Books Trailer Tuesday: (a spiel)

Book Trailer Tues Book Trailer Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by me, Anastasia. It’s very simple to play along: find a particularly awesome book trailer, embed it in a post, then proceed to coo all over it. Or, y’know, talk about whatever you want to talk about. Why did this book trailer catch your eye? Why do you want to share it with people? Did it make you want to read the book? Why was it effective (or not)?

Instead of a video, I bring you a spiel! Big shout out to Carolyn, my buddy in trailer-trawling and the one who got me to get off my butt and write this thing. Thanks, C!

We now interrupt our regularly programed schedule…

It’s been a little over a month since I started Book Trailer Tuesday, and I just realized I never said why I wanted to do a meme about book trailers. I also wanted a sort of “why book trailers are a good thing” post, like a redux of the audiobooks post except maybe less well-written.

I myself never liked book trailers until I ran into the Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters trailer. Now there was something I could sink my teeth into! Something that actually was entertaining and useful! And something that wasn’t the boring old text-on-top-of-stock-photos thing! This was an exciting discovery, lemme tell ya.

Then I got to thinking. Are there more awesome trailers like SSSM? Why haven’t I found out about them? Where are they hiding? And then I ran into some issues:

a) book trailers aren’t getting any credit for being a good thing.
b) book people don’t pay any attention to book trailers on book blogs. Off of book blogs– maybe they’re getting more attention? I found the SSSM trailer through, what was it, BoingBoing? Why aren’t book people watching or talking about book trailers?
c) something must be wrong with most of the book trailers out there if book people aren’t watching them– and if nobody else is watching them, either.

So I created Book Trailer Tuesday to fix at least one of those problems (the talking/watching part, I mean). And I also wanted to try working on the third thing: what makes a trailer effective? Or just good? What would make a trailer so good that both book people and non-book people would watch it? And how can trailers improve?

Let’s talk about that some more

My biggest problem with most book trailers is how boring they are. I’m sorry, but I don’t find words stuck on top of stock photos with royalty-free music playing in the background a very effective promotion for a book. It’s boring, and I don’t think it’d make anyone want to read a book except maybe friends of the author. (Maybe this is just me; does anyone enjoy watching those types of videos?)

A book trailer needs to be at least three things for it to be effective in promoting a book. It needs to be entertaining. It needs to be made well, with more thought than cut and paste put into it. And it needs to cross the boundary between bookish people and non-bookish people.

Basically, a book trailer needs to trick people into thinking it’s anything but a book trailer. (See: SSSM trailer.)

Book people are already naturally inclined to read things about books, which is why there’s so many book bloggers. We’re not fully sold on the video-book connection yet, but I think as those videos improve so will our appreciation and interest in them. But what about non-book people? What do they get out of a book trailer?

Which is my next thing: that book trailers mostly aren’t for book people, but rather they’re for people who spend a lot of time of YouTube and will watch whatever looks interesting. They’re for people who are interested in new media, and viral marketing, and who like wacky stuff like sea monster eating Edwardian dudes. It’s that crossover thing that’s important, and the lack of it is what keeps book trailers down in the proverbial mud, I think. How many trailers have audience crossover potential? Maybe five that I’ve found so far?

Wait, where was I?

Okay, so: book trailers are mostly boring, but there’s some really good ones that’ll appeal to both bookish and non-bookish people if only they get enough exposure in blogs like mine (and, well, BoingBoing). Now, how effective are book trailers in getting people to actually read the books they’re promoting? No idea. How many bookish people went out and got Sense and Sensibilities and Sea Monsters after seeing the trailer? (I totally did, yo.) And how many non-bookish people?

I have in no way been doing any research on that aspect of a trailer, and really this whole post is just me going off at the mouth. Maybe I’m totally wrong about bookish/non-bookish people. Maybe I’m just a weirdo who like viral videos too much and wants every single video promo to be one, whether it be for books or for milk. I’m also really entrenched in my bookish life, and I’ve forgotten what it’s like to be a non-bookish person. (Do non-bookish people even read books? Do they go into book stores and, remembering a trailer they saw, decide to buy a book?)

So either a) this whole post is crap or b) it’s THE COMPLETE AND TOTAL TRUTH and now I am your overlord. Pick an option that best suits your needs, please, then take two pills and call me in the morning.

