Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Book Trailers--Part II

Looking over all the responses from authors on this subject, both in yesterday's comments and in emails to me, I can say that the jury's still out about book trailers, but the verdict doesn't look like it's going to be all that positive. Most of the more negative responses have to do with the quality of the BTs. Or lack thereof. It is a problem when we're used to such slick movie trailers that cost a lot of money. We seem to know it's not fair to compare the two, but ... well, we do it anyway. The other main negative is the inability to measure if they have much effect on book sales.

The purpose of this two-part post is not so much to come to some definitive conclusion on the efficacy of BTs, but rather to gather opinions and offer links to informative web sites on the matter.

In an email one author pointed me to the Build Buzz blog post about BTs, run this past June. The post mentions the WSJ article I linked to yesterday and goes on to comment on how hard it is to track the effectiveness of a marketing campaign. Just as interesting are the two comments to the post, one by a gal from Circle of Seven, who refutes some of the points made in the post--in a very kind manner, I might add.

If you're interested in doing a trailer for $1000, look into BookPreview, which some of my friends have used. There are examples on the web site. Also check out PulsePoint Design.

Here are some more responses from multi-published authors about BTs:

"I was somewhere the other day--listening to someone in the industry--and he/she made an off handed comment about book trailers and the implication was that they were a waste of time and money. Trouble is, I can't remember who or where it was. I've done a couple and put them on my web site with no observable success--no one even mentions them. From now on , I'm focusing on the book."

"I do know that at least one of my publishers sees some value in them. They’re even building money into their marketing budgets for select books to have trailers created professionally. When I created my book trailer, my contact in the marketing department was very interested in it, and gave me some pointers on the script, the length, and told me to be sure to post it on YouTube and GodTube as the book’s release date nears."

"I've had two book trailers done, and I was pleased with both. I posted them on my website and plan to put them on my Amazon blog. I'm not sure how effective they are. I will say that my publisher is exploring some of the results of trailers. If they find the trailer and better usage to be a positive thing, I'll probably do another for my 2009 release, but at this point I'm not sure. Doing two strictly for fun was great, esp. since I only paid for one (the first one was done for free)."

"Personally - and I'm certainly no expert - I would not waste my time with a book trailer."

"I've done one and will do more, probably. I made mine in iMovie and it was pretty easy, once I figured out what I was doing. Do I think it does much good? I have no clue. With only 200-300 views, probably not. One thing I don't know is if the views on my web site get counted. I checked YouTube, then watched it on my web page, then checked the number and it hadn't changed."

"Do book trailers sell tons more books? I'm thinking they really don't. But they certainly don't hurt. I've had "new" readers who've never read my books email to say now they are--due to seeing the trailer. In the end, I think book trailers are sort of like blogging. If you enjoy doing it, do one. But don't expect huge returns."

"I've done a couple of booktrailers on my own and have posted them on my blog and website. I also put them on Shoutlife and Amazon (in my blog on Amazon). It's hard to tell whether they increase sales. I would love someone to do a study on it. Personally, I really enjoy watching Book Trailers. (But then, I really enjoy movie trailers too!) I've heard rumors that some book stores plan to play them on monitors throughout the store. And I've also heard that online bookstores plan to incorporate them onto the page where our books are displayed and purchased."

Here's some info authors sent in regarding buying music and photos to use in BTs. (You can't just grab them off the Internet, as they're likely to be copyrighted.) For music: Production Music Online. (This is a redirect from istockmusic.net.) One author reported buying the license to needed music for $30. For photos: iStockphoto. Fees run from about $1 to $20 per photo.

One author suggested: "What if we had a website where readers could go check out book trailers for the newest releases in Christian Fiction with with links to purchase the book?"

Interesting idea. What do you all think?


Pam Halter said...

I think a website where readers could go to check out book trailers is a GREAT idea!! Maybe we should run it past Bonnie Calhoun.

Anonymous said...

It'd be great to have a site for new releases in Christian Fiction book trailers with links to buy their books. What a great marketing tool.

It just seems that the younger generation of readers are so visual, a great BT would catch their attention enough to buy the book and read it.

Thanks for the posts, they are very interesting.

Karla said...

I think book trailers are pretty cool. I have a friend who just published a book and she did a book trailer. I think it will attract younger readers.

A website hosting such trailers would be ideal as well. The movie world has them, why not the book world. We need to foster reading in our culture.

Grady Houger said...

I get the feeling the authors wish that if only someone could see a glimpse of the story they have imagined, of course people would want to read it. So book trailers are an interesting concept, but ultimately, film is its own art form. If a person or marketing team can manage to create one effective to a particular story thats great. But how many book series get made into trading card games and themed restaurants? I think trailers are too wide a format gap for most stories to jump. How hard would it be write a song that makes someone want to buy your book? Trailers are to films as back cover copy is to books.
What this topic has made me think of is those radio ads for 'thrilling' novels. They have never impressed me much. I don't watch tv so I haven't heard if there are book ads there. It would seem that that would be the most effective visual book selling method; instead a book trailer, make a book commercial. Show an author who appears interesting, then earnest looking readers saying how great the book was, then a catchy synopsis. Instead of showing the book content, try to sell the reading experience.

C.J. Darlington said...

Grady, that's a terrific way to put it.

I'm contemplating adding a book trailers section to the TitleTrakk.com website after reading this post. My only question would be how would the trailers be sorted? By author name, book name, genre? Which would you prefer as a reader?

Anonymous said...

If you did it, CJ, alphabetical order either by author's name or by book title.
The only "problem" I see with BTs is either in revealing too much or in the potential for misleading the reader by the way the "copy" is presented. Also, if real people are used to portray the characters, this can ruin it for some.
I love certain film trailers but even they can reveal TMI.

