Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Do Book Trailers Sell Books?

Lately, there’s been a lot of chatter about book trailers. Some like them. Some don’t. A few trailers are amazing, but must’ve cost a bundle. Most writers can’t afford to hire a professional to put one together for them. Instead, writers will often tackle the beast by its horns and make their own trailer. Sometimes this works out great. Other times, not so much.

But the time, and possibly money, put into a trailer can amount to quite an investment. Wouldn’t your time be better spent writing the next best seller? After all, great writing will sell the next book more than anything. Still, some believe book trailers will help increase their sales, so let’s take a look at both arguments.

Why a book trailer isn’t a good idea:

-It wastes time that could’ve been spent on writing or other marketing plans.
-Readers often don’t get the same level of tease and hook from watching a trailer that they’d get from reading the back of the book.
-Images of certain scenes or characters may take away from the experience when reading the book, leaving less to the reader’s imagination.
-Low budget and poorly designed trailers may have a reverse effect allowing the reader to believe the book is a bad as the trailer.
-It defeats the purpose. The reader reads to get lost in the words. If they wanted to watch the book, they’d rent the movie.

Why a book trailer is a good idea:

-It’s another way of getting the author’s name and book out into the world.
-If the author is targeting a younger crowd, this could be beneficial because teens and the younger generation of adult tend to be more into newer technology and probably embrace this form of marketing.
-If the book is an e-book, it might make sense to have a book trailer, something a reader would see online.
-It would bring life to an author’s website.
-It gives readers something to talk about. The more they talk, the more the word spreads, and the better the chances of selling the novel.

What do you think? Do you have a book trailer? Did you create it yourself? How long did it take? Do you feel it was worth the effort? Have you ever bought a book solely based off the trailer?


  1. Okay, I have to be honest. I've enjoyed some trailers, but none has sent me out after a book. I'm not fully behind their purpose, or the need for them.

    I'd only do one myself were my publisher, down the line, to request one.

    Now, smile! Sorry to be such a negative commenter. ;)

  2. I know, personally, I can never come up with a trailer that would be worth anything. So I won't be making my own. If, however, I get into a position to afford one of my own, that's another story--but for now, I'll abstain from dabbling with it. I think a poor trailer can hurt more than help a fledgling author. The mark of an amateur is never a good thing to be associated with.

  3. I'm not sure on what the verdict is. I've seen some trailers that really make me want to run out and buy the book, but I didn't. I think maybe its a preview of the future?

  4. I don't think I've ever bought a book based on a book trailer. However, I have added a couple of books to my wish list after seeing the book trailer. Like you said, it all depends on how it's done.

  5. I do have a book trailer and no I did not make it. So it didn't cost me time, money or effort. Is it effective? Who knows? But it's one more way to target a generation weaned on multi-media.
    BTW - I don't watch book trailers. I'm with you - if I want visuals, I watch the movie!

  6. My gut instinct is trailers probably don't help much more than any other sort of marketing/promotion--and there are plenty of existing marketing/promotion strategies for books that I doubt work very well either.

    What I'd really like, however, is for someone to find out how well trailers work, i.e. do some research, assemble a study. No one knows whether they work, not even publishing professionals. Everyone's just hoping they maybe-sorta do, and that's a weak business practice.

    My personal opinion is the only thing that draws people into a story is the power of the story itself. Thus, handing out a pen with the author's name on it is probably useless, but handing out a bookmark with the cover photo on one side and the flap copy on the other might work.

    A book trailer, however? You have to be pretty savvy about movie production to convey a story effectively via images, and most authors don't have expertise in that particular kind of storytelling.

  7. I'm not particularly fond of books trailers, mainly because it takes away from the actual book. Its called "reading", not "watching". But hey, if you think it'll help, then go right ahead. There's nothing wrong with it, but I'm just one of those people that think a really good book will sell without the help of a trailer.

  8. IMO, book trailers are great for successful authors who want to treat their fans to a bit of lagniappe, but I've never bought a book because of a trailer - never would. And believe me, I'm always looking for an excuse to buy more books.

    If there were a single shred of evidence that book trailers increased sales, we'd have heard it by now. That no one is actually studying the effect of book trailers in the marketplace in a controlled methodical manner suggests there may be nothing to find. I don't understand why publishers (and writers!) are so willing to throw scarce marketing dollars at book trailers but not at the research that would prove they are, or are not, effective.

  9. I did make a book trailer myself...did it at home with Windows Movie Maker. Is it fantastic??? No. Is it awful??? No. I've seen some really bad ones and I think mine is kinda in the middle. I don't have too high of expectations for it. I'm a new author so anything that gets my name out there is helpful. It's just kind of a neat thing to have, I guess. Basically, it's the back flap of my book set to pictures and music. It's on youtube and is also promoted by a romance review blog who has a youtube page and posts tons of romance book trailers. Take a look:

  10. What a unique topic for a post!

    I'm not big on book trailers. I'd much rather gain insight about a book from the synopsis on the back cover, reading the premise of the book online (Amazon, etc.), or having heard about it from a friend or colleague.

  11. Nice topic, Lynnette.

    I'll be honest. I've yet to view a book trailer. I've heard all the jazz about them and oh once saw a commercial for, I think it was, a James Patterson book. But no, I can's see such a thing sending me out to buy a book. I'd rather see the cover and read the blurb to decide. OH, and the first couple pages.

  12. Book trailers are good in that they bring to your attention books you may not otherwise have read.

    I read The Lovely Bones but should I go and see the film?

    Books give you the opportunity to imagine characters and sets and if the film portrays things in a totally different way or leaves out parts of the book you found interesting, they are usually disappointing.

    Should you read a book first or see the film first or just do one or the other?

    Great blog by the way. We have a little blog where a group of us just chat about life in general. You are welcome to join in any time you are passing. We have the adult content thingy on only as a precaution because we do sometimes post jokes or discuss news stuff. We are pretty tame really :-)

    Thanks for an enjoyable read on your blog.

  13. I like the idea of book trailers in theory. They are something I'd do when I reach 'Nora Roberts' status.

    I doubt readers buy books based on the trailer - I wouldn't. If I'm going to read the book, I'll have to buy it based on something in print. (like the blurb or author's note)

    That said, I need to comment your point about spending time on the next book. The book trailer is part of the promotion to sells books. Neglecting promotion will probably negatively affect the sales of your next book since no one would have heard about you.

    That's my two cents