Discussion: Does Anyone Actually Watch Book Trailers?

I’m not trying to be my usual snarky self about this topic but I’m genuinely interested: do people actually watch the trailers for books?  It seems that every author and/or publisher releases them for their books but I really fail to see the point.  The ones I’ve seen had really poor production value and were essentially just readings of the book blurb (which I could have done myself much more quickly and without the cheesy graphics).  No doubt there are probably some ‘good’ book trailers out there but I really just don’t see the point.

I asked this question last year in a discussion and most people said they don’t watch book trailers but now that my audience is significantly bigger I want to pose the question to a wider audience.  It’s possible that I’m just missing the point.

So do you watch book trailers?  If so, could you link to an example of a good one?  If not, why?  If you’re an author, have you had a book trailer done and why or why not?  Did it help with marketing your book?

28 comments

  1. Jemima Pett

    Funny – I asked this question last year too, at a book fair, and it was addressed to (or answered by) the Goodreads representative. His reply was that they had no evidence that they helped or hindered sales or reads of the book in question, and he advised not to spend money on them. Do them by all means, but don’t spend money that would be better spent on other forms of promotion.

    I’ve never looked at any but one done for a project I was involved in (which was neat, basically slides of the covers), but then my broadband used not to be able to cope with videos, and now I think it’s my RAM or something instead…

    • Carrie Slager

      That’s actually good to know that someone is trying to figure out whether or not they actually influence sales. I think most of the time the money could be better spent elsewhere like editing or other marketing but I can see where it might be useful in the vlogging community.

  2. Martha Reynolds

    You know, Carrie, I’ve never made one. I’ve read plenty of posts from “experts” who say I MUST have a book trailer. Why? And you’re right about the poorly-made ones. If I can’t afford a professional production, I’m not going to make one. And I’d rather spend money on a good editor!

  3. Sally Ember, Ed.D.

    I used Animoto to make free trailers for my two ebooks, 3 for one and 2 for the other. I noticed a jump in sales both times (any time) I post(ed) them and they’ve each gotten dozens of views on YouTube (but NOT garnered dozens of sales).

    I’ve also seen VERY CHEESY and NEVER-should-have-been-made, much less funded, book trailers that made me cringe. If anything, they guaranteed I would NEVER buy those books. Really.

    All that said, a few people have commented positively about mine, which you can find via my website or youtube channel. You decide.

    I definitely would never spend money on creating them, though.

    Best to you,

    Sally

    • Carrie Slager

      Yay, thanks for the response from an actual author who has done one! I guess the majority of authors who read my blog don’t. 🙂

      Thank you for the links as well. I’m definitely going to get them checked out when my internet is better. Right now it keeps cutting in and out.

  4. Tammy

    As a reader, I don’t ever watch book trailers, but that’s just me. Clearly there is an audience for them! I’ve seen ONE that was really good, but most are awful.

    • Carrie Slager

      Yeah, as Mark Lee said further down in the comments they’re mostly for the vlogging community rather than us bloggers. There is a place for them but I just don’t know how much they actually influence sales.

    • Carrie Slager

      I think it is worth your while to check out a few of books you’ve already read just to see what the fuss is about and if you like them, go for books you’ve never read. But I don’t think it’s something to really go out of your way to do.

  5. Mark Lee (@MasqCrew)

    I see two possible uses for them.

    1. Give new blog readers a reason to stay on your blog for a few seconds longer. You could embed a video on the side of your blog where it will be visible with each page view. Might be slightly more effective than simply a book cover.

    This would also expose your blurb to ones who don’t go clicking to see what your books are about. That requires an extra action. Sitting there and watching a 30 sec video takes a lot less effort, especially if they are not in a hurry.

    2. If you use YouTube as a blogging platform. One video on YouTube probably won’t get a lot of hits, but if an author is active on YouTube, posting lots of video — AKA Vlogging — the exposure of a book trailer would be a lot more.

