and continue to get your message in front of them- if they don’t even notice you for the first several times your message crosses their path, you need a strategy for getting it in front of those same people again.

There are great pearls of wisdom in conventional business and marketing that can be applied to the Author Entrepreneur.

I look at it this way, the link on yourtube to your book video is one more piece of collateral in your bok marketing arsenal. It will not in and of itself drive sales to your book like a movie trailer would for a movie.

But, you want to have a wide and deep arsenal of tools (collateral in marketing speak)- things like your cover image on your facebook page- it is another way to connect people with your book.

You want to have your message in front of people, the more often the better. There are fancy studies that it takes the average consumer a certain number of times running across your brand for it to register. But, if you only have one message you send out, or only one image you use you over and over, you will saturate people’s tolerance or interest in you pretty fast.

You need to have a range of tools and a strategy for using them together. Rather than trying to develop a new following on a new site- like Youtube, you can use your video there as a piece of marketing collateral that you envelop into your social media strategy. Youtube is good because it’s the largest but also because it embeds everywhere very nicely. As you say there are many other places to promote your video in the form of listings- this is a much better backlink than your profile name on Youtube. Backlinks equal page rank equal visibility.

But I also must admit a vested interest in the topic. I produce trailers as part of the larger book marketing services I provide around the mission of helping authors learn to apply business savvy to their marketing efforts.

Thanks for the great article.

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