Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Book Trailers

One of my favorite parts about going to the movies is watching the previews before the feature begins. As a matter of fact, if I don't get to see them, I feel cheated somehow. It's part of the whole experience for me, like popcorn, Raisinettes and an overpriced bottle of Dasani. Deep down, I know a trailer is just a glorified commercial, but getting a brief glimpse of Harry Potter and The Half-Blood Prince just makes my day a little brighter.

What is it about movie trailers that are so appealing? They are the best parts of a film stitched together to whet the consumer's appetite. Some are even better than the films they promote. So how could this type of advertising work for a novel?

Book trailers, that's how.

So you're shaking your head right now - well, check this out. It's a book trailer for a debut YA novel, Soul Enchilada by David Macinnis Gill. The title alone piques my interest, the book trailer - fun and scary at the same time - makes me want to run out and get (I'll have to wait until next week!)

I'm not sure how new the concept of a book trailer is, but with the advent of YouTube - anything is possible. Do a search for book trailers on YouTube and a myriad of titles will pop up. Some are a bit more homespun than others, and some are actually done by fans as more of a tribute than an actual trailer. Take a moment to view a few and I defy you to walk away without being intrigued by at least one of the stories.

I honestly don't know how I feel about this. On the one hand, it's darn cool. In this day of shrinking houses and non-existent marketing dollars, a book trailer is yet another way for an author to get the word out there about a book. On the other hand, unless you have some video prowess or a friend who does, making a book trailer probably isn't cheap. Or in the very least, it must be time consuming.

One of the most magical things about reading a book is that it's personal - you can visualize the characters however you want. Would watching a book trailer that depicts the characters in a certain way take away from that?

So what do you think? Are book trailers like visual jacket flap copy - a tool to entice a reader to buy your book? Or something you'd rather not have to deal with?


  1. Okay - SOUL ENCHILADA seems too scary for me to read. That said, though, the trailer is cool. There are a bunch of good ones on youtube.

    When the time comes, my nephew is a film student! For a batch of home-made pop tarts, I'm sure he'll help his "Special Aunt Meg."

  2. I'm in the opposite camp on movie trailers. I often feel like I've seen the movie after watching the coming attractions.

    But book trailers -- love 'em! The good ones pull you in without giving anything away.

  3. The trailer sets the tone, but I don't know if it told me enough to make me want to read the book.

    This all feels like we're going the way of self publishing, which maybe isn't such a bad thing. By doing stuff like this, writers can take their destiny in their own hands rather than wait around for the publishers to get things cracking.

    I do know that I'm going to go out and promptly employ some tech-savvy kid to make a trailer for my book :)

  4. As a guest speaker at a conference, Gail Carson Levine was asked if she minded having movies made of her books because the visuals interfered with how her readers' pictured characters and scenes. She said absolutely not, anything that sells more of her books is fine with her.

    I feel the same way about book trailers. Seeing The Adoration of Jenna Fox trailer makes me want to read the book even more than I already did. So, they work.

  5. I only heard about book trailers about four months ago, before then I didn't even know they existed. I've seen commercials for books, but not trailers. It definitely appeals to me. I've also seen some horrible ones!

    Toni - hey! (Love Under the Banyan Tree, btw) Yes, I agree that this is a great way for writers to take their destiny in their own hands. It's a great promotion tool.