Watching and Waiting: Book Trailers and How They Help You

If you’ve been following book promotion and marketing trends on the Internet, then you know that one popular way that authors resort to is releasing book trailers. Book trailers are essentially what it says on the tin: short clips that capture the gist of a book, the visual version of the wordy blurb you’d see on the back of books. Or, yes, like trailers for movies.

Book trailers, as Marisol Dahl says in her article for The Write Life, may depict different things. You, as the author, might be talking about your book, for instance. Or a scene from a book is depicted visually – whether through animation, or a series of illustrations. What is important is that the book trailer accomplishes what it’s meant to accomplish: communicate what your book is about, and communicate it in such a way that your viewer would want to read it. It’s a good way to publicize your work, and if done well, could very well be one of the causes of your book getting spikes in sales.

Of course, making book trailers are attractive — but they’re also not quite easy. There are a lot of book trailers, especially given how social media and video streaming sites like YouTube are very accessible to the public. It can be difficult to get your trailer to stand out. So a professionally-designed, well-crafted book trailer would certainly gain the advantage – but it may also cost a significant amount of cash, depending on who you are and who you hire for your video.

So what am I really saying here? Should you or should you not have a book trailer produced? As with many other questions an up-and-coming author should be concerned with, the answer is not exactly black-and-white. Instead of asking that question, what we can ask is, “what exactly are the benefits of making book trailers?” Once we gather answers for that, then you can decide.

There are certainly a lot of benefits that can come from making book trailers. In this article for The Creative Penn, Joanna Penn asks Book Frenzy Studios’ Jerome McLain why video plays an important part in marketing your book. And the reasons that McLain gives are great ones: video is shareable and can be shared on different social media accounts; video is cost-effective, and; video’s popularity ensures that a lot of people will be able to see your book trailer, which may, in the process, garner you new fans. One excellent reason that McLain points out, however, is what the book trailer can do for the relationship between author and (potential) reader:

Video can foster deeper connections between authors and their readers by increasing the KLT (Know, Like, Trust) Factor which is critical to book sales.

Book trailers can give the readers an idea of who the author is, making the author not just someone who wrote the book, but someone with whom the readers can connect to. Needless to say, the article itself is worth reading in its entirety (it has data showing you how book trailers can boost sales), and highly informative.

The possible benefits of putting out book trailers has been outlined, and can be summed up with one idea: trailers lead to exposure, which leads to more readers.

Of course, the benefits are there. But actually making a good book trailer is another issue. One doesn’t even have to stray too far from common, everyday examples. Take movie trailers – they’re everywhere, aired on television, sitting down your social media newsfeed, popping up on the “Recommended” section of video streaming sites. People become the judge of whether a trailer is good or bad – and often this manifests itself in whether or not individuals actually go out and watch a movie because they thought the trailer was good. Whether or not the movie itself is actually good is something else. What matters is that the trailer essentially sold the movie.

It’s not so different, with book trailers. Good book trailers can convince readers to buy your book. But, as Marisol Dahl again points out, there are reasons why book trailers may not be the best option. Beyond potentially costing a lot in terms of how it is produced – especially if you want a good book trailer – there’s the risk of producing a not-so-good one. And, as Dahl says:

A poorly made book trailer sticks out. It can damage the image of both you and the book, and it can hurt sales.

Because they’re so memorable, book trailers that miss the mark can turn into painfully public marketing failures.

So the formula sounds simple enough: make a good book trailer and leave a positive, lasting impression on your readers. Make a not-so-good one, and risk hurting your book’s sales.

This is, after it all, much easier said than done. Marketing books can always present risks, and the book trailer is just another dimension. Done well and done right, it can help.

So, back to the first question: should you, or should you not, make a book trailer? As you can see, we still haven’t arrived at a definite answer — only you can arrive at that. It will be helpful to ask other authors who have already marketed their books with the use of book trailers, or ask those who specialize in book marketing for advice. You can also do some research as well – find book trailers that you think are good, and take down notes, see what you can glean from them, and have a set of pointers for when you believe you’re finally ready to get your trailer made.

So, with all that’s said and done — happy book trailer making!

A Few Relevant (and Possibly Helpful) Links:

  • The link’s already way up there, but just in case you missed it, you can check out BookFrenzy Studioswhich specializes in e-mail and video marketing for authors.
  • Arielle Ford’s article “Why Make A Book Trailer” on The Huffington Post offers tips and notes on what makes a good book trailer – definitely something worth checking out.
  • Finally, if you’re getting started on looking at examples of good book trailers, this article by Shirin Najafi for The Rumpus rounds up a couple of great book trailer examples. You might want to take notes.

Jillian

Jillian is an English Literature graduate who loves reading science fiction and fantasy, and is a big fan of J.G. Ballard. She is obsessed with coffee, video games, and rottweilers, and keeps herself busy by writing and walking around a lot. She’s currently reading Jeanette Winterson and a lot of YA literature.

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