Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Opinions Wanted--book trailers

I used to think that the formula to becoming a successful published author meant:
1) I had to write well.
2) I had to write what other people wanted to read.
3) I had to keep enough product on the shelves so readers wouldn't forget me.

And all that is still true, but there is so much more. I attend conferences and give speeches. i do television and Internet interviews. I keep up a web site. I arrange marketing and promotion and print ads. There's a lot to the business side of writing. And one of the things I do to try and gain interest in my books are trailers. in the beginning, I hired a company to do them for me. They made great trailers but it got rather expensive. So i did one myself. And now I'm looking at doing another one.

And it's not easy. I have to write a script, scout locations, find talent--that's the actors--pick out costumes, hair and makeup. Then after it's all shot, the real work begins. Editing, text, sound, music. It's a lot of work. Then when it's done I have to upload it all over the Internet. Obviously I don't do all this myself, but even coordinating the work is work. :)

So here's my question. How many of you like watching book videos? How many of you have actually bought a book after you've seen one? Is all the effort and expense worth it? If you read this blog, please just give a short response. help us authors out and let us know if we're wasting our advertising dollars and our time.

And if you want to see the trailer for Kiss me Deadly my June release, it's at


Susan Kearney


  1. I hope you get a variety of answers to this one, because I would imagine it to be a highly individual thing.

    Here's my opinion: They don't do the job any better than the traditional print ad. That is, they capture attention, entertain and get the word out, but they don't convince me to buy the book all by themselves or any faster. The readers I know (including myself) need to feel confident in our decision to buy. None of us are impulse buyers, as far as I know. Word of mouth (or blog as the case is for us) is of utmost importance to us. Book trailors do earn points for fun, but so do bookmarks and alligator bottle openers.

    If you want to know more, pop over to my blog and scroll down to the column 'Wooing the Readers I know.'

  2. Anonymous11:28 AM EDT

    I didn't finish watching any of the ones I opened on the Circle of Seven Productions web site.

    They were too long. I think the still photo ones worked better than the live action types. Live action is difficult to do well. I did like the quick edits of your Kiss Me Deadly trailer which sped up the pacing.

    While I think this concept has potential, there's a fundamental attention span issue between watching video and reading a book. I think these trailers should be short, use mostly still photos with pan effects rather than live action, and provoke the mood of a book rather than trying to tell as much of the story as you would in a back cover blurb.

  3. Sue,

    It's a great question. I don't have a way of knowing. So much is beyond our control.

    I probably would not have chosen the horny-berries as my book video icon, (or if I did, I'd have had the Make Her Eat Horny-Berries text up there) but You-Tube grabbed a central frame, and that's what it was.

    I wouldn't have chosen to "shelve" my sfr among reality footage of various animals mating! You-Tube decided, based on the title, that this was appropriate.

    Who knows what "Deadly" will be among. Or maybe it will be among "Kisses".

    I do feel that I am exposed to viewers who might not otherwise notice my book. If the saying about how a cover or title has to be seen seven times before readers feel that it's something they've heard of (so it must be worth a look), then a book trailer is another way to get the word out.

    (I disclaim all responsibility for the magical 7 sightings saying!)

    Like most things, the technology probably works while it is a novelty, but when everyone is doing it, the ROI benefits might be minimal.

    Best wishes,

  4. Anonymous2:18 PM EDT

    I enjoy watching them but have never bought a book on the strength of one.

    I still prefer to read the reviews and the back blurb to decide if I am going to buy a particular book.

  5. Anonymous2:37 PM EDT

    Nothing sells a book better than a great plot and engaging characters, all of which one can read about in less time than it takes to watch a trailer.

  6. I love watching book trailers. Most books I buy tend to be by my auto buy authors. I use reviews, blurbs, word of mouth and book trailers to pick up new (to me) authors. Yes, I have actually bought books based on their video. I've even finally read books that were hiding in my bookcase because I watched the video.
    So, my opinion is that book trailers do have the power to help sell books.

  7. Anonymous5:22 PM EDT

    As a reader, I avoid trailers even those for books by "my" authors. I saw a few when they first started appearing, and I had very negative reactions. I'm not sure exactly why. I think they interfere with my imagination's concept of the book. Other people like them, though, so it must be very subjective. More so than print ads, I think.

  8. I bought Thief With No Shadow by Emily Gee after seeing her computer-animated trailer, but to be honest, I had already decided to buy the book before I watched the teaser.

    That's the only book trailer I've ever seen. I never even heard of them before that.

  9. Thanks for all the comments. As usual there are no easy answers. Sigh.

  10. After watching the trailer for A Dangerous Book for Boys I decided that book trailers are a good thing. I haven't bought that book, but I may in the future. Prior to watching the trailer I had dismissed it as being an uninteresting book. The trailer made it clear that it is interesting. Not all book trailers can have that affect. I would have liked to have shown people reading my book and being excited about it, but Searching for Mom is a novel. I might have been able to show video of various people sitting and reading the book, but that would not have told anyone why he or she should read the book. I opted for showing the cover and using simple text to tell part of the story.