Book Trailers: Um, No.

Weekend Chat: 3 Reasons Why Book Trailers Don’t Work

Every week I receive and search for great book trailers to promote on Christian Fiction Blog. In the beginning I was excited about what I found. It was a new concept, so I was game. However, after a few months of posting book trailers and reading others I’ve come to a conclusion. Book Trailers Don’t Work and here’s why:

She’s right.

I have in my Bookmarks a site that collects book trailers. I rarely go there.

What’s better than a book trailer?

Video of an author reading an excerpt of his work, like Christopher Fowler does here.

Audio of an author reading his work, as Cliff Burns does here.

Look what audio did for Mark Jeffrey:

His first podiobook, Max Quick 1: The Pocket and the Pendant, has received over 2 million downloads to date.

Go on, point me to a book trailer with as many views!

I was initially excited about the idea of book trailers too. But the more I saw, the less I liked them. So many are just so bad, I can’t see how they can generate any interest in the book being flogged.

Plus, the very idea of watching a video for something to be read seems, to me, just bizarre. A local talk radio station once spent a great deal of money advertising on TV. That seemed bizarre to me too.

I believe there is a hierarchy:

Reading
Audio
Video

And each one competes against the other. I’d rather read a book than listen to it. I’d rather listen to radio than see it. I’d rather watch video for stuff that’s best suited to it. (On this last point, how many of you have read a book based on a TV series and came away with the uneasy feeling that something was simply … missing?)

Also, since most books being sold have free excerpts available to read, why settle for someone else’s poor video advertising interpretation instead? Why, in fact, run the risk of repelling people from a book? Attention is precious on the Internet.

The money being spent on book trailers could be better used hiring a temp to do nothing more than go through the Internet day after day and find likely blogs to market books to via email invites. I really doubt that people going to YouTube, Vimeo, Veoh, et al, are there to find something to read.

Hmmm … and you know, even hiring a temp isn’t cost-effective. Why should each publisher reinvent the wheel? This is a business for someone sharp out there. (And if such a business already exists, the people running it aren’t very sharp. Why the hell hasn’t my email box been swamped with book stuff? I receive tweets from three publishers. But have they even tried to follow-up with emails? Noooo!)

Generating interest in eBooks as eBooks is going to be even more difficult because the most likely way people will encounter them is via an eBookstore, a promo email from such a store, or a website or blog. There are no shelves to browse. On the Internet, the shelves are invisible.

Just before I was about to post this, I got this via Twitter: Study: When it comes to influence, bloggers beat friend lists

Half of all those surveyed who identify as “blog readers” (people who read more than one blog per month, a fifth of total survey respondents) say that blogs are important to them when it comes to making purchasing decisions. But they don’t necessarily find them to be all that reliable: only 15 percent of blog readers, and five percent of all those surveyed said that in the past year they had trusted a blog to help them make a purchase decision.

That’s still higher than the number of people who said they used social-network recommendations, though: ten percent of “blog readers,” and four percent of all those surveyed.

I have a MySpace account. For a time, I used it daily. Now, hardly ever.

I disagree with the philosophy of such aggregator sites. MySpace has gotten singularly annoying, outright censoring links that are passed on to me via MySpace Mail or Bulletins. Plus, MySpace pages tend to be bloated as hell and I dread clicking links because I never know if that click is going to freeze up my browser and force me to crash-restart it.

I can see the appeal of such sites for those who really want to network with people they actually know. But beyond that, it becomes a very annoying marketing machine with a very high noise-to-signal ratio.

I know that writers and publishers are on MySpace. I’m beginning to think that’s a mistake. I don’t see it being a good strategy for eBook awareness except to that limited MySpace audience. And if you’re going to put that amount of effort into MySpace, why not the larger Internet?

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