Do You Watch Book Trailers?

Elizabeth Bluemle -- March 7th, 2014

I’ll admit that I am not the most plugged-in person on the planet. I don’t spend much time watching YouTube videos, although I admit I will follow Facebook leads to the occasional snippet of goats bouncing on sheet metal, sneezing baby pandas, or really cool flash mobs and worldwide orchestral projects. Basically, videos have to come to me, and knock hard on the door, before I notice.

I think I’m missing out on book trailers. I’m not sure if it’s because I don’t frequent the websites or blogs where they are unrolled to the public, or if I’m not noticing promotions that arrive in my inbox. The ones I’ve seen have usually been terrific. But do people watch them?

For me, the most successful lures to watch a trailer have been via the author’s own website or an appealing widget in an industry email, like PW Daily or Shelf Awareness. There are a lot of beautiful and/or intriguing and/or charming book trailers out there, and I’ve very much enjoyed the ones I’ve seen, although I’m not sure if that always translates into my seeking out the book. Trailers are a marvelous tiny art form, yet one that I’m not entirely sure finds its audience.

I suspect that a lot of school kids and teens watch book trailers, and, even better, MAKE them for the books they love. I’m not as sure that trailers for picture books get seen, and yet one of my all-time favorite book trailers is Katie Davis‘s “Little Chicken’s Big Day,” which won the 2012 Trailee Award:

I saw that trailer in a seminar Katie led. In other words, once again, I was very specifically led to it. Are teachers and librarians and parents who aren’t already seeking out an author’s books finding these trailers, I wonder? And does it even matter if the videos only reach people who are fans already? What exactly is their purpose, their value, and their reach?

Readers, what is your experience with book trailers? Do you like them? Do you watch trailers for authors you don’t know personally, or whose books you aren’t already familiar with? Publishing folks, do you find that trailers are driving exposure and/or sales?

[Edited to add the following:]

Thinking about the topic made me wish there were some kind of website or app that served as a gathering place for all book trailers and was sortable by age range and genre, and perhaps some way to highlight the more amazing of the student-made trailers. Surely there is a student at Emerson or Simmons who would want to take this on…. : )

11 thoughts on “Do You Watch Book Trailers?

  1. Roberta Meyer

    As a school librarian, I love to use book trailers to promote books to students. Since they are so plugged in, it is a visual aid to get kids excited about books. I look them up on YouTube.

  2. Dianna Winget

    I rarely watch them myself, but I’d be delighted if one of my publishers created one for my middle grade novels. On Twitter, Mr. ShuReads features everything related to children’s book trailers.

  3. Laura Purdie Salas

    I’m a writer, and I make book trailers and videos…but I don’t watch that many of them. I am just not a video-watching person, in general. Only when my husband sends me a clip he thinks I love or when a writer friend asks me to. Otherwise, I am sacreligiously ignorant of all the cool YouTube clips:>( (Though I watch all sorts of cool “nonfiction” videos on yt when doing research–so great to really hear the noise an animal makes, or see the details of a certain city or building up close.)

  4. Jaime

    Good questions. I don’t really watch book trailers, although i love reading and i love movies. I guess i still judge a book by its cover and the blurb. I do think they are an interesting development in book marketing, probably in an attempt to appeal to a more tv-/movie-centric audience?

  5. Katie Davis

    Elizabeth, this is exactly why I tell writers that book trailers aren’t the first videos they should be making. They’re not the most important ones they should be concentrating on. Yes, they’re fun, and if well done can be another layer in one’s marketing campaign. But it’s just one of at least 10 kinds of videos writers should be creating in a platform. The internet is led by video and visuals. Most of the traffic on the internet, if not already, will soon be via video. You don’t have to be techy to make them! Just get ‘em out there!

  6. Tara

    I watch them and use them. I lead an Adult Book Discussion group in my branch library. If the publisher has a book trailer that is well done in production, etc., then I will show that at the end of the discussion to whet the interest for the next month’s title.

    Also if people ask about an upcoming book, I will point out the trailer to them.

  7. cece

    I do watch book trailers, though I can’t recall any for adult books. I use them to find out more about a book I think has promise. I share them with people I think will also enjoy the book or their children will. They seem to come to me as I’m not sure the sources. Publishers sites, newsletters and similar places where anyone can sign up are the places I think send me the trailers.

  8. George R. Appelt Jr.

    I also seem to only watch book trailers that have been pointed out by someone else on Facebook or Twitter. However, I know of at least one sale of my first novel “Shepherd’s Fall” that resulted from a potential reader watching the book trailer. I was signing books at a local festival, and a family approached my table. After talking to me about my novel for a few moments they left. Ten minutes later they returned all excited and bought my book. They had gone out to my website and watched the trailer and that was the tipping point.
    So I guess trailers work like any other advertisement. The key must be finding ways to place them where your reading audience will spot them.

  9. Morgan

    I don’t have as much patience for watching YouTube videos as most people in my generation (Y). I watch book trailers from time to time, but like you, only when I’m made specifically aware of them. I don’t seek them out to find out more about a book, and I find cover copy still does a better job of showing me what a book’s about and whether I’m interested in reading it or not.

    On the other hand, I do love the idea of fan-made book trailers! I would be more excited about those than I generally am about book trailers as marketing tools. (I may have to take a look and see if there are any out there, as a matter of fact!) I grew up reading and writing fanfiction, and if video editing tools had been easily available back then, I’m sure I would have gotten into making fan videos too, for books, movies and TV shows alike.

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