Monday, March 9, 2009

Even Novels Need Visuals

About two or three months ago, I stumbled across my first book trailer. I admit, I'm not the first to come across most new digital things, so they've probably been around a lot longer than a few months. However, has anyone else noticed an exponential increase in number of authors who chose to create trailers for their book? If I knew more about flash, film, or film editing, I'd be starting up a new business right about now.

The quality of these trailers varies from the most basic--pictures set to move like a slide show with a little music and frames of words to tell the story, much like the original "silent" films (check out Jerk, California and my interview with Jonathan Friesen on NON for an example) to highly choreographed, scripted, and acted previews (check out today's new NON interview with Jessica Brody and her phenomenal trailer for The Fidelity Files).

I'm not sure what I think about these. The future published author in me balks at these trailers because they feel like they're fast becoming one more thing I'll likely be expected to do to market my novel. I feel like I'm whining--okay, I am whining--but doesn't it seem ridiculous that authors are expected to be gifted in their craft and adept at marketing, selling, and merchandising (not to mention they have to run a website, have a facebook and myspace page, and have a blog)? (I believe Twittering is in there now, too, but I've yet to look into that.) Now we have to know how to put together a (very) miniature movie? I see why authors who make a living at this promptly hire personal assistants of one form or another. (Mom, I hope you're not going to be busy in about a year and are willing to trade your time for access to high-speed Internet...)

All whining aside, I realize the marketing genius of the trailers--it's easier to draw people in to view a two- to five-minute "preview" than to get people to read three paragraphs of text that says the same thing. Thus, more people are exposed to the novel, and more people can rush out and buy it, telling all their friends about it along the way.

As a reader, I love them. It's fun to see the author's interpretation of their jacket copy in a miniature film, and it's a quick way for me to learn about the novel. What's your opinion of book trailers? Have you seen a lot of them? Do you like them? Are you more inclined to buy a book if there's a trailer? Have you ever bought a book just because of the trailer?


Ashley said...

I totally agree. I've spent all those hours, sweating and worrying over my book, editing it relentlessly, sent out a query letter (only to be rejected 10 times), I finally get a book deal, and then I have to make a darn trailer too?

Um, what?!

I know we live in technologically advanced age, but come on. Whatever happened to the old-fashioned way of marketing a book? Assuming I know what that is, snicker.

Personally, I've watched a few book trailers and I can get the same information by reading the back of the book. Heck, give me both the good and the bad reviews on and only then will I maybe take the time to read a book. Amazon is my first stop. I never think of trailers. Besides, sometimes, they can be a little corny.

Just my two cents.

Rebecca Chastain said...

I agree that many have turned out corny, obviously produced by amateurs more used to playing with text than film. I wonder, though, if the few that are really good help garner interest in making the book into a movie or TV show (like with The Fidelity Files, interviewed on

Also, I wonder how long it'll be before Amazon starts offering links to the trailers on the book's page.