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0 Comments

  1. I know I never encountered book trailers until I started blogging. There have been a few book trailers that I thought were very cool, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen a book trailer and thought, WOW. MUST GET THAT BOOK. To me they seem more like an interesting and occasionally entertaining exercise, than a means of getting me interested in a book. But I’ve enjoyed the ones you featured! 🙂

    • Thank you! And, yeah, I definitely think that trailers to bookish people are kinda equivalent to DVD extras: they’re nice, but they aren’t exactly why we get the DVD(i.e. book). I think we also focus more on written stuff to find books we like– reviews, emails from the publisher, Twitter, cover blurbs, etc. So visual stuff like trailers kind of fall to the side.

      But I wonder how it is for people who don’t rely on written word stuff? Do they watch TV book club shows? Do they look at in-store displays? Do they rely on word-of-mouth? What?

      Now I really wish someone would do a study on this stuff! If I was a sociology student I totally would, lol. 😀

  2. Great screed! I continue to be fascinated by your book trailers aren’t for book people idea. I tend to come from the camp (I’m an advertising copywriter by day) that says, all advertising is cumulative, so trailers are just one leg in that for some people, specifically book people. But that doesn’t mean I disagree with your idea that they are for non book people. I think it’s a cool idea, and Likely it’s a little of both. It probably worked that way for SSSM. And frankly, my zombies trailer, too.

    I also love your rationale for starting this, too. I’m going to put my rationale next week.

    One other thing: there was this discussion on twitter the other day about ereaders simulating page turns, and how lame that is, and it reminded me of early www sites that tried to look like a desk, with notepads and paper-clipped stuff. And maybe those book trailers we don’t favor are just too wedded to the book back blurb idea, and the ones we do like have broken free from that and they’re their own animal, fully utilizing the movie medium.

    • Well, I definitely think the BEST and most EFFECTIVE trailers are the ones that can cross over between audiences, like I mentioned in my post. And in that way I think book trailers need to be more for non-bookish people because bookish people already have so much promotion going on in their world (reviews, Twitter, etc.). Non-bookish people need a new “hook,” kinda. That’s why I like the SSSM trailer and the other ones I’ve posted for BTT– they have crossover appeal. And, yeah! The ones we like have gotten away from that back of the cover summary thing and found a new niche, almost. They’re much more interesting than a back cover (if I wanted to read a back cover copy, I’d read the back cover, you know?).

      Looking forward to seeing your own spiel next week! 😀

  3. Hi – popped over here from CJ’s place. I raised the question there of how you come across book trailers. I’ve happened upon them – on ‘big blogs’ and I suppose they must be on author blogs etc. But from what you’re saying, the hope seems to be that people will seek them out and then they’ll become ‘viral’. It strikes me as a slim hope and I wonder how many authors are spending a disproportionate amount of time on them given the likely return. But then I’m a hopeless Luddite who wouldn’t dream of looking for book trailers. Interesting post though!

  4. Kay

    I am happy that I have (at last!) found someone who thinks like me 🙂

    I have always wondered where did the entire “book trailer” concept come from. Here’s why (Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters excluded, that was indeed a great trailer and it made me add the book to my TBR straight away): they usually take a lot more time to watch than it would take for a reader like me (and the other book lovers too, who presumably like to read) to read those few sentences presented there. Why anyone would want to waste precious time for a few sentences (words actually, at the rate of two or three per 15 seconds or more; not even a complete sentence) when that time could be better used with — I don’t know, reading a review of the book, or at least its back blurb that trust me, always says A LOT more than book trailers do.

    And no, I am sorry to say that, while I understand the concept of “cumulative advertising”, this is not the case. Why? Because I for one NEVER watch a book trailer if I can help it (and I usually can)(S & S & S excluded, it came very recommended to me and was indeed cool). And if I do happen to watch one by force (I once had to, for some contest) I hated every moment (because it didn’t add anything to what was already available on the book!) and it reflected rather poorly on the said book instead of the desired opposite.

    Sorry for ranting on for so long, but this is really a pet peeve of mine: if we all bookish people love to read, then why the need for video? Wouldn’t we all rather READ about a book than anything else?

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