Hey all. I'm working on a radio story about this whole "book trailer" trend for CBC's Definitely Not the Opera. (If you're new to the concept, book trailers are short videos that authors and publishers are creating to promote their books. It's a relatively new idea, and it's meeting with mixed reviews from the book-loving public.)
What's your take on this? Are book trailers weird, or just good marketing? Have you seen any awesome book trailers, or any that are absolutely terrible?
My friend Alison Gaylin's trailer for her book TRASHED is pretty good. But her husband is a filmmaker and he made it for her.
I did a really rudimentary one for my book SECONDHAND SMOKE while playing around with iMovie.
That said, I honestly think book trailers are a little weird in that being able to read an excerpt is a better idea. But publishers are all hot and bothered over them because it's a "new" marketing tool.
A friend of mine, Toni Andrews has one for her upcoming book "Beg for Mercy". Here it is: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HzvidMWV-1Q.
I think it's an interesting idea.
I think the idea is interesting and could produce some cool results (like this one) but are much more likely to produce dreck like this. I think the main difference lies in the use of tangible visuals to advertise an intangibly visual medium. Which is why the first one works (for me) and the second one doesn't. Well, that and production values.
I have a couple of comments that are rather lengthy, so I'll put them into two posts.
Here is a list of benefits for authors who use trailers-
What is the benefit?
Longevity, branding, fan base expansion, cross-genre highlights, name recognition, engages the viewer, multi-utilization, cost effective, target-audience opportunity and just plain fun!
1. Longevity. When a print ad has found its way to the bottom of the bird cage, a video will still be on the internet where people who develop an interest in reading, or an interest in a topic that leads them to your book, can find it. Video remains on the internet for an extended period of time.
2. Branding. When doing an overall push of a brand for whatever reason (new series, switch genre, etc.) you can tie in the look and feel you’re going with through your video. It helps people visualize the brand.
3. Fan base expansion. By utilizing video you’re letting a new group of people find out about you. People have evolved into visual creatures and they are used to having their entertainment given to them through visual means. Where movies, video games, music and television have been able to reach these consumers, books have historically been left out. Not anymore. Those consumers are now potential readers for any author.
4. Cross-genre highlights. It’s hard to show someone that you write both romance and suspense or mystery and comedy just by using a print ad. By using video you can get across the idea that your book is cross-genre. The benefit to that is, if someone was turned off by, say, a sexy book cover, they may change their mind when they see all the action/adventure play out on screen. And still, you can show an element of romance or some other genre as well to appeal to a wider audience.
5. Name recognition. How many times do you have to see or hear a name before the typical person recalls it? Well, with video you have the chance of having your name pop up online more often when you have a video. Your name goes into the video description, so you can search that, and it is in the video itself.
6. Engages the viewer. Statistics from various sources tend to agree that video is more engaging since the viewer must activate a video player before they can watch the video. They choose to watch. Unlike TV where commercials are presented to you, like it or not. Then, they are engaged by watching the video as well. They can then choose to comment, put it on their own site or email it. It’s a “word of mouth tool” that can be passed from one person to another, making it viral.
7. Multi-utilization. With a COS video not only can you have it spread all over the internet and given to booksellers to use, but it can be formatted for television and movie theaters. These are some of the least expensive television commercials being made right now. And our contacts with Comcast have made it extremely affordable to buy TV spots. A deal we have with a movie theater chain lets us put our specially-formatted videos on the big screen in such desirable areas as New York City and Los Angeles for very reasonable rates. We have one video play in NYC over 900 times for approximately $2000. Some budgets are even smaller.
The video can also be sent to sales people and in press kits.
8. Cost effective. For the price of a small print ad in the NY Times you can have a live action book trailer. For the price of a small print ad in most magazines you can have a mini teaser (non-live action video). It has more uses and re-uses than any print ad ever will.
9. Target-audience opportunity. You can target established readers by putting the video on your website, blog, MySpace, specialty-sites (genre specific), Reader’s Entertainment TV, bookseller sites and book club sites. You can also target an audience not by what sex they are or where they live, but by what specific topics they have an interest in. If someone is interested in cave pearls, dragons, the military, wizards, magic, playing poker, ballroom dancing, fashion, New York City or any other numerous topics of interest their search can lead them straight to a book video. Here you have someone already interested in the topic the book is about, or has elements of. People searching for specific interests but not specifically books, are what we term “potential readers”.
Imagine how the book industry would do if more people turned to books for entertainment! We now have a tool that can help that happen.
10. Fun! Music videos are ads. People tend to forget that because of how entertaining they are. Book trailers are not meant to look like commercials. They are meant to appeal to a person’s sense of fun and entertainment. That’s why people are willing to pass them around or put them on their own sites. Anyone putting together a commercial that is nothing but a book cover and an announcement has missed the boat entirely!
Who Will Watch a Book Video?
There seems to be two main groups of people. Not so much those who like book videos and those who do not, but, more so, those who are traditional readers and those who are not.
Traditional readers are the ones most likely to use the back cover blurb, an excerpt or reviews to choose a book. They are established readers. They don’t need a video to get them to pick up a book. Although, many will watch them to see what’s coming up. And, to them, some videos are really just announcements that the book is out. The reader will buy it regardless.
Non-traditional readers are those who usually watch TV, go to the movies, play video games and spend far too much time downloading to their iPod.
You have to really reel them in to get them to pick up a book.
With more and more competition for the entertainment dollar, the publishing industry must expand their thinking beyond traditional advertising and marketing. The main focus of industry marketing needs to be expanded to encompass more than just a limited set of known factors (i.e. traditional readers). As an industry, we must reach beyond what is our known demographic and into the unknown. We must evolve to create and nurture new readers.
Get them while they’re young! But, in order to do so, you must speak to them via a medium to which they have grown accustomed. That medium is a visual one. Games, movies, and special effects are all becoming bigger and better with each passing year across every segment of the entertainment industry. How is the publishing industry supposed to compete with that?
Now, there is a tool that utilizes this, the most popular medium, and it is being used to sell books.
Whether or not you like them, or even use them, if book videos bring in more new readers, aren’t they a wonderful tool?
Of course, there will always be those of us who love to go to our local bookstore, touch the pages, read the back copy, and enjoy the unique smell of coffee and books.
I do have stats, but wasn't sure if that would just bore everyone into tears.
Here is a link to a recent Publisher's Weekly blog about book trailers-
I saw a book trailer for the first time last night - for a James Patterson novel, titled You Were Warned or some such.
It looked cheesey and I thought it was kind of pointless, especially for Patterson. I would imagine anything he writes is a best seller.
You can't blame the publishers, I guess. Their job is to market books, and in today's world, if it's not on TV it doesn't exist.
The first three here:
were so bad that it made me never want to read again! Dreck!
Not commenting in any official capacity, but to send off a link to some great work in book trailers (I'm not biased or anything) that we've done. Especially for some new books coming out this fall and winter:
The best book trailer I've ever seen was for The Mystery Guest, by Gregoire Bouillier: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UALgbX7tnz8
I love the idea of them, but I've yet to come across one somewhere other than a publisher site or book blog, which is essentially preaching to the converted, or at least mildy interested. They ought to be on tv.
Do you know any love websites where I can find romantic movies' reviews?
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