Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The book trailer debate...

There is a lot of discussion right now (especially on Twitter) about whether or not book trailers work. Well, it depends what you mean by "work." Do they help sell books? Do they help raise an awareness of reading? How do you judge a successful book trailer?

In her excellent blog, Catherine, Caffeinated, indy author Catherine Ryan Howard discusses the value of book trailers. She gives two great examples of trailers from author Maria Semple's novel Where'd You Go Bernadatte -- one, a cutesy "this-is-what-the-book-is-about" cartoon that I found so annoying I couldn't finish watching! The other is a spoof, with Ms. Sempel trying out different (bad) pitches to various famous authors and Jeopardy! champions. It is funny, original, and really entertaining! I don't know if I'll buy the book -- I'm still not sure what it is about -- but the trailer definitely made her name stick in my head.

In my opinion, Ms. Sempel's second trailer was extremely successful. Because of it, she's featured on a popular blog, and now I'm mentioning it on my (albeit less well-known) blog, and maybe from this post, word of mouth will take her name and her novel a little farther into the blogosphere... It's gotten people talking, in other words!

But what about writers who don't have the luxury of expensive book trailers with cameo performances by famous actors? I think simple, thoughtful book trailers can also help get the word out. I discovered author Gillian Mawson on Twitter. She's written a nonfiction book called Guernsey Evacuees: The Forgotten Evacuees of the Second World War, soon to be published by The History Press. It has a lovely, evocative cover, and Ms. Mawson recently put out a book trailer on YouTube that has haunting music and sepia photo shots and is very compelling, especially if you're interested in World War II.

The "successful" trailers I've seen have left me with a lasting impression of the author and always a feeling of great optimism and expectation about what's to come in the book industry. And if you can generate excitement about reading, then you are helping all authors. While we may not be able to measure the success of book trailers in actual book sales, I believe that well-made trailers do have a positive impact on individual authors' careers in the long-term. What do you think?


Marianne Wheelaghan said...

Hi Louisa, thanks for link to Catherine's post. Really interesting. i agree with what she says about our goals needing to be about making the internet better via social media etc, very laudable but much easier said than done - unfortunately ! I think a trailer is becoming part and parcel of the stuff writers/publishers have to do now to get attention for a book. Writing an actual book seems to be a smaller and smaller part of the publishing process in a very cut throat industry, hence why we turn to things like making trailers to help get attention. It'd be good if there had been some actual facts and figures to back up what catherine said. Do I think trailers actually make any difference? I'll let you know :)
I can't seem to open the clips - grr! will work on it. Thanks again. D

Louisa said...

Hi Marianne! Thanks for the comments. Yes, I do think it's interesting, this idea of the Internet being a tool for social good, so to speak. But I also believe that it's definitely slanted more toward marketing (whether a product, a set of beliefs, etc...) than, say, a newspaper, which has rules about being objective, etc... We don't seem to have such rules (yet) about using the Internet.

Louisa said...

Forgot to say... going back to the book trailer debate, yes, Marianne, it would be good to have some facts and figures to find out how trailers affect book sales!

Marianne Wheelaghan said...

hey Louisa, I've just been blogged about book trailers and whether authors should appearing in their own book trailers..... be great to know what do you think?