Pub Rants

Talking Book Trailers

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STATUS: Just a heads up that tomorrow morning I head to Salt Lake City for the World Horror Conference so I can’t promise I’ll blog on Thursday and Friday. I’ll try though.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? STAR 69 by R.E.M

I actually tried to post this directly from but for some reason, the post wouldn’t show up. With my luck, after I post this entry, it will show up three different times for all three of my tries.

If so, sorry about that.

Last year when the book THE MANNY hit shelves, there was a fun book trailer floating around blogs and easily spotted on youtube.

I have to say this trailer was uproariously funny. I watched it several times and laughed heartily with each viewing but ultimately, I didn’t buy the book.

There in lies the rub. Book trailers can be great, fun, and generate buzz but do they sell books? That’s the million dollar question. If we could accurately measure the books sales generated by a trailer then that would help quantify whether it has a positive impact or not.

But ultimately it can’t hurt book sales so if you are creative, or have the dinero to hire professionals to make one, I say go for it.

Especially when the trailer is clever or quite funny as that in and of itself might get the link spread around. With that in mind, I give a huge thumbs up to Sherry Thomas’s new book trailer for her debut PRIVATE ARRANGEMENTS, which just hit shelves yesterday for all you historical romance readers that have been eagerly awaiting the release.

I laughed outright while watching. No stuffy trailer here. Enjoy and let me know if it encourages you to buy the book. If it doesn’t, well…

28 Responses

  1. Sarabeth said:

    The trailer for Private Arrangements made me laugh, and I thought it clever. However, I am tired of Regency romances of late. I won’t buy the book because of a cute trailer.

  2. Jana Lubina said:

    I wouldn’t watch a book trailer unless it’s a book I’ve already read and am now looking for more information on.

    A video may become popular and be blogged about or be sent around, but people generally view quite a bit of video online. I don’t know if a particular book title would even be remembered afterwards.

    Cheap marketing gimmick as far as I’m concerned.

  3. Elissa M said:

    I don’t generally read historical romance. Still, if I were looking for a book someplace like an airport (where the selection is limited) I would probably pick up “Private Arrangements” if I saw it. A trailer won’t make me go looking for a specific book, but it could stick in my head long enough to influence my buying decision. Or maybe I just like to buy books by clients of agents I might query some day, in which case your blog influences me more than any trailer.

  4. Adaora A. said:

    I think I’m going to have to pick up PRIVATE ARRANGEMENTS from CHAPTERS on my way to work on Saturday. It looks fabulous.

    Book trailers are my favorite. I’ve just seen the one for I KNOW IT’S OVER by C.K Martin and it’s made me anxious for September.

  5. Jeanne said:

    I wouldn’t go seeking a book trailer to watch it unless it was recommended to me as something really cool to watch for itself. Also unless it reminded me that “hey, this is really a book” and “hey, this is a book that is really different” I doubt I’d buy the book.

    This trailer pretty much left me cold for the book and if I had had any inclination to buy, I wouldn’t any more. Now that I remember the cover, I know not pick up the book to read the back too.

    I thought the story in the trailer moved way to slow. video is a media that I expect to have either move really fast or be stunningly gorgeous…yes, even if it’s made by an amateur.

    If actors had been hired to do speaking parts along with some animation, it would have sped it up and made it more fun. The time it took to put up all the little blurbs and leave them up for people to read, really takes away from the power of the vid. Worse, the plot as presented in the vid sounded like oodles of other regency’s already out there. I didn’t get a feel for what makes this one different.

    The Manny trailer was more entertaining to watch but I wasn’t left with the need to know more. It stood on it’s own and therefore I don’t need to buy the book.

    I guess I’m wondering how many people buy the book after they’ve seen the movie. And if they do, how good does that movie have to be before they’ll buy the book? When a movie comes out, how big is the surge in the sales of the book vs. how many people went to see the movie. Are there any statistics about that? Because a movie is essentially a really big trailer for a book. That data likely reflects the maximum percentage sell through that could be expected based on a killer vid.

