Book Trailers: Are They Any Good?

Personally I don’t like the idea of a book trailer. I think trying to use a visual medium to advertise a book is akin to putting wasabi on your chocolate digestives; they just don’t go together. Yet indie authors, with cost-free hosting in the form of YouTube, are making book trailers in their thousands.

Fair play to them. Indie authors don’t have access to book shops and the Internet is a noisy place. It’s a struggle to be seen at all. But I wonder if a book trailer is the best way to be seen. Most of them seem to be fuzzy cover stills overlaid with hyperbolic tag lines and clichés. The lack of budget is obvious. After all the hosting is free but the production is not.

And even if Peter Jackson directed your book trailer with an epic budget, wouldn’t a cast and a set and a soundtrack kill the reader’s imagination stone dead? Half the fun of a book is turning black and white text into a rich and vibrant world in your head. If a book trailer does that for you, isn’t the experienced tarnished?

(Having said all that, M. Latimer-Ridley have created the only book trailer I have, to date, ever liked. They made it themselves and the result shows real care and creativity. It also keeps the door to my imagination open whilst still generating an atmosphere. Excellent stuff!)

Indie authors seem to love book trailers right now, but I’m interested in readers’ opinion. Have you ever bought a book on the strength of the trailer? Have you ever been put off by a trailer? Has a trailer ever encouraged you to track down a book or author? Post a comment and let me know.

7 thoughts on “Book Trailers: Are They Any Good?

  1. mlatimerridley

    Oh wow James, thank you for including us in your post and your fantastic compliments!!!

    Have to say we both really enjoy our twitter chats with you. Even though you probably never know which one of us is chatting away to you (confusing,no? Haha) we’re glad we all became ‘twitter friends’! :)

    1. James

      You’re quite welcome, I really enjoyed the trailer! Not being sure who I’m talking to is actually kinda fun. It adds a little mystery to our conversations!

  2. Elizabeth Barone

    I’ve never bought a book based on its trailer. To be honest, most book trailers are boring. I mean, if I wanted to know what your book was about, I could’ve just read the description (and more than likely already did). Entertain me! Show me why I should read your book. I know it’s a thing in the indie publishing industry, though, so I’ll probably do my own. I’m trying to figure out how to do it in an interesting, unique way.

    1. James

      And, of course, if you create a unique and interesting trailer then it’s much more likely to work. But so many indies seem to make one because everyone else does and that leaves readers with thousands of generic and, as you say, boring trailers that don’t sell books!

  3. Pingback: Interview with Young Adult Authors M. Latimer-Ridley | James T Kelly

  4. Gabriel JM

    I have never bought a book based on a book trailer either. I have seen a lot of book trailers, but the only thing I notice is how bad they look. I was debating whether I should do one for my upcoming novel. I came to the conclusion that I rather wait for other marketing ways to publicize my book. I mean the cheapest prices I found were 300 dollars of a few minute run of the book. I have no idea what they were going to include on the trailer. As of now, I rather stay off book trailers.

    1. James

      Hi Gabriel, thanks for your comment. I definitely agree with you, so many of them are just no good. Even the ones on the TV! And it sounds like a lot of money. So what other methods will you wait for?


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