So, as usual, people who are making things are looking for ways to get people to buy those things. In the publishing industry that means getting people to buy books. Clearly. What is changing drastically is the way publishers are having to get their content across.
For a long time, marketing for books was limited to print adverts and good reviews, combined with author appearances. The internet is changing that. Not only can authors meet and greet fans without having to leave their bedroom, but multi-media advertising is becoming the expected method of marketing any new product.
Because of this, book trailers are becoming more common for every genre. It’s important to remember is that this is a growing sector of the industry and growing sectors need time to find their place. Book trailers are definitely still working hard to find theirs.
It seems to me that the biggest mistake being made with book trailers is the tendency to advertise the book as though it were a film. This is especially true of children’s books, where the use of book trailers over the internet has been spreading since at least 2007.
A good example is this trailer for The Alchemyst by Michael Scott:
Even though the trailer is well made and intriguing, it doesn’t necessarily make me want to read the book. It actually makes me want to see the film. Crucially, if I do choose to pick up the book, having seen that trailer will change the experience of reading it for the first time. I’ve already been given an image of the characters, places and emotions I’m about to read, and that is going to impact on my experience when I start looking at the words.
A more effective trailer, for me at least, is for James Thurber’s The Thirteen Clocks;
This, even though it is adding to the reading experience with images, stays true to the text of the book. I think the reason I prefer this method of advertising is that it is doing what a trailer does. It is offering a sample of the product to encourage you to buy more. That advert sold me the content of the book, rather than the content of a non-existent movie.
The future of book trailers is very much evolving. Fan made trailers (like this one) are one of the best ways to encourage a grass-roots readership and engage with an audience, and are particularly popular when it comes to series of books.
Over time, the effectiveness of the different types of trailer will be proven (or not) and publishers will start to create content which sells their books. Until then, I’m going to choose my books in the old-fashioned way. By asking Twitter what’s good…
UPDATE: Some kind soul over at Twitter pointed me in the direction of this trailer for Scott Westerfeld’s Leviathan:
Another beautiful example of advertising a book through making the words the most important part of the experience.