Promoting Books – Do Video Trailers Work?

Phoenix and SingWhen I go to a theater, I like watching the preview trailers, not only for potential interest in a coming attraction, but also for research. How do these trailers work to attract moviegoers? What is the allure?

For movies, it’s natural to show clips of the new release in order to draw interest. The advertisement and the product are the same medium. The viewers see parts of exactly what they’ll get. It’s like sampling a small tidbit of cheese on a cracker at a grocery store. If you like the cheese sample, you might buy a whole block. The allure comes from a taste of the real thing.

The success of movie trailers led publishers to try the same concept for advertising books. Now we have video book trailers. But do they work? When viewers see these trailers, they take in a different medium. They are not seeing a sample of what they will get in the book, just a representation in another form. It is not a taste of the real thing.

An exciting and provocative book trailer can spark interest. It can be informative, giving potential readers an idea of the genre, style, and mood. My question is, do they work? Have you ever bought a book because of a video trailer? Did a trailer get you to investigate further? Please give me your thoughts.

Also, do you know of a book trailer that you think is great? Please provide a Youtube link.

Here are some of my book trailers. Comments are welcome on these as well.

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12 replies

  1. I haven’t seen a lot of book trailers, so I don’t think I’ve ever had a chance to see one that caused me to go out and buy a book. But I think as long as the book trailer is good, it can only help the author. I know that if I did see a really good book trailer for a story that sounded interesting, I would look into getting the book.

    Other than that, I think book trailers can be good for giving fans more material to get excited about. Especially considering how many fans would like to see their favorite books turned into movies 🙂

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  2. I haven’t actually seen any book trailers, though if they represent the book well I might look into the book. Although, watching a video clip does not always give the feel of whatever it is advertising; it would have to be done with a feel (as best could be done) of what the book is like.

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  3. It really depends on the type of trailer. I find that trailers with picture images and voice-overs don’t cause me to get excited about the book. It doesn’t mean I won’t read it but I won’t go out and buy it right away either. Book trailers that are like movie trailers are more interesting but they always seem to be trying too hard. For instance, your movie-like Reapers trailer started out very good. I liked the part with the voice-over with Phoenix. It very exciting and interesting. The rest of it seemed a bit long in my opinion. It was still good though. I find the thing that causes me to want to read a book most are fan films. Fan films usually take a scene from the book or something out of that world and turn it into a video. It doesn’t tell you everything about the world but raise questions about why the characters are doing something or why something in the world is the way it is. These questions are left unanswered and you have to read the book to understand them. For example, here is the link to a fan film for the book Unwind that got me to read the book. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9snP4HuRsr4 Hope that helps!

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  4. I haven’t watched many book trailers either, but what others have said about them needing to be done well to work is true.
    For me personally, I’m more inclined to buy a book if: (a) a friend whose reading opinion I value recommends it to me, (b) it’s endorsed by an author I like, or (c) it’s written by an author I like. Book trailers don’t normally factor into the equation for me, but that’s probably because I just haven’t seen many. 🙂

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  5. I’ve never bought a book based on a trailer, but when I watched Jill Williamson’s trailer for Captives (http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=Ke4tLyNKcXg) I decided to read it before any of her others. I think that it depends on the type of person whether a book trailer works or not. Just like people learn differently, I imagine what makes things look interesting would be different too. In some ways, I think it’s strange that they make book trailers because they’re visual and I like using my imagination and what the character looks like. On the other hand, I also enjoy watching book trailers so… Haha, I guess I don’t know… Thank you for the post, Mr. Davis.

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  6. Like others, book trailers don’t factor into my buying decisions, at least not as far as I can tell. The more bookish type is generally too dull to interest me, and the more action type looks like a low-budget movie. Even if it’s a well-done movie style book trailer, it would probably make me want to see a movie based off the book, not the book. I’m going to read the description before seeing the trailer.
    As far as book trailers go, this one is more interesting and I haven’t read the book. It goes for the more movie-type trailer, and the trailer doesn’t look low budget.

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  7. I don’t know that they work cause I don’t really watch them. When I see them I like them. But I buy books the old fashion way by reading the inside cover :). My school holds a Book Trailer contest every year and making them is pretty fun. The trailer for the Reapers looks good.

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  8. I think it depends on the trailer. For instance, after seeing the Reapers one, I really want to read that series. However, the other ones didn’t grab my attention as much. I think it had something to do with the character speaking, while with Nightmare’s Edge and Starlighter it was a man talking. That takes away my interest from the book, focusing on the man: Who was he? Does he relate to this book? That’s just my opinion, though.

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  9. I don’t have much experience with took trailers. I did see a trailer for one of Jill Williamson’s books (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SODPu2WfxcI) that piqued my interest, but I haven’t bought the book. I think the danger with book trailers is if you don’t do them well, you run the risk of making them look cheesy or too DIY, which to me might reflect on the quality of the book.

    That being said, the Reapers trailer was awesome. It had a quality feel to it, and the music really help set the mood. This particular trailer would definitely make me want to buy the book.

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  10. Book trailers are a difficult thing to get right. Like you mentioned, it is a different medium. When you read a good book, you’ll come up with your own mental image of how everything looks, having video representation of everything destroys that. That said, I think that a trailer could work quite well if it were primarily text- and audio-based, with small snippets of video. Someone else posted a trailer for “Unwind,” and at the beginning of that trailer there was a small segment where you could only see the character’s eye. I found that small part significant, because it, combined with the audio at that point, communicated a feeling without disturbing the reader’s mental image. I may be rambling a bit here, but that’s my opinion on the subject.

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  11. I have never bought a book based upon a book trailer, I just don’t believe that a trailer for a book can do a book justice. I have always been the type that will avoid other peoples input or suggestions on books and will just go where I feel naturally inclined to go, which is normally based off of reading segments of those books. From those segments I can normally tell if it is a style I will enjoy reading and if the story itself is one that will hold my interest.

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