Book Trailers

Elizabeth Bluemle -- July 23rd, 2009

Since we’re on vacation, a little light entertainment is in order. We’ve been watching book trailers lately, trying to determine the best way to use them at our store and with customers. Embeddable videos can be placed on bookstore websites and in email blasts and on Facebook, links can be included in e-newsletters and in Twitter. I can even imagine turning to a great book trailer to intrigue a browsing teen if a book talk isn’t doing the trick.

I’ve often wondered why books didn’t have commercials the way movies did. (Well, I wondered that as a young person, before I understood the comparative economics of books and movies….) It seemed like such a great way to get the word out. So I’m happy that  authors and publishers are putting trailers on YouTube to let more people know about their new titles.

Some of these trailers are very slick, almost like mini-movies. Some are produced by publishers. Others are created by the authors themselves, who are either tech-savvy or hire help from companies that specialize in these kinds of bite-sized videos. Even the home-grown, simpler efforts can be quite appealing. Some trailers present only information about the book itself; others might include footage of an author sharing behind-the-scenes tidbits, or stop-action montages, or images and music that evoke a feeling rather than tell a story. Some of the best trailers are created by fans, out of sheer love for the book.

The possibilities are only just beginning to be explored. Like anything technological, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by a deluge of offerings, but there is so much possible good to be had from an effective book trailer that it’s worth taking a look at what’s out there.

Below are a few examples of trailers for recent and upcoming books. Booksellers, do you seek out book trailers? If so, how have you used them? Publishers, when you make the trailers, do you alert booksellers to their existence?

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater

If I Stay by Gayle Forman

Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson

Eternal by Cynthia Leitich Smith

And below, winners of the 2009 Teen Book Trailer Contest. Teens were invited make a short video (30 seconds to 3 minutes) about their favorite book, upload it to YouTube with a certain identifying tag name, and let the contest begin. We were impressed with what they came up with.

Booksellers, don’t forget to tell us if and how you use book trailers!

24 thoughts on “Book Trailers

  1. Martin Eisenstadt

    One suggestion for authors/publishers: Look at successful trailers on Youtube and see where their statistics say people are finding it from. For example, I found this blog through the Catch a Fire youtube video which showed this to be its biggest source of viewers. Elizabeth, are you doing a trailer roundup again, or is anyone else at PW? Sounds like a good regular feature. Alright, now that I offered a general suggestion, I’ll happily plug my own trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Np8tOn4HaiI

  2. Sarah M

    I came across a book trailer recently on youtube, an apparent Covey Award winner and was immediately ‘sold’ by the impressive music, footage and editing. I bought the book and loved it. I would not have known about it had I not found the trailer first…interesting…it is called “The Questory of Root Karbunkulus”

  3. shelftalker elizabeth

    Leani, if you go to YouTube and search for book trailers, you’ll see all kinds of options. You can refine with “YA” or “teen,” etc. It would be terrific to have a website for book trailers the way there are sites for movie trailers. Someone start that, wouldja? Archie, I’ve been away for a couple of weeks. Thanks for the reminder to follow up with IndieBound. More anon.

  4. Leani Bartol

    Wow! A teen did those? Impressive. Of course, I’m not tech savvy, so I may not be the best judge. LOL But I agree those books look fab. Is there a central website where we can search for book trailers? I’d like to get my middle school English classes more excited about books. Do they have any more for the classics–either real or humorous ones like that Sense and Sensibility one?

  5. Evelyn Richard

    I’m a librarian, and two book trailers my YAs are raving about were designed by a teen girl. I think they’re some of the most professional ones I’ve seen and, judging by the number of hits, they’re incredibly popular. My teen patrons can’t wait until these books come out in 2010. The teen who designed these has done others, too, for bestsellers like Eclipse. I think she’s one talented teen. Her website’s worth a look as well. Under My Skin by Judith Graves ISBN 978-1-61603-000-1 http://www.youtube.co/watch?v=0s3kQ4nnSEk Freaksville by Kitty Keswick ISBN 978-1-61603-001-8 http://www.youtube.co/watch?v=KrvLFZcwUPE

  6. archie

    I just happened on the S&S and Sea Monsters trailer myself last week as well. I laughed and laughed. I told my husband to come watch it with me and he stared at the screen with a strange look on his face. It took me a minute to realize he didn’t get it was a joke (and I thought I had him converted him to Austen!) :o) What’s the word on the Indie Bound book trailers? I’ve noticed they put some up for their summer picks…can Indie publishers post trailers there? How do we get bookstores to take a look?

  7. shelftalker elizabeth

    Elizabeth Dulemba’s blog led me to this hilarious trailer for the upcoming novel (for adults, not kids), Sense & Sensibility … and Sea Monsters. *snort* Note: There’s a bit o’ campy violence in this; didn’t disturb this relatively squeamish bookseller at all. It was funny. youtube.com/watch?v=_jZVE5uF24Q

  8. shelftalker elizabeth

    One of the potential advantages of publisher e-catalogs is the ability (I presume) to embed book trailers on the sales page for a book. (Not to mention widget coding for booksellers who wanted to use the trailers on their own sites). A good trailer could affect sales positively — and a bad trailer could kill some, so publishers would want to tread carefully. But it would be a great way for buyers to see trailers, and would elicit a lot more bookseller viewings than cold-call emails. About the links on chain-store websites; I’ll find out if IndieBound.org is set up to do anything like that.

