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!
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?