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Should Your Book Have a Trailer?

Posted by ErinKelly on November 5, 2013 at 2:10 PM

I’m always taken aback by the wide variance of opinions regarding book trailers. By opinions, I mean people who take to the internet to vehemently tear book trailers down for merely existing, or sing the highest of praises in their honor. I’m sure the whole argument would still mystify me if I wasn’t a book trailer producer, but since I am… well, I promise you’ll get my honest opinion anyway.

The truth is that lots of book trailers suffer from bad production, and that’s unfortunate. The same can be said about any art form, though –so let’s put that aside for now. Let’s address the argument that people make about how ‘books are different from other visual medium in that they can’t just be looked at-they must be experienced’ and a video representation of them messes with that juju. I’ll agree there's no substitute for a book’s indulgence of the imagination, but this is not a perfect world in which people have endless riches to purchase and read every book available in their oodles and oodles of free time. To put it bluntly, there’s competition. If you’ve put blood, sweat and even tears (which are likely comprised of 23% fear and 77% caffeine) into a book, chances are you’re passionate about it. Passion has many side effects, but one of the better ones is that it’s infectious; when you’ve written a book you’re proud of, you want to inject it into the veins of any willing participant –and I think that’s awesome. That’s how it should be. Every effort should be put forth to set it apart.

The authors that contact me about making their book trailer are a lot of different things, but always excited. They’re excited to tell me about the book, excited for me to read it, and excited to see what I come up with for their promotional video. Once it’s in my proverbial ‘hands’ (Kindle) I’m excited to read it, and excited to put together a piece of video that will be of service to it. When I deliver it to their inbox- excitement! They are excited to receive it! They post it online, share it with people they know and say “Look! I am excited about this!” I do the same. It spreads.

From a marketing standpoint, there’s no going wrong with having a good trailer produced, as long as you do it within your budget. The potential readers you’ll reach will appreciate the passion that comes through it; a visual conduit for book itself, and the artistic feat that is writing a book. You’ll have a nice little video to plug into websites that have a place for it, and it will make you happy as all-get-out to watch it. Plus, the young people, the young people LOVE the videos, what, with their digital media and computers and iPods! It’ll go viral and make you a trillion dollars! (It won’t.) But it is easy to promote, and you don’t need to lease it, rent it, or subscribe to it. You pay once and it’s yours forever.

While we’re on the subject of paying, that old saying “You get what you pay for”? It’s not a joke designed to make you and your money part ways. If the process is passionate and true, it takes time. The professionals have put in their own blood, sweat and tears to earn that title, and they deserve it. Here's where bad production comes in- trailers that authors are proud to say they paid only $30 for are mostly terrible. I know because I’ve watched a lot of them. I watch them because I want to know how they are doing it so inexpensively! It’s usually apparent right away. These are the trailers that give all others a bad name. If you’re going to do it, wait until you can afford someone that can give you some creativity and some quality.

On the other end of the spectrum, video and audio editing are not magical powers bestowed upon only a select number of the universe’s children, who rightfully demand to have the equivalent of your monthly income in hand before even contemplating setting foot in their “studio” to make your “professional” video. You want someone creative and competent, who is passionate about their projects, and expects to be paid fairly for the time spent reading and working to give you a desired result. I wasn’t going to recommend me, but this is my blog after all, so yeah …me. I’m quality at a fair price, and my family needs to eat real food, lest they turn on the dog.

The moral of this story is that passion shines through. If your book is under 400 pages, I’ll actually read it before I attempt to put its heart and soul into a video. I was surprised to learn a lot of trailer producers don’t even read the book. How can you be passionate about a book you haven’t read? I think it makes all the difference as far as a quality trailer is concerned.

If you’re an author I’ll tell you that a book trailer is definitely a worthwhile venture. Find someone you're comfortable with who has experience and a good work ethic, and together you'll be able to create something you'll both be passionate about! 


Categories: Work

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1 Comment

Reply Paxton Helling
11:41 PM on November 13, 2013 
Well said, Erin! It's all about the quality and your trailers are excellent. I also wanted to mention that your book covers have the same attention to detail! I am the founder of Zyng Books and we beileve in helping authors find their following. With so many promotion website available today, we have noticed a widening between gaining exposure and growing a following. We believe the latter is the most important of the two. Our mobile app is set to launch in late November 2013 and those authors who have YouTube channels will have those channels/trailers linked to from our app. As you may know, YouTube is the second largest search engine behind Google, and as of now, most authors have little exposure there. Our goal is to broaden this area for authors and video trailers represent an important part when building their following. You have my email, so please feel free to contact us as we launch our app and grow our channel. Again, very well done! www.zyngbooks.com