Rel said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rel said...

I asked this question of readers of my blog a few months ago when I posted a book trailer for author, Jamie Carie. Most responses were that trailers did not influence them one way or the other, especially those with slow internet! YOu can check out the answers here

Personally I enjoy watching them (the ones that are well done!) and I think they will become more prevalent as the younger generation seeks a more visual approach to these things.

I always post them on my blog simply because it is something different and is another aid to marketing a book for authors and publishers. It is a tool that would be most effective in gaining new to the author readers, I would imagine.

Rel said...

Chuck Holton has already made a trailer in the vein of Grady's idea (although it was for his publisher as opposed to readers)- Chuck running around the jungle talking about his experiences and how he uses them for his stories. It's fun to watch

Timothy Fish said...

Movie trailers are almost free to produce while producing a book trailer of similar quality costs thousands of dollars. I do think that some people will buy a book because of the trailer, but I don’t know that it will be thousands of people. The goal for a book video should be to show potential readers what they would get if they read the book. That doesn’t necessarily mean acting out the story. People want to know what a book is about before they begin reading and they want to know more than what knowing the genre of the book tells them. They also want to know that they won’t be wasting their time by reading the book. So, if a book trailer shows the reader what he should expect and assures the reader that the book will meet his expectations, the reader will be a lot closer to buying the book.

Karen said...

I checked out that first book trailer site you mentioned and now I really want to buy Sharon Ewell Foster's "Abraham's Well". I hope the trailer is posted online so I can feature it on my blog.

The book trailer site sounds like an amazing idea!

Sheila said...

You can go to www.cosproductions.com to the resources page and get a lot of information on the effectiveness of book trailers. But what might be of more interest to those of you who are unsure of the investment would be the white paper called The Residual Marketing Effect that talks about long term uses of trailers.

Authors and traditional readers are not the target audience of a book trailer, so surveying them is not likely to give results reflective of the general public.

In the interest of full disclosure I will say that I am the CEO of COS Productions. And though it could be argued that it is self-serving to say they work, it can also be argued that I have the most experience on the subject. I've been doing them since 2002, trademarked the term "book trailer" and have a team of people who work in distribution and research & development to track trends, utilize new technology, etc.

In the past year we have been approached by schools and libraries to use trailers in order to promote reading. We now offer tech support and assistance for free to schools and libraries and we're swamped! We are now putting trailers in kiosks in high schools.

We were also contracted this year to supply trailers on Transit TV. That plays video on transit buses in Los Angeles, Chicago, Milwaukee, Orlando and Atlanta. We don't pay for that, the trailers are considered content. And each video is seem by over 10 million people. Transit TV contacted me last week and asked if we could increase the number of trailers we provide them. It has been a huge success for us!

BN.com takes our video, Borders, Powell's, GoodReads and many more. Our distribution is extensive and we distribute for free when someone buys a trailer from us.

Having a trailer isn't enough. You need to make that trailer be effective.

Not all book video costs thousands of dollars. Not even COS'. ;-)

I'm thrilled with the way schools are using them. If trailers are building enthusiastic, future readers I would hope to see the publishing world, and authors, embrace that.

Also, as far as where to find trailers there are many online sites that show them. www.readersentertainment.tv, www.bookscreening.com, www.previewthebook.com



Timothy Fish said...

Sheila, I may need to clarify my comment about “thousands of dollars.” What I said was that to get the same quality as a movie trailer it would cost thousands of dollars. A movie trailer typically has brief segments of several scenes staring the most expensive talent in the movie. By the time the trailer is made, the movie studio has the rights to this video and it is lying around waiting someone to use in a trailer. It is practically free. For a book video to approach this quality one would have to write a script, hire topnotch actors, pay the expenses of filming on several locations and the list goes on.

Sheila said...

Hi Timothy!

Thanks. And of course you're right. Though, there are companies who specialize in make movie trailers and it seem quite lucrative, but you're so right about the easy availability of high quality film they can use without extra investment.

Cindy Swanson said...

As an avid reader, I actually love the idea of book trailers...and I have to admit, I have sort of a vested interest in seeing them succeed, because I'm a voice over artist who is trying to break into the book trailer business.

But they have to be top-notch, with a beautiful look and feel, good production values, effective music beds, and good vocal talent (again, I may be biased as a voice-over artist, but I truly believe the best trailers include voice-over narration and even some dialogue.)

I had seen several cheesy, amateurish-looking book trailers for mainstream books, so when I saw the trailer for BJ Hoff's "Song of Erin," I was completely WOW-ed. It clearly demonstrated that a book trailer can be beautifully done and effective.

I know it all comes down to: does this make me really, really want to read the book? Well, if it's done well, that's exactly what it's going to do. How many movies have you watched on the strength of the trailer alone? For me the answer would be, quite a few!

Kelli Standish said...

Brandilyn et al,
We did massive research prior to beginning our PictureBook Trailer service at PulsePoint Design.

There are so many things for authors to spend their time, money, and energy on. Would online videos really benefit them?

We're so passionate about protecting our clients' finances, and we didn't want some bells and whistles thing that would just be another leech on their bank accounts with no return on investment.

So we researched and studied, we prayed and watched the online video trends, we paid close attention to the major investments large ABA publishing houses were making in trailers and online videos. And we listened to the book buyers who talked about how a video captured the attention of their son, or husband, or sister, who was never interested in Christian fiction before.

We've got a post up on our "Sell Your Work not Your Soul" blog that details a lot of our research about trailers and their value, as well as information about what publishing houses are heavily investing in this medium.

You can find the post here:

Hope this is helpful!!

Cheering us all on,