  9. Jenni

    I too would like to know how to get the trailer to the right audience, and how to get them to view it. We’re on Twitter so I can spread the word there with a link to the trailer on our Web site, but how to get it out to librarians and booksellers??

  10. Archie

    I’ve been wondering if you mailed small inexpensive zip files to booksellers if they would actually use them to watch the trailers, or if they’d be too worried about viruses? I know Elizabeth mentioned in an earlier blog that booksellers just don’t have time to open all their promo email, and NEVER open attachments….so how do you get it seen by these guys Elizabeth? Big retailers like Barnes and Noble have a link on their site you can just send them the video yourself.

  11. CHRIS EBOCH

    I’m putting together my first book trailer, and it’s been an intense and fabulous experience. But the next question is, how do I get it out in front of people? I can post it on my web site and Facebook page and send it to my publisher. But are there other ways to get it in front of booksellers? (Other than trying to track down individual e-mail addresses for different stores.) Booksellers and librarians — how do you find book trailers? Do you only look for books you know?

  12. shelftalker elizabeth

    Hi, everyone. Just a request to not use the comments field for promotion, tempting though it may be. Comments about experiences producing or using book trailers are terrific and helpful for the readership, especially when they articulate what has and hasn’t worked. This doesn’t mean you can’t include a site link with examples, but the main purpose of the comment should be to expand on the original post in some way. Thanks so much! I do love reading the comments.

  13. Archie

    Elizabeth- As a new publisher with our first title out next month, I can tell you that we decided to put out a trailer for the book, and (while I don’t have any hard stats) the book is number 22 out of 907 on Barnes and Noble.com under the children’s “coming soon” section. I think it’s a great way to reach both the kids and their parents…ours is geared to the parents who would be purchasing the book for their 5 year old…but trailers that appeal to teenagers or older kids have just got to be the wave of the future. I see computer screens in bookstores where customers can get a preview of what they might be interested in buying….maybe you just pick up te book, scan the barcode and the trailer comes up for you (like the price of stuff when you shop at Target) also at the library…our fantastic new city library in SLC has computer screens for the patrons to look up call numbers etc. at the end of every book stack (along with those little pencils I love) …..what a great place to watch a trailer. Thanks for another great blog- wish ours had made your list! :o)

  14. Dianne de Las Casas

    I have two picture books and I produced book trailers for both of them (with the help of my tech-savvy teen daughter). My publisher loves them and I will be using them to help schedule blog tours and get the word out using social networking (I have a YouTube channel already). You can view both of them on my website in the press kit section under “Videos” at http://www.storyconnection.net Happy Tales to You!

  15. Heidi Huestis

    Book trailers are the new frontier of booktalking. I use them in library land with great success, especially for tweens and teens. Choice A) Librarian standing in front of a group of kids who are thinking about lunch, the test that is happening next period, etc… OR Choice B) Interactive, flashy, attention-grabbing video. Not a tough choice for the kids to make. Little do they know that it is still a suggestion from me – I’ve done the research! I say incorporate the booktrailers whenever you can. It is well worth the time.

  16. Julianne Daggett

    I think book trailers are a great idea, but its all in how you use it and present it. For example ABC 3D wasn’t even on anyone’s radar before the viral book video, and it was on the New York Times bestseller list for weeks. On the other hand, most book trailers fall flat and are hardly noticed by the reading public. On the sort of fanfic trialer edge are the Twilight videos, which most of them are well done, done by fans and are hilarious. These dedication videos are the best and I’ve laughed out loud to many of them “three murders and you have detention, Edward you have two already”. Smart videos are the way to go, but I believe that fan videos are the best because their done by fans who truly love the book(s). Perhaps there should be some small video book trailer companies or a studio partnership between film schools and publishers to put out great trialers at a cheap price. Also it would give the film students experience, could be a graded and/or industry exposeure and paid exericese. It would be great also if there would be a contest for the best book video(s) like there are for short films, because book trailers are more visual book synopsis, like when your friend tells you a story, than movie trailer and are in truth short films made to be ends in and of themselves. Just some thoughts.

  17. DARYL SLATON

    Regarding book trailers, I have created one for a new children’s picture book that I illustrated. (It was very well received recently at the ALA convention in Chicago. The publisher is finalizing details with distributors, so the book will be available through the usual outlets soon.) The trailer features some character animation. I would appreciate any feedback from booksellers. The trailer can be seen on YouTube. Please do a SEARCH for CosmoAnim3. Thank you.

  18. Carol Chittenden

    I’d love to use them, but getting the right one takes some research, i.e. time. (Time? What time???) For instance, there are many different ones for Catching Fire. I’d love authors and reps to send me links to the ones they feel are first rate!

  19. Joanne Fritz

    Great column, as always. I wish the bookstore where I work would start using book trailers on the website. Kids today are so much more visual. And book trailers seem to be hot right now. (Of course, the only one I’d seen before this was for Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters, which is not exactly a kids’ book! It’s a great trailer, though. Very funny.)

  20. Keith Ogorek

    At Author Solutions, we have found book trailers and author interviews to be effective tools for authors to use when promoting their books. The world is visual and viral and this type of content and promotion helps potential readers understand more about the book and the author who wrote it. What used to be on the book jacket can now be expressed visually. I think we will see more and more of them being produced.

  21. JANET LAWLER

    Elizabeth – this is very interesting, thank you! Have you done a book trailer for any of your picture books? Have you seen many for picture books? Do you think PB trailers are of value from your perspective as a bookseller? It seems most are for YA, adult or mid-grade. Hope you are having a great vacation!

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