    By posting lots of videos, an author could use the visual medium to do a lot more than just display their blurb, such as sample readings by the author. In any event, I think voice over is missing in a lot of book trailers, even if it’s just the author reading the blurb as it comes on the screen. The more senses engaged, the better.

    Low production value shouldn’t be a factor. Even just a marquee type video can work, especially if it’s meant to put just a little bit of motion to an otherwise stationary blog. Choosing cheap pictures or lousy music will kill it, though.

    • Carrie Slager

      Thank you Mark! You’re the superior marketing expert here and that all makes sense. The vlogging community would certainly be a target audience but I just don’t know how much it would influence sales unless you’re an author that is very active on YouTube as you say.

      I phrased that badly. By low production value I meant done cheaply and poorly but obviously you can do one for free that actually looks decent.

  6. piroska

    I actually find them very irritating, and off-putting. So while I have watched a few, they certainly didn’t sway me to want to read the book. I also don’t watch movie trailers. There’s nothing more disappointing than seeing a movie, and realizing that the only funny parts were already seen in the trailer! :o)

    • Carrie Slager

      So true! I really only deliberately watch trailers for Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead so I can start theorizing. I don’t take them too seriously; it’s more of a fun guessing exercise.

      Some trailers seem irritating and off-putting but I’m sure there are good ones out there. I just don’t have the time or energy to seek them out.

  7. Mark Lee (@MasqCrew)

    I’d like to point out that most people who read this blog probably don’t watch book trailers as much as someone who follows Book Review Vloggers on YouTube. There is an audience for them—perhaps even book trailers, but just putting up a video on a “text” blog won’t necessarily be enough.

    • Carrie Slager

      That’s a fair point and that’s why I wanted authors who have done book trailers to chime in. Does posting a visual for what is essentially a text product work? It would be interesting if there were actually numbers on this sort of thing but no one seems to do product research with books. (At least they don’t release the results publicly.)

  8. Author Unpublished

    I can honestly say I’ve seen all of two book trailers, and both were so laughably done that they could have been made into their own meme’s. I don’t go looking for them, and I generally don’t let them influence my book buying habits. If the trailers were for a show, that’d be one thing… but a book trailer doesn’t give me any indication at all about how well a book will be written. The format just doesn’t seem to suit my interests.

    • Carrie Slager

      No and it doesn’t really suit mine either. I suppose to get a more unbiased opinion you would have to pose this question to the book vlogging community as well but all the same I don’t think the majority of readers are greatly influenced by them.

  9. betternotbroken

    No. I am one of those people who feel put out when CNN wants me to watch a two minute commercial followed by a 4 minute video news segment of talking heads instead of just spitting it out for me in 100 words or less in text format. Like others, I find them low budget and cheesy most of the time and I would rather just read about it. I always get the feeling they are tying to sell the book, so they are trying too hard. I wonder if the traffic they get on Youtube are readers land potential costumers like myself or makers of videos checking out what is out there . . . well, you asked. Video trailers for a visual medium of film or video and text summaries or reviews for text products is what I enjoy.

    • Carrie Slager

      Yes, I’m also not a very visual person so I completely understand. I hate watching long news segments unless it’s real investigative journalism because I can just read the article on their site in less than half the time. The commercials are endlessly annoying as well.

      • betternotbroken

        I heard thee is a program to block the ads on Youtube and other sites. I was so perturbed one day at CNN, I vowed to boycott all products that barged their way into my life unannounced via computer. Then I just elected to ignore them and not be perturbed. It would be interesting to see the statistics of clicks and traffic for book trailer sites though, you never now.

    • Carrie Slager

      Don’t feel left out because I didn’t really know book trailers were a thing until about 2 years ago, a year into my blogging hobby. They’re becoming bigger with books by uber-popular authors but I still don’t think they’ll be a huge part of most authors’ marketing budgets.

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