Wednesday, February 3, 2010

To Book Trailer or Not to Book Trailer?

I was wandering on the web this morning while sipping my DH's excellent coffee and I stumbled upon agent Rachelle Gardner's post on Book Trailers. Her blog is certainly worth a click, but the gist of her post is that book trailers are a completely optional portion of an author's marketing toolkit.


But they're soooo cool. I love to see a well done trailer.

Ms. Gardner argues they're pretty spendy and marketing dollars need to stretch.

I hear that. But for an author, a trailer is like imagining your book as a movie and that is the dearest dream of all of us. (Anyone who says differently is lying.)

But there is no empirical evidence that book trailers sell books, Ms. Gardner says.

Ok, she's stumped me. I have never bought a book based on a cool trailer. I buy books because I've read the author, know the author or had the author recommended to me by a friend or trusted reviewer.


But trailers are so the "done thing." What if we authors put together a trailer on our own, on the theory that it couldn't hurt to have one floating out there in cyberspace? For under $50, I can buy royalty free stock photos and have a trailer up and running in a couple hours. Being the thrifty sort, I confess I have done just that for several of my books (if you want to see them, there is a link to my YouTube trailers in the sidebar and the one for Vexing the Viscount is at the very bottom of my blog. You'll be scrolling a long time to reach it.)

But I'm no expert in that style of storytelling. And I worry that the amateurish feel of my trailers renders them a marketing drag rather than a plus.

I've also seen trailers out there (both professionally done and not) that give away so many plot points, reading the book becomes redundant.

I haven't done a trailer for STROKE OF GENIUS yet. (I did a fun online quiz instead! What kind of Genius are YOU?) So today, I hope you'll help me out. I'm looking for reader and writer input as I decide whether or not to bite the bullet and hire one done. I don't care if you like the trailers. I don't care how cool you think they are.

Have you ever bought a book based solely on a trailer? Has it made you click to a website to learn more? Have you decided not to buy, based on a shoddy trailer?


Jane L said...

Ok, Emily I don't know if I am a good source of opinion here. I know you always appreciate honesty and respect others honesty,so it here it goes.
OK MY OPINION, as a reader only, I don't want anyone throwing tomatoes at me!

I don't like the book trailers, ok I said it, I think they are a waste of time and money and I serious don't have time to click on , wait for the things to load, watch them, so on, so on, so on. I want to click, read the excerpt, read the reviews (sometimes) and purchase the book. Now Emily you know as a reader I am a loyal fan of yours. As an aspiring writer I respect you and your advise tremendously! I follow you to a point of friendly stalking LOL! But I have NEVER looked at your trailers! SORRY!
As an aspiring writer would I use it as a marketing tool? (I have a Marketing Degree) I am going to say I would not, but PLEASE by all means do what you feel is best for marketing your book. It is not high on my priority list even in this cyber world!

Lisa Cohen said...

Emily--I've never cared to watch a trailer. I can't imagine ever choosing a book to buy based on one. And I'm a pretty techno-savvy gal and love 'gee whiz' internet stuff. I think part of the problem is that I don't care to see what someone else's visual conception of the book is. Same reason I vastly prefer the book to most movies ever made from books.

Sandy said...


I have never bought a book by watching a trailer. Your readers have just convinced me it's a waste of time, and I don't have the time or money to spend.

EmilyBryan said...

Jane--Friendly stalkers always welcome! LOL! A marketing degree carries some weight since I have no expertise in that arena.

EmilyBryan said...

LJ--I hadn't considered that a trailer would intrude on a reader's imagination. Good point!

Edie Ramer said...

I've never bought a book based on the trailer. I'm more likely to buy if I see a blurb that sounds interesting. And if there's a fabulous excerpt, I will definitely buy it.

I'm off to take your quiz now. That sounds interesting. :)

EmilyBryan said...

Sandy--Glad to have saved you some money!

EmilyBryan said...

Edie--Be sure to let me know what kind of Genius YOU are!

Carol L. said...

I have never bought a book based on the trailer either. For the Author, previous and loved reads from that Author and okay, the cover sometimes and the book blurbs. I have seen several trailers but I prefer not to because if I get an image in my head about the hero and heroine chances are they look nothing like the actors in the trailer. :) So it doesn't matter one way or another about the trailers but if it helped an Author I loved or liked a lot I'd be glad to watch them. :)
Carol L.

Edie Ramer said...

Emily, I'm an artistic genius, of course. lol

EmilyBryan said...

Carol--Having lots of people watch a book trailer doesn't necessarily help an author unless they all run out and buy the book new (used books don't add a thing to publisher's coffers and aren't counted toward sales).

The only ways to support an author you like are:

1. Pre-order their upcoming title. This increases the order placed by big bookstores and increases the print run.

2. Buy their books new (preferably on the day of release so the sale will count toward bestseller lists and make it more likely bookstores will reorder it.)

3. Convince your reading friends to do the same thing.

Ok, that all sounds a little self-serving, but these are things I did not know until I was published. I figure others might not know too.

EmilyBryan said...

Edie--Well, of course you are! Anyone who writes as well as you has to be an Artistic Genius!

librarypat said...

I don't think a trailer would keep me from buying a book, but there have been several I've watched that certainly didn't make me want to buy one. There have been a couple of trailers that were really well done and brought out a part/feeling of the story that the blurb didn't catch. They did encourage me to buy the book. I don't think they are necessary, but if done well, they can't hurt.

EmilyBryan said...

Ok, Pat, we're back to the "it can't hurt" reason for having one. It sort of reminds me of my days in real estate. It doesn't impact the value of a house if it doesn't have a swimming pool unless it's the only one in the neighborhood without one.

So I have to ask myself if I want to be the only one without a pool.

mrsshukra said...

Hi Emily! I actually don't care for book trailers. I don't even view them. I rely on reader reviews more and I'm loyal to certain authors.

EmilyBryan said...

Etirv-When you say "reader review" do you mean the ones on Amazon and B& Or do you mean trusted review sites?

Mitzi H. said...

Hi Emily, I don't watch book trailers. I base my desire for a book on the blurb, reviews and recommends from friends.

EmilyBryan said...

Thanks for your opinion, Mitzi.

Sounds like, based on this sampling, that trailers are not very effective. "Can't hurt" is the best recommendation for them and that damns them with faint praise.

Ok, I resolve not to feel guilty about not having one.

Booklover1335 said...

Hi Emily,
this is coming kind of late. I LOVE a well done trailer, but I know they can be expensive. I haven't bought a book solely based on the trailer, but I have gone on to learn more about a book after watching it. (ie Amanda McIntyre's Tortured). I've also seen very amateurish ones that have put me off on buying a book.

So I guess my advice is...if you have the money to pay someone to do it, who is good at it, then I don't think it will hurt you and may entice some readers to learn more about the book. But if you don't have the money and are thinking about doing it yourself than I wouldn't spend the time or the money. Just do a good contest with a professional looking widget that has the cover, blurb... and offer to give away extra entries if a Stroke of genius is pre-ordered. Not to make a purchase necessary to enter to win, because I know you can't do that, but you can offer them extra entries if they do.