Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Book Trailers: A New Trend?

“With the days of amateur-looking trailers long in the past, readers, bloggers, and fans of the genre are expecting more than mere novelty. They want entertainment.” –Sam Wasson, consulting editor of SCBWI.

As many cycles as the publishing industry tends to go through (market up, market down, sheer joy, sheer panic) it seems those in the biz have been trying to come up with ways to compete against technological contenders in the entertainment business. Books have been fighting against movies, games and the internet for years now, so why the sudden hype? Is it just based upon these economic times? Or has it always been a fight, and we’re just more aware of it now more than ever?

Personally, our economic condition is no worry to me. Every industry has its ups and downs, every industry has its freak-outs. Books aren’t going to disappear. But lately I’ve been hearing more and more about things like e-books and the Kindle, and while I’m not totally against either of them, I can’t get passed the idea of not having an actual book to hold in my hands. And things like the Kindle haven’t taken off like I’m sure its creators expected it to (hello, $$$$!).

So enter the Book Trailer. I got my bi-monthly SCBWI bulletin last week, and the article written by Sam Wasson introduced the idea to me. I had no idea such a thing existed. Anyone else? Or should I be ashamed to be so aloof? I’m glad to see authors, and just the industry in general, take another approach in the competitive market that is the entertainment industry. Because really, books are a form of entertainment, and lately, kids have become a major audience in which we’re fighting for the attention of. And let’s face it, that generation is spoon-fed everything technology, especially the internet (as scary as that is for us parents).

What exactly is a book trailer? Well, I visited, the website mentioned in SCBWI, and was a little surprised the last update was October of 2007. Why mention a site that isn’t even active? Interesting . . .

I must be honest, the trailer on the home page is . . . well, for lack of a better word, boring. The font is hard to read, the music makes me want to take a nap. Maybe my high expectations of seeing someone’s main character being chased down in live action with a guys voice-over dramatically reading what the book flap would say was too naïve. But I continued to search more anyway. I wasn’t very pleased with most of my findings. Again, I could just be over critical. I do come from a video production background and my husband is a producer, not to mention I edit my daughters annual video’s (on a professional editing suite mind you) so seeing some of these trailers makes me grimace. Is it pompous to say “I know these could be better” or worse yet, “I know I could do these better.”?

I continued looking though, hoping perhaps I’d find something decent. Thrillers . . . surely there would be a good one in thrillers?

I was somewhat relieved. While still not reaching my expectations completely (simply because I really hadn’t a clue as to what to expect in the first place) Paco Ahlgren’s Discipline had some promise. The music was perfect, and the graphics weren’t jumpy nor too much. Then, even better, was Edie Bloom’s "Comedy" The Immaculate Complexion. It had voice-over instead of words to read, which face it, we know we’re going to be reading words when we buy a book. But when you go in to view a “trailer” you immediately think voice-over. The graphics were okay, but the trailer itself was too long. Still, I’m thinking this publicity idea has promise. Even if it looks as if it hasn’t become a real trend yet.

I checked the other website mentioned in the article, It relieved me to see it was updated a few weeks ago. The second entry, The Role of a Lifetime by Jennifer Shirk was cute, but could have been cut down to half the time. Hm, maybe if it does catch on I should have a side business making book trailers. Mine would be bad ass. ;-)

For those who are published or on the road to publication, would you have a book trailer for your art? I probably would, simply due to the fact it's becoming a competitive world in the book publicity market when it comes to the internet. Blogs are every where, and this is just one more way to get the word out.


  1. Definitely would. Friend Deborah LeBlanc has some great ones for her paranormal/mystery books. I always wonder what it'd cost to have book trailers run with movie previews at the theater...especially if it's for a kinda "literary" movie or one based on a book, so there'd be more readerly type people in the audience. Our brains are wired for the interactive now, so trailers are a good idea, IMHO.

  2. I would get a book trailer if it turned out like these: (for "The Sweet, Far Thing" by Libba Bray) (for "The Book Thief" by Markus Zusack) (for "Graceling" by Kristin Cashore)

    Those are the best I've seen so far. I like BT's better when they're more of a story, less hey-this-is-what-my-book-is-about. But I am definitely all for them!

  3. Hi Christa. First I hope you and baby are doing great. Thought for sure we'd have a full moon baby for a bit! ; D

    Second, I'm expecting a book trailer from my publisher so I'll def let you see it and get your opinion when I receive.

    Kindle = Never, never for me. I want to hold, feel, smell the pages. Besides, if you're at the beach and sand gets on your book you just brush it off--try that with an electronic gadget : D.

  4. Well, I hope the trailer inspired you to read the book... :-)


  5. Angie - I'll have to check Deborah's out! And that's a good question about the movie theater. Part of me doubts the trend will ever go that far, but it's a nice dream to have for sure! Like the new blog pic, btw. :)

    Sara - Wow! Very impressed! Now those are what I was expecting when I hear "book trailer". The last one, for "Graceling", was a little corny simply because the combat was, well, too fake (but hey, it's a book trailer and compared to the ones I saw, still gets high credit from me). I feel like a schmuck i didn't stumble upon these first. Thanks Sara!