  6. Christine said:

    Ha! Loved the “Private Arrangements” trailer. I’d seen this book in the store and passed on it, but now I think I’ll take another look.
    As for book trailers, I think they’re as hit and miss as any commercial – do we really buy Swiffers every time we see them on tv? But it still is publicity, and it really surprises me that it’s taken this long for book trailers to catch on, even if they’ve only really done so on you-tube.
    I’m really surprised that there aren’t any Borders or Barnes and Noble commercials on tv. You hear about bookstores having trouble all the time, and in any other business, that would mean pump the advertising as much as possible, but it doesn’t seem to translate to the book world. I really wish it would. I’d love to see a commercial about mini-vacations with books. It could go even have the bookstore as the travel agent, which is super cheesy, but it’s something.
    On a side note, has anyone else noticed that the first thing listed with big pretty pictures on the Borders webpage is music? Does anyone else find that odd?

  7. Kris G. said:

    I don’t really like book trailers, because books are not a visual thing. So they don’t translate well to video. Additionally, we are used to see well-done movie trailers and book trailers just pale in comparison. They come across as very amateur imitations.

    I was already interested in this book before I saw the trailer. The trailer didn’t give me anything different to latch onto. It was identical to the simple description I read here on the blog when the sale was announced (or whatever it was).

    It definitely dragged. Having two paper dolls just stand there with speech bubbles was really very tedious.

    All I really need to see in a book video is the cover, the blurb, and maybe a few well selected quotes from recommended authorities. That’s it.

  8. WordVixen said:

    OMG. As much as I loved the trailer part of the trailer, it was the comment on blond paper dolls at the end that made me lose it!

    However, I thought that this was the best book trailer I’ve seen. Quite possibly because you read the video, just as you would read a book jacket. It gives you more of a feel for the book than say… The Manny video does. The Private Arrangements video seemed more appropriate for a book, and so made me more interested in its product than the The Manny video did, although neither is my preferred genre.

  9. Carradee said:

    I’m going to have to be the black sheep here and admit that the Private Arrangements trailer solidified my inclination to not buy or read the book. But the reason for that is the very simple one that I don’t like reading, er, steam.

    *clears throat*


    But the trailer could therefore be argued to be a good thing, even in my case, since it made it obvious that I would not like the book much.

  10. jovic said:

    The blurbs and reviews at the end made me more interested than the trailer. In fact, I almost didn’t watch it all, so she might consider starting with the blurbs. The Manny one was just weird and confusing. I didn’t even know it was for a book. I saw this one yesterday and liked it enough to see if my library had it.

  11. Tammie said:

    The other day I just did a post on book marketing. I have a trailer from Stephen King for his new book and another that is not so much a trailer as it is an interview on YouTube by the author of Matrimony.

    I’d say just like everything else when your speaking of books, some times it works and other times it doesn’t. I’m thinking of the other posts at other agents sites that are talking about book covers and titles. It’s just that one area where you can’t generalize what works and what doesn’t.

  12. Candice Gilmer said:

    I thought it was a cute trailer, however a bit long — I thought I read in RWR a month or two ago about making book trailers, and one of the comments was length — something about under 2 minutes?

  13. Andrea Blythe said:

    I think both trailers are briliant. But I would be more interested in buying Private Arrangements than the Manny. While the Manny trailer was funny, the Private Arrangements trailer suggested conflict and humor, both of which I like in a romance.

    I think it’s important for a book trailer to have the same tone as the novel, so if the novel doesn’t have humor in it, it wouldn’t be a good idea to have a humorous trailer, I think. But I think the Private Arrangements trailer works well on many levels.

  14. Deborah K. White said:

    I’ve never watched a book trailer before, so I watched this one just to find out what they’re about. Before watching this, I’d come so close to buying the book that I’d actually put it in my shopping cart–until I realized I didn’t have enough cash on hand to buy it and food. After watching the book trailer, I’m relieved I didn’t buy the book, and I won’t bother.

    I was intrigued by his mysterious condition in the back cover blurb. Now that I know it’s all about two people who don’t like each other having lots of sex to produce an heir, I’m not remotely interested.

