A Novel Idea

Book Trailer Madness: Fools or Fellinis?

Posted on: August 18, 2010

The latest craze among writers and publishers (excluding eBooks) appears to be the Book Trailer. I subscribe to a number of trade periodicals and enewsletters and have noticed a sharp increase in ‘look at my new trailer’ plugs. Are these writers fools or Fellinis?

Picture courtesy of http://mapmagazine.com/free-art-exhibition-madridfederico-fellini-the-circus-of-illusions/

I’m all for the DIY approach to self promotion. Very few writers get much in the way of an advertising budget from their publishers. The ability to upload countless videos promoting oneself and one’s work to free streaming sites such as YouTube must seem a god send. Many writers are creative with more than just words so the chance to make their own movie-style trailer has added benefits.

As a teen I spent many hours behind a very heavy so called portable video camera and many more hours in our school’s editing suite. I’m pretty good at picking up new software, so once I finally land a publishing contract, I could in theory make my own book trailer. Could. In theory.

So far I am yet to come across a book trailer that has made me actually want to go out and BUY THE BOOK.

In fact, certain corners of the Internet seem infested by self-made, low-budget book trailers.

Here’s your chance to shamelessly self promote:

I challenge you to provide a link to your book trailer if you truly think it actually functions as a piece of successful advertising rather than wasting precious minutes of people’s lives like most ads. I’ll buy the first five books that actually make me want to pay hard earned cash for them. My only conditions: no horror, no holocaust themes, no misery memoirs. Life is too short to wallow in pain.

Book Trailers fall into a number of categories, but must be judged on their effectiveness to sell the book.

Amusing (and/or gross) Book Trailer – but I still won’t buy:

Example: Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters


Annoying (and/or disturbing) Book Trailer – Not only a ‘won’t buy’, but a ‘beware’. I may never come anywhere near your title for fear of repetition of mental anguish.

I came across a new novel book trailer that I won’t link to for fear of inducing epileptic fits in others. It was clearly a non-professional effort. Flashing images, crappy music, cheesy grab lines.

I really feel for the author. A first timer, no doubt with barely a coin to rub together. Unfortunately some advertising is so bad it makes you seem worse than an amateur. It says ‘I don’t care’. It makes me question the quality of the rest of your work.

Example: Feel free to post your own.

Engaging Book Trailer – makes me buy the book: Position Vacant.

See above challenge.

Is there a book trailer out there you sorely wish to re-do for the author? Perhaps a deserving book wronged by celluloid?

Write well. Write often.


(C) Copyright of the author. 2010.

7 Responses to "Book Trailer Madness: Fools or Fellinis?"

You know, I don’t get book trailers, it’s something I didn’t even know existed until about 2 weeks ago and it appears to be more for self-published authors, who may or may not be good writers (not implying all self-published authors are rubbish of course, I’m sure there’s plenty of good ones but the bad lot spoil the rest)

Have you seen any noteworthy trailers?

Not really, most appear a bit “cheesy”

Do you think these book trailers are coming about because the book is actually so bad the authors only hope for it is to try and make it look like it might be movie worthy? After watching the sample you linked to I had a good chuckle, but would I want to buy the book? No.
If it were a movie would I watch it? Maybe…on second thought….no.
It will be interesting to see the responses and results from your post.

I think a book trailer could be useful as a way of announcing a new book or simply serving as a summary for online purchasers.

One danger of the visual (particularly of showing main characters) is you’re confining the reader to that version. It’s the same problem film adaptations of well loved novels face: turning off the reader through poor casting.

The idea of trailers for books is bizarre. If I ever were published, and my publisher suggested one, though, I would want to find whoever did that Dante’s Inferno game trailer that aired during the superbowl. That was just some dude falling for 30-seconds, and I was riveted.

I’ve been out of town, so only just saw your comment. Not being in the US, I tracked the clip you mentioned down to YouTube. That version had ‘Ain’t no sunshine’ playing in the background – did the superbowl version as well?

Again, trailer effectiveness comes back to action post trailer – did you buy the game?

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  • Violet: Thanks Alannah :) Apologies for not replying sooner: I'm finally catching my breath and the year is almost over!
  • Alannah Murphy: I remember your first post, way back when I had my old Here Be Dragons blog, and I am glad you are still writing. We all find out, sooner or later, ho
  • Violet: Good to hear that Aaron. Good Luck with your work.
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