Book Trailer Advice From Someone Who Doesn’t Really Care For Them

As a writer and a movie buff, I should be excited about the option of making a “book trailer,” a movie-style promo for a book.

Confession: I just don’t get it. Most of them seem like cheap movie trailers that go really slow. Though I believe vigorously in the cross-pollination of pop culture genres, mixing the visual/aural of movies with the wordy-word-word of books causes a clash of cultures. You got a movie trailer on my book! You got a book on my movie trailer!

However, the social media gatekeepers swear by multi-media, so what do I know?

Here’s one that I watched all the way through:

Sizzler Editions Adult eBooks

Hot, shirtless guys. Just like with movie trailers, showing some nubile flesh probably doesn’t hurt.

Also:

  • It moves fast and doesn’t have long pauses.
  • There’s no reading of title cards involved, which always makes the pace too slow for me because I read fast.

(Of course, this is a professionally-produced trailer and I understand most authors can’t afford to pay an announcer. I’m just sayin’.)

  • The music doesn’t put me off. It’s generic and energetic without being intrusive. Every writer needs to choose music that reflects the tone and genre of their book. But book trailers that use classical music make me feel like I’m falling asleep covered in dust. Country music means it’s not a book that will speak to my soul. If you’re going to go Chicks With Guitars, try Melissa Etheridge-style chicks and avoid that sappy stuff like they play on some TV shows. (Grey’s Anatomy, I’m looking at you.)

Check out one of my favorite movie trailers of all time: Iron Man

Assuming you can’t get Robert Downey Jr. or AC/DC, what can you do?

Feed the story question in in bits and pieces, broken up by fast-paced clips that show the character and the tone.

The Oblivion Society by Marcus Alexander Hart
Moves along nicely and the comic book art works well for the subject and the attitude. The music sounds like a Quentin Tarantino trailer, always a great thing if you can get it. I might skip the overlong reviews and just do a line or two. Otherwise, if I were looking for a book that reminded me of an indie/mumblecore/Kevin Smith-ish film, I would go for this.

Maybe the best thing about doing your own book trailer is that it gets you to focus the story and it makes you think of who your audience is.

What do you think? Writers, have you found book trailers effective for marketing? Readers, do book trailers work for you more than say, a good review? Do you still prefer to read the book jacket blurb, even on an e-book that doesn’t have a jacket?

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6 Responses to Book Trailer Advice From Someone Who Doesn’t Really Care For Them

  1. Terry Wright says:

    Hi Chris. I am a book trailer buff. I watch every one I come across. I’ve also produced my own book trailers. The trick is fast pace and a “back of the book” -like synopsis. Title script must be short. I’ve seen some trailers that used lines and lines of text on nearly every screen. Snoozer! And it has to end with a high stakes cliffhanger. Having a book trailer on your Web site makes the visitor’s experience more interactive and adds value to the time s/he spends on your Web page. I also recommend an interactive FREE excerpt (where the reader actually opens a book and turns the pages) instead of just text on the screen. Click my Web site link to see how I use these tools. And “Iron Man” rocks.

    Like

    • Chris Devlin says:

      Terry,
      Your book trailers are dynamic and very well-done, cheers.

      Obviously, this is purely a matter of taste, but I’d still rather just read the blurb myself, in about 12 seconds, than spend minutes having the words fed to me a few at a time. But I think I’m in the minority. Interactive and multi-media is definitely the way to go, if you can do it well.

      Thanks for your comments.

      Like

  2. fpdorchak says:

    I have mixed feelings about trailers, aussi. Don’t want to be put off but poor quality or bored by content. Also as mentioned, don’t want to be thinking I could have read those same words in a fraction of the time, versus having them piecemealed out over some 3 to 6 minutes. Great post!

    Like

    • Chris Devlin says:

      Frank,
      Thanks, glad you liked the post. I’m always hesitant to swim against the stream, but I do often feel puzzled after I watch a book trailer, especially one that most people are cheering for. Clearly, it’s just not going to be my thing.

      And I think the time factor is a big thing. Sad but true–I spend so much time on social media as it is, that extra few minutes does make a difference.

      Thanks for your thoughts.

      Like

  3. The music doesn’t put me off.
    This could be the biggest problem with book trailers. The “wrong” music will turn off large swaths of your audience. Hell, even the “right” music will annoy at least a few of your potential readers.

    If I quote a song lyric in my book, at least readers aren’t forced to listen to that song right then and there… 😈

    Like

    • Chris Devlin says:

      Yeah, I’m kind of finicky about music, too. I like music that’s quoted in books, but movie trailer music can be great or not.

      Good point and something to bear in mind when considering if you want to do a book trailer yourself. I’m going to pass on this particular form of book promotion. My heart’s just not in it. (Clearly.)

      Like

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