  15. Heidi the Hick said:

    LOVE the trailer for Private Arrangements! So cheeky.

    Yeah I might pick it up off the rack at a store.

    The first trailer was funny but it got old fast.

    I do think trailers are a great idea. YouTube is a huge time suck and I think people spend a lot more time than they’ll admit watching!

  16. Fay said:

    The Manny, while funny, did not inspire me to buy the book as the video gave the plot a shallow feeling. A woman (or group of women) hire a male nanny under the pretense of making their boys more masculine while having sex with him behind everyone’s backs? Not my cup of tea.

    Private Arrangements (which is set in the Victorian era rather then Regency… There’s not a that much difference between the two as far as marriage and relationships went, but I felt like being picky) seemed more promising, but I had two major problems with it. First, I got bored. The paper dolls talking to each other with bubbles made me want to find something else to watch. Second, the bit when Lord Tremaine demands an heir and Lady Tremaine begins to get all wilty remembering a romantic evening that happened quite a while ago became a huge turn off for me. I haven’t read the back of the book to see if the blurb there is any better, but the fact that the Lady seems to instantly forget all the problems in their marriage seems contrived and dull to me. When actually reading the book it may be presented in a way that’s more interesting, but due to the video I’m not tempted to pick this book up off the shelf. I will be the first to admit that I’m not one to buy romances anyway.

  17. wplasvegas said:

    Cute trailers but bad ads.

    Frankly, I have yet to see a trailer that makes me want to buy anything. Most trailers remind me of query letters written by people who haven’t read any of your (or any agents) informative blogs on the subject.

    Personally, I don’t see trailers, TV commercials, or radio commercials, as frontline marketing tools for the publishing industry. I do think they are a good secondary public-relations tool. As such, book trailers are a positive addition, for they intrigue the viewer and provide that extra soupcon of information that readers seem to so enjoy.

    Since only bestsellers are going to get TV or radio ads, I believe Internet trailers have a future for those mid-level books and authors that have a decent following but not a large budget.

    Also, if they involve the author, they can provide an informal acquaintance with their brand.

  18. COS Productions said:

    Statistically speaking, book trailers sell books and are popular with a certain type of viewer.

    The RWR article that someone referred to has a bookseller come right out to say that readers like them. The top trailers for Borders group that got people to buy?

    Traditional readers, which most of the commenting here seem to be, are more likely to use reviews, back cover copy and a friend’s recommendation than a trailer. Traditional readers are not the prime target audience of book trailers. “Potential” or “Occasional” readers are. And young adult readers. These are people who see books as a form of entertainment, but may not read on a regular basis.

    A survey of over 200 readers showed that the biggest thing that would make them pick up a book after seeing the trailer is – genre.
    So in the end, it is still personal preference that ruled the day.

    TV spots are not as expensive anymore and are within the budget of many mid-list authors. Not a lot of people know about this recent turn of events, but those who do tend to utilize it.

    If the trailer is good enough and has some entertainment value to it many people will take it as content.

    The trailer is, in my opinion, is less important than the distribution of the trailer. Yes, it has to be good. But it can be just “okay” and still be quite effective.

    The trailers we make come with distribution. Both online and offline. Starting in April we’ll be able to have our trailers played in buses in 5 major cities. That’s 10 million impression and costs our clients $175 (formatting fee). That doesn’t even count the fact that they are put up on around 50 social sites, several book marking sites, sent out to 300booksellers and 5000 libraries.

    I know there are a lot of people who are new to book trailers. And to digital media or online marketing. If you’re not getting more use out of a trailer than putting it on your website and up on YouTube, why bother? Just having it does nothing for your sales. What you do with it does.

    I thought the videos were done well. I liked the historical a lot, though I thought it was too long. Of course, I’m currently reading Lisa Kleypas, so I’m into historicals right now. 🙂


  19. Alex Fayle said:

    I’m not a big romance reader, but of the two I preferred Private Arrangements. Manny was funny, but I found it a bit crass.

    So, I’d buy Private Arrangements, but not The Manny.

