A reader wrote in yesterday to ask my opinion of book trailers. I answered that I don't think very much of them. In my opinion, they're not terribly effective and probably a waste of money. (Although, if they can be produced cheaply, they probably won't hurt.)
When pressed for an explanation of why I think they don't work, I shared the following reasons (off the top of my head):
- Most book trailers are amateurish.
- They appear to be advertising something other than a book (e.g., a movie) and are thus confusing to the consumer.
- Most of the audience is unfamiliar with or unaware of book trailers, and thus their impact is minimal.
- Most readers don't seem to like them very much. I've never heard readers talk about them and never seen them generate word of mouth.
- They're a form of "push marketing" and thus have to be combined with additional forms of marketing in order to be effective -- but most authors don't use them that way. They post the trailer on their website and on YouTube and that's it. But how is the prospective audience supposed to find them?
I do think book trailers can be somewhat effective when used as part of a larger marketing campaign -- the kind of thing done for bestselling and other high profile authors. But for most writers, especially midlist and debut writers, I believe they're better off spending their (very limited) promotional dollars elsewhere.
But what do you think? Do you like book trailers? Do you ever watch them? Have you ever bought a book based on one?