Platforms are all the rage these days — and a necessary item if you’re a writer. During a recent chat on Twitter about platforms, the sub-topic of book trailers came up. Seems there’s two camps on the matter, but first let me explain what a book trailer is.
Like a short preview before your movie starts, a book trailer usually consists of video and/or still pictures and text that entice the viewer to know more about your story. Having written many advertisements and other collateral over the years, I liken book trailers to marketing pieces. They’re designed to lure the horse to water. But will they make him drink?
According to a Wall Street Journal article from 2008, “There is scant evidence . . . that the average book trailer actually has much impact on book sales.” Some say this is because there’s no good way to track the results of a trailer, unless it’s the only marketing vehicle you’ve got for your story. Sorry to say, if all you have is a book trailer, you need to read up on marketing blogs such as the one written by Shelli Johannes-Wells.
Curious, I asked my fellow agency writers what their thoughts were on the matter. Book trailers received, on average, a big thumbs down. Some indicated that book trailers scream “self-published.” Another writer noted that a crappy trailer hinders, while those that are done professionally may help — but at great expense. Additionally, a participant on Twitter’s #writechat said that an agent told her it’s a turn-off when the writer does their own cover art and other promo items for their unpublished work. During the same chat, two more writers chimed in about how book trailers entice the readers to want more, stimulating buzz if your readership likes them.
Ugh! Where does this put you and me — the people who are interested in platform building, even if that means utilizing an untested and somewhat unloved vehicle like a book trailer? You can always try to make one and see where it goes. One helpful outline on how it’s done can be found at Claudia Jackson’s Web site. Her post, How to Make a Book Trailer, is very eye-opening on how the process chugs along. Granted, there are other ways to make a book trailer happen, but Claudia’s post was a very clear read and inspired me to look into the art and soul of book trailer building on iMovie. With her help, and a bit of crazy lady mental driving power (just go with me on this), I created a rough book trailer that I love… and that may never see the light.
Why go to all the trouble of making a book trailer if I plan on keeping it on my desktop for all eternity? I think that, for me, the book trailer is a satisfying way to see my work off the page and on the stage. If I choose to post it, I’ll be darned sure it’s perfect. Hopefully, it will reel in a few readers instead of turning them off. But until I make that decision, I’ll sit back and watch the great debate unfold before I decide if it’s time to unhitch my trailer and send it on its way.