Book trailers. Opinions on them range from adoration to bafflement to virulent hatred. I’ve talked about them here before, voicing my confusion about why they’re out there, talking about the one that actually got me interested enough to buy the book (the one for Lili St. Crow’s Strange Angels). And I’m thinking about them again now that I have my own work out there and because I was looking at some of the fan trailers done for Cassandra Clare’s The Mortal Instruments trilogy yesterday (which isn’t on her website and now I can’t find the link…).
Now I will say straight up that I am NOT the target market for book trailers. The ones on TV I miss because I DVR everything and skip commercials. And unless it’s by somebody I “know” on Twitter, I usually don’t even come across them to either be impressed or jeer. But that doesn’t make book trailers useless. I am not representative of the majority. The fact of the matter is that there are hundreds of thousands, maybe millions of people who prowl YouTube on a daily basis (my husband is one of them). That makes it a venue to reach possible customers who might be interested in your book.
Same deal with MySpace and Facebook. I hate, loathe, and despise both of these social networking sites. But I’ve still got pages at both. Why? Because hundreds of thousands of people DO like it, and they are all potential customers. It would be foolish not to at least have your name out there in case those fans either go looking for you or happen to stumble across you. They should be able to find the name of your book and where it can be purchased.
Now do I think everybody should go out and make a book trailer? No. If you don’t have any skills in that area yourself, it’s likely to cost more money than would be sensible to spend, particularly if you’re a new indie author like me. But if you know a guy… Or if you DO have some skills to put together a little one minute something that hits the high points of your story with a montage of rotating still shots that will inform potential readers what the story is about, where you can buy it, ending with a listing of your website–well, I don’t see that as a bad thing.
One of the criticisms I’ve heard about book trailers is that books aren’t movies and why should they be presented as such? And it’s true. Books aren’t movies. But most book trailers don’t use live actors. Most are still shots, rotated, often to music, interspersed with text or possibly a voiceover. The fact of the matter is that, for better or worse, we are a very visual society. And while they may not have the same impact as a movie trailer, they DO stand to bring your book to the attention of somebody who might not otherwise have seen it.
And then you have the whole OTHER matter of fan videos of your work. You see this a lot for uber popular books like Twilight (and there are some FUNNY ASS videos about Twilight). But there are lots of them out there that were made by fans of other books. Now that, I think, is just really darn cool. That somebody loves your story enough to put in the time and effort to make a video for your book. I mean, seriously, that’s fan love there. Even if the video sucks because the person doesn’t have the skills, it’s STILL cool because they TOOK THE TIME. That lets you know that you connected.
Q4U: So readers, weigh in. How do you feel about book trailers? Yay? Nay? Confused?