Monday, September 15, 2008
Recently I've started to look more seriously at book trailers, seeing as how so many novelists seems to be doing them. What is the cost? Are they worth that cost? What makes a good book trailer? Where do you post them? I put such questions out to a couple author loops and received a number of replies. I'm running those replies here anonymously.
Bottom line I haven't found anyone who's definitively said the BT directly resulted in enough sales to cover its cost. However I'm not sure that's a fair assessment of any marketing campaign. Although the ultimate goal is to effect more sales of the specific marketed title, a book campaign may have results that aren't so immediate but still help raise awareness of the author in the minds of potential new readers. Such was the sentiment of Carolyn K. Reidy, president and CEO of Simon & Schuster, in a June 7 article the Wall Street Journal ran about book trailers: "In some cases, we don't even expect [the trailer] to increase sales at all. It's almost a gift to the audience, and hopefully it makes them buy the next book." All the same WSJ said S&S has "doubled its investment in video content since it started making trailers last year."
A second bottom line: there are two sides of the book trailer coin: to make it effective ya gotta create a good one, and ya gotta post it in the right places. Neither is easy. Even when you find a wide range of effective target spots for posting, it's important to put the right key words into the tag description of the trailer so searchers of those topics will find it. This post from Future Perfect Publishing blog explains how that's done. As to making your own trailer, here's a post from COS Productions about the pitfalls. COS--Circle of Seven--is a major player among companies making book trailers and is credited, according to their website, to creating the BT market in 2002. You can check out their costs for various kinds of video book marketing here.
I haven't done a book trailer yet. Not sure when I will. I'd be very hard to please in the matter. I think an effective book trailer must pass this two-question test:
1. Is it creative/exciting/clever enough to make me want to email the link to someone?
2. Does it make me want to buy the book?
Both questions are important. Yes, #2 means a sale, but #1 means viral marketing, which can result in many more sales from one intial person's viewing.
Here's an insightful response to my questions about book trailers from one author:
"From a filmmaking perspective I think most of them are so poorly done, it's hard to judge the effect. There are two main ways they are done: a visual commercial or a true trailer. True trailers take a lot more time and money but they are likely to be more effective because they are what we are used to seeing. The point should be to give us a feel for what the book is in a visual way.
"True trailers should be scripted and shot like a short movie, showing us either a scene from the movie, or bits and pieces of scenes from the movie. They should limited voice over or words - just like we see in a movie trailer. Short and punctuated.
"Most people do visual commercials, which are little more than back cover copy put over a few images. I think these could be useful and interesting for website visitors and people already familiar with your work. But I don't think this kind has the potential to reach beyond the market you've already tapped. Most use WAY too much voiceover or WAY too much text. They aren't any more clever or appealing than the back cover copy might be.
"My suggestion? IF you're purpose is to add some website content, than a visual commercial might be enough. If you are looking to have the video go viral, then you need to look into doing a true trailer."
This novelist pointed to a series of six book trailers for Ted Dekker's Skin as excellent examples. This is the first one, which links to the others. The author notes, "It is interesting and intriguing and surprises me. Notice there is nothing about the book content. Very unique."
I agree these six trailers are great. They pass my two-question test for an effective BT. But I have to think they didn't come cheap.
I'd like to hear from you: What's been your experience with BTs, either doing one or viewing them? Have you heard of specific sales resulting from a BT campaign? Have a link to a specific BT you think is particularly effective?