Video book trailers do not sell books. Sample chapters, good reviews and word-of-mouth sell books.


Video trailers provide a visual way to draw attention to the fact the work exists. Beyond that, it doesn't say much about the experience of reading. If you bought my Cleansing Eden crime novel from Amazon, you wouldn't be watching a video.

So are they worth the effort? They are if you...


1) Like to make video book trailers.



2) Create something buzzworthy.




3) You already have a massive audience and want a different way to get the word out.


I fall into 1). Choosing pictures, music and copy is interesting to me. Did it sell the Cleansing Eden novel? I don't think so. But I had fun doing it. As with much of creative writing, this is the litmus test. If I enjoy it, I'm going to do it.

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I'm puzzled.  Isn't the whole point to send people to the book for whatever they're looking for?  In other words, something in the book should fit the tag.  Having said this, I'll admit I flounder on tags.  There are many to choose from for a novel.  I have no idea which of them will bring more people to the page.  Is there a web site that lists the most searched-for tags?


I'll look for the exact directions and post them, but there is a way through Google to create a list of that type of information.

Thanks, Clay.  Hate to trouble you.  I see Amazon lists some of them, a fairly short list.  Very little of it applies to my books.  Which may explain things.

No trouble Ingrid.

If you go to Google's Adwords Tools and Analysis Page, you can do searches by keywords. You do not have to be a adwords advertiser to use this tool.

If you have a google/gmail account, it helps to sign in, as you won't have to deal with typing in those annoying captcha phrases.

As an example of what you can find, I did a search for the keywords "Japanese mysteries" and no website, no category.

In the last 30 days, there have been 590 searches on Google for that phrase, and 290 of those have been in English in the United States.

The result also offers stats on alternate phrases:

  • Japanese mystery writers (73 global searches)
  • Japanese mystery (6,600 global searches)
  • Japanese mystery novels (91 global searches)

In each and every case, competition is "low", meaning not many people are using those keyword tags on their websites. It also tells you how much per click and ad using those keywords would cost you.

The key is you can play around with all kinds of phrases and see how many people are searching for those keywords. It provides some good, basic insights.

I'm torn on book trailers.  In my mind, they should be a little like log-lines, just enticing enough to get the reader/viewer to look closer at the author or book.  Frankly, most trailers I've seen are just too long, a swirl of images that don't tell me anything much about the book.  This is just my opinion, of course, but I think anything over a minute is too long.  And it goes without saying that an amateurish one would (I'm guessing) turn the viewer away from the book itself.

It looks like I'm saying video trailers are a minefield, and maybe that's right, but I can definitely see the attraction of putting one together.  I"m hoping my publisher will do it for me. :)

I agree completely, Mark.  They're like putting   a thesis book report on the dust jacket, going on and on and on about characters and plot.  

Not all... the ones that seem effective are the quickies.

I don't believe they are effective. I doubt many people (general readers) buy books because of a trailer. Especially if the trailer is just a book cover and some still pictures. Book samples, social networking, blogs and reviews in places where your key audience will see the book are an author's best bet. Even then there's no guarantee anyone will check out the book. It's fine if the author just wants to do one though. It couldn't hurt unless the trailer is so bad it turns people off from your book.

I don't think the idea is "people buy books because of the video".  I run around with some ad pros and they don't talk like that.  Because it would be silly.

A superbowl ad, even, makes people aware of a product, or lights it up.   It's, as a thankfully ex boyfriend put it, "part of a complex matrix that nudges the decision to buy."

If you have a video that gets somebody to click on your site or visit you amazon page for the book, you won.  You can't expect it to tie somebody down and stick a credit card swiper to their head.

So--my own thoughts here--if you are going to do something to show people your brand, what ways is anybody suggesting as better than a video?   

I think the key, particularly in regards to branding, is to step back and look at the total picture.

How do people, including readers, learn about, and identify with, brands? There are lots of ways, including writing (press releases, stories, news articles), video (youtube, etc.,), television, audio/radio, graphics, etc.

As with each other piece, a trailer can enhance your brand. Poorly done, it can harm your brand.

It is also important to remember WHY you are making the trailer. Branding can be supportive of direct sales, but the techniques for each are quite different. I've seen too many book trailers that have no call to action, no ordering information. They are branding trailers but the author expects the direct sale from them, and then doesn't understand why sales do not come.

Cammy and Mark have put their fingers on something important.  Does a movie trailer "make" you want to see the movie or is it part of reminding you that the movie is available.  Obviously, it is one element of your decision.  If you are a fan of say, Lord of the Rings, then a trailer telling you that The Hobbit is coming out is all you need.  I'm a fan of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.  The trailer told me that they got the look and the actors right, but I still read a movie review before I went.  I think that is the way to use book trailers, but (and this is a big one) they have to be enticing and professional.  

Like everyone, I've looked at a lot of trailers and most are amateurish and didn't entice me to do anything.  A good trailer needs to be something that grabs your imagination and sticks with you so that when you do look for a book the trailer comes to mind.

How to do that?  I'm working on it.  I've just bought Proshow Producer (professional slideshow software) and a couple of articles on how to make a trailer.  Also, I'm studying the structure of movie trailers to understand how they get their message out.  I'll keep everyone updated.

Like everyone, I've looked at a lot of trailers and most are amateurish and didn't entice me to do anything.

Brian, to me this is key, and it ties in with another conversation about the price of ebooks. Essentially, I've found many (not all certainly) self-published authors far too willing to engage in skill areas where they simply lack the skill. This includes making video trailers, designing their book covers, formatting, aspects of marketing.


Do they want to control the entire project? They can still control it by hiring professionals to handle these other tasks.

Or is it that at 99 cents, they've priced themselves out of professionalism? I think it has far more to do with pricing and devaluation of work. Therefore you get no marketing, poor trailers,  crappy book covers, and marginal formatting.

I just replied to one of Clay's comments in another thread by implying prices were neither good nor bad; they are what they are, we can't control the economic conditions, we all have to make peace with it.


I left out a key element that he catches here. Below a certain price, the costs of professionalism cannot be met. At $0.35/book income, the author can't afford to have his cover professionally done, or the book formatted, or any marketing to speak of unless he's prepared to take a loss. Doing all of the above is above and beyond the call of duty for a lot of authors, and let's be honest, a lot of self-published $0.99 cent authors have already overextended themselves.Spreading themselves any thinner can only hurt the quality of their books, which will hurt their sales down the road..


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