Surely I'm not the only one here who thinks book trailers are awful. They make would could be a AAA novel seem like a tie-in for a made-for-TV movie. But I've recently discovered a better way to promote your story. I don't really have a name for it, maybe video book, so let me just describe it and then show it to you.

I was playing Lost Odyssey, a fantasy role playing video game. The main character, Kaim, is an immortal mercenary who is 1,000 years old. After an accident, he is unable to remember his past. As the story progresses, bits and pieces of Kaim's memory return.

His returning memories are presented via short stories written by Japanese novelist Kiyoshi Shigematsu. For example, in one scene Kaim sees a church bell and it triggers a memory. The memory is a short story that you (the player) actually read on screen. It consists of a periodically changing background image with the text displayed Powerpoint slideshow fashion, with sound effects at appropriate times. Might sound confusing so, I'll just show you one of the short stories.

In my opinion, this is a much better way to present a story than a book trailer. However, you might be thinking, that's great for a short story, but what about a novel?

While you could present an entire novel this way, I think it's best for suited for short stories. However, you could present your first chapter or a random excerpt in place of a book trailer.

This format could also be used to make online journals more interesting.

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That's a pretty cool video.

And, I agree, there's a lot of potential there.

While there's a lot of overlap between readers and movie-goers, so far book trailers seem to be made for people who like movies and don't like to read - they use the same, "as little text as possible," approach. Putting a few pages of the book into a video-like setting could work really well. It's also an interesting way to present a short story, or a flash fiction.

Thanks for posting this.
I've gotta tell you, this thing bored the crap out of me. Maybe because I'm a fast reader and it took forever for the "slide" to change. I gave up after a few seconds.

If you're going to show excerpts of your book, why not simply have an excerpt of your book? Most people who read are interested in reading and don't need the distraction of mysterious fog and gentle music.

As for book trailers, I have mixed feelings about them. Some of them are truly awful, some are very good, and some are just ho-hum. But the problem is that the techniques used in them are the same techniques we see in movie trailers and, as a consequence, they are (to my mind, at least) misleading. The first time I saw a good book trailer I thought, ooooh, when's THIS movie coming out? Only to be disappointed when I realized it was a book.

Movies are promoted with mini-versions of the movie. So why not promote books with a mini-version of a book? In other words, with an excerpt -- as I said earlier.

This won't, of course, stop me from making book trailers. A lot of people seem to enjoy them for whatever reason and why not give them what they want and promote your book at the same time? Unless it's truly godawful, I don't see how it can hurt.

Well, in the game you can press a button to get all the text on the screen at once (you can see a green "A" button on the bottom right of the screen in the video).

I've yet to see a good book trailer myself. If you can point me to some I wouldn't mind seeing them.
I found this to be painfully slow. Some book trailers are also too slow. I believe the value of book trailers is to capture the attention, give a brief visual synopsis and hopefully whet the reader's appetite. They are of value for books bought on line, that don't have the luxury bookstore books have, of a cover on display and permitting the potential reader to browse. If the trailer attracts interest, the reader can then go to the "inside" facilities available from Google and Amazon. I also believe it is wise to renew the trailer from time to time.
I made a trailer sort of in this style. Early days yet, we'll see. It's on my blog:
Pretty good. Try putting a drop shadow on the text to create more separation between the text and the background. Also, yellow (I'm thinking Boston Bruins yellow, nothing too bright) is a great color for subtitle text, though I don't know if you like that color scheme.
Thanks. I tried the yellow, it looks good. I'm still thinking books, you know, black and white text and all that. the yellow also works well with the cover of the book at the end.
I like this book trailer a lot-
I think there are a lot of great trailers out there.
Trailers appeal to readers who want to browse visually online, but they are also meant for people who only read occasionally. They are presented in a medium that is easy to distribute online and it, at least currently, popular.

As a producer of book trailers I know they are effective because we get feedback from readers, booksellers, publishers and libraries. I think that anything that encourages someone to get excited about reading is worth the effort.
Allison Brennan has consistently good book trailers and national book chains have featured hers on their websites. Here's a link to Playing Dead--one of her latests.

And Lisa Jackson's have always been excellent too. Nice post, Sheila.

These types of trailers are very expensive since they are done by a production company. The last time I got a quote of it, they were several thousand dollars. Too rich for me. I make my own for now--for free--using microsoft moviemaker. Mine pale by comparison to Allison's or Lisa's but they allow me to post in a few places from my website to youtube. And my house posts on their various sites and with booksellers too. And like many of you have said, I can't justify the expense since I don't know if it translates to actual sales. So for now, free is good and I can control what gets out there without paying someone else. Plus these are fun to make.

If you want to know how this was free and what I do to put these together, I have an article on my FOR WRITERS page at my website on making free book trailers. I also put fun ones together that are more personal for posting on MySpace & Youtube, like the political satire one I did for Christmas that merged It's A Wonderful Life with Politics - "Is it a Wonderful Life? You Betcha!" That's on youtube at jordandanebooks.

Like Rob implied, trailers are not an author's main schtick and I'd rather be writing. Yet trailers seem to be popular for whatever reason and I will continue to make them too. But I can choose how much money I spend on them. And for now, free is good.
I think John D is right, a book trailer needs to be something other than a movie trailer. It's fine for the movie trailer to tell you a bit about the story and show some visual images - those are the elements you're looking for in a movie, but a book is different - the writing style is the book's version of the visual images and that's what needs to be showcased somehow.

It's a tough one, that's for sure.
I agree John that you have to show your writing style in some way, but I don't think a book trailer (in a minute or two--the attention span of most people) is the best way to do that. That's why you have your website & blogs & social networks and many other ways to get your work out there. All of it is a time suck, however, so we all need to find a balance that works for us, one that allows quality writing time.

But I like the discussion here and the presentation of John D's. Something new. I like it.
I agree, Jordan.

Your genre and even your brand can be shown in a trailer, but your writing style is best shown in blogs, social networks and first chapters on your website. Your trailer is really meant to help pull people to your website, or act as a catalyst to impulse buys.

The trailers that are not live action are not that expensive. Yours are always great and you're so lucky to have that talent!

The other part of the equation is distribution and effectiveness. Even our $300 book videos get put up on the site and Powell's. And they go out to over 5000 libraries as well. Why invest in a trailer and then not follow through with appropriate distribution to a dedicated target audience. YouTube is fine, but GoodReads is better. You might get more views on YouTube, but chances are you'll get more buys from GoodReads.

And I agree totally with you on how some of this can become a time suck. Choose what you like to do. That's probably the best. Who wants to invest time in something they don't enjoy doing?



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