  20. karen wester newton said:

    I think the Private Arrangements trailer did a better job for two reasons. First, it left more of the story in question; the Manny video gave away too much. Second, paper dolls work for a lot less and need fewer takes. But the Manny video was very funny, especially the guy with teh feather duster.

  21. Anonymous said:

    Was going to buy the book until I saw the trailer. You did more on your blog to push the book than the trailer could ever dream of accomplishing.
    I’m a ravenous reader. I read because I don’t watch TV–or may I don’t watch TV because I read? Either way, I had decided to buy Private Arrangements based on your blog’s review and your personal excitement.
    Unfortunately, the trailer ruined it for me. I no longer have an inkling of a desire to buy it or even check it out at the library. It was that bad. Once I begin reading every single character will come into my mind as a ridiculous paper doll. Yes, Lord and Lady Tremain will not be the two utterly selfish people the dialogue has captured, but just paper dolls.
    I read because the narrative and dialogue create pictures in my mind; vivid images that breathe and live out a story, enriching my own life. I don’t need a trailer to do that for me; it will never come close to what my mind can muster with good writing in front of my eyes.
    Is this narrow-minded? To each her own.
    But as an avid reader–and thus the target audience of many authors–I would recommend authors be careful about infringing into the imagination of their readership with trailers packed with ready-made images that do the work for you. If I want someone else’s images, I’ll go watch a movie. The Manny book trailer had the fault, of course. It’s a funny video that succeeded in repelling me. Like TV and Capri-Sun, it’s just empty calories.

  22. Anonymous said:

    Perhaps I am just so easily led astray by ads in general. I always make up my own mind.
    I’ve seen trailers that were great and the movie was terrible. I’ve had people tell me a movie was terrible and it became a favorite.

    I still depend on myself to make determinations. I won’t let one piece of advertising turn me off to something. I’m stronger willed than that. And like to do my own thinking.

  23. Anonymous said:

    “Once I begin reading every single character will come into my mind as a ridiculous paper doll..”

    WOW. That’s a pretty sorry lack of imagination. How sad.

  24. Anonymous said:

    ” “Once I begin reading every single character will come into my mind as a ridiculous paper doll..”

    WOW. That’s a pretty sorry lack of imagination. How sad.”

    My thought exactly… about the trailer.

  25. COS Productions said:

    I didn’t think the trailer lacked imagination at all. I’ve not seen anything exactly like it.
    It was witty, just too long.

    It’s often hard to put things into perspective when you’re asked for your opinion, thus making you a critic.

    If someone said, “What is the best thing about this trailer?” We may have had a totally different “feel” to the comments. Not trying to cast blame to anyone, just making a general statement.

    Here’s a tried and true way of not having your imagination sacrificed at the alter of Book Trailers. Don’t watch them.

  26. Beth said:

    The MANNY trailer was hysterical, but I probably wouldn’t buy the book.

    I didn’t care for the PA trailer. It got dull watching the talking paperdolls and I didn’t finish it. However, I’m already part way into the book, which I’ve been looking forward to for some time and is so far very entertaining.

    Bottom line–I expect book trailers will become the next great fad, but I think they’re a bad idea. Books are not visual media, and a trailer can so easily give the wrong impression and mislead a potential buyer.

  27. COS Productions said:

    The likelihood of book trailers being a passing fad is very slim. As long as YouTube has an audience digital video will continue to grow in popularity. As long as the internet continues to be a reader destination, trailers will have a place.
    But other than that, whether you like them or you don’t, they are making an impact on young people. They are growing NEW readers. For that reason alone, I would hope the publishing industry and authors would support them.
    Check out this article about how schools and libraries are using trailers to encourage young people to read-

    The point that one teacher makes is that, when a students is a poor reader, being able to make a trailer helps to build their confidence level and that also builds up their confidence level in reading and they do better.
    Who would have ever thought that the education system would find a wonderful tool in book trailers? The same goes for libraries.

    Where the publishing industry sees trailers a sales tool, other people are finding them to be a way to encourage reading and reach out to young people.