    Kimmi - Thank you my dear! I wondered about the full moon myself. And I'd love to take a look at your bt and let you know my thoughts, I think it's great your publisher is doing one! In fact, that opens up a whole new area of question I have about bt like the process and how involved you the author are with them. Ooo!

    And I totally agree about book vs. Kindle.

    Paco - Thrilled you stumbled upon my blog, and I'll honestly say yes, it has inspired me to look into picking up a copy of "Discipline".

  6. Christa, that just proves you are more productive with your time than me and don't spend it watching YouTube videos. Lol. And the "Graceling" BT was a bit corny.

    I found a few more: (for "The Forest of Hands and Teeth" by Carrie Ryan. It'll give you chills. Best one I've seen so far.) (for "How I Live Now" by Meg Rosoff.)

    I think, by far, the best ones come out of the Teen Book Video Awards. They're all made by student filmmakers who make videos based on three upcoming YA novels. Website here:

  7. Hey, I'm glad you thought my trailer was cute. (You're right it is too long but I just couldn't end it! LOL!!)

    I have a SONY e-reader and love it because it has a case that opens like a book. You forget it's not an actual book, but it's having technical difficulties now which is bumming me out. Oh, and if you tried to get a Kindle for someone in October, you would have been out of luck because they were sold out on Amazon until after Christmas. So I guess people are going more digital.


    OMG, I had NO IDEA that you were on Blogger writing this entire time! It's been so long since the days of MTM and High School plays, eh?

    How are you?!?!?! And baby?!?!?!?! You look fantastic. And how is the rest of your precious family?

    It's so crazy you never noticed the Discipline trailer before...I have Paco's stuff plastered all over my Myspace page! Hello!!! The book is brilliant btw and if you want a copy, just message me your address.

    Love to you!


  9. Sara - It gave me chills as well. It's the music and sound effects that do it :) For me anyway. This is all so interesting I'll probably do another blog about it.

    Jennifer - Thanks for stopping by! And I've totally been there about not wanting to end it. It's tough when you're so close to the project :) That's interesting about the Kindle's. I wonder who the customer's are, what their background is, etc. As an average person, I can't afford buying something like the Kindle even if I have a great passion for reading (and writing more so). I can see it doing better if it wasn't so expensive, and if Amazon wasn't the only place to find one.

    Nikki - Hey girl! I'm doing good! New baby is coming next week, woohoo! That's so funny about you and Paco. I hardly check myspace anymore so that's my excuse other than never knowing about book trailers to begin with ;)

    I'll send you a message! Thanks for visiting me here. I try to update once or twice a week if not more. -hug-

  10. I'd get a book trailer, sure. I've seen some that looked great.

  11. I lot of these book trailers are hit and miss. I like the trailer for Fablehaven because it's simple but intriguing:
    I think it would motivate children, especially, to read more.

  12. Wendy, me too!

    Allison, thanks for the link. I think you're right because of it being similar to the gaming world, graphics wise, I could see it being intriguing to children. And it does appear to be hit or miss with these.

  13. Book trailers have been around for many years. Back in 2002 I created the first live action book trailer and then trademarked the term "book trailer". Of course back in those days no one knew what it was and no one really cared.
    Then YouTube and MySpace were born.
    You can check out more videos on and please do check out the new Lisa Jackson video at

    My company, COS Productions, was the first to put a book trailer in the movie theaters and I'm happy to talk about that if Christa doesn't mind. I don't want to take up too much space without approval.

    I know that on Jan. 25th the NY Times will be running an article about authors and online marketing in which they discuss book trailers. That might be insightful.

    The awards videos mentioned in the comments are very nice. Done on HD. Since the college kids are making them and it is a contest where someone choose the cream-of-the-crop you can bet these wil always look good. But, could an author afford one? Those are $20,000 videos. Some authors could. Colleges don't have to pay for a lot of their resources. And they get volunteers, etc. Hard to compete with that.

    This blog is very insightful and I really enjoyed reading it and the comments!


    Sheila Clover English

  14. Shelia, first, thanks for visiting! I'm so glad you found my blog insightful and worth reading! :)

    I did get a sense after reading the article published in the SCBWI bulletin, as well as just browsing the mentioned sites (, etc) that they've been around for a few years. But to hear there is possibility of book trailers actually hitting theaters? That's fascinating and exciting!

    I may do a second article about book trailers because it's just so interesting, so I'd love to hear more about bt's going to theaters. I changed my profile so you can view my email if you're not comfortable sharing that (or some other form of contact) here. Maybe you could consider an "interview"? :-)

    And I can agree with you in concern to the cost, to make it look right, however video technology is getting cheaper and cheaper these days. My husband just recently purchased the Cannon HV30, an HD camera, for $550 at (the best place to go for price typically, and reviews and info). The quality is pristine! But enough about that, I could go on and on about how to cost effectively do a BT that looks close if not just the same as some of those award winning ones. The most expensive thing really is the lighting.

    Ok so enough of my rambling. Contact me if you want to go more in depth about the BT in movie theaters. :)

  15. Hi!

    I'm happy to chat! My email is sclover(at)

    I think if you Google NPR and Book Trailers you'll find something about book trailers in movie theaters. And I know on the 25th The New York Times is releasing an article that includes information on trailers.

    The theater approach and out-of-home platforms have brought trailers to millions (yes! MILLIONS!) of people.

    I look forward to hearing from you!



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