Book Trailers — Are they worth the effort?

This week George Ivanoff, Award Winning author of the Gamer’s Quest series (YA fiction) talks about book trailers ….

Watch out for the give-away at the end of the post.

George Ivanoff

 

There has been much debate about the relevance of book trailers. Are they a worthwhile investment of time and money for publishers and authors? Do they actually sell books? Does anyone watch them?

Well, I don’t have any definite answers for you. Sorry! But I do have a few observations based on personal experience.

I had my first trailer made for my 2009 teen novel, Gamers’ Quest. I had no idea if it would be worthwhile. And I had no budget. After an aborted attempt to make it myself (it was pretty crap), I got some help. Friend and computer animator, Henry Gibbens stepped in and produced a trailer for me, with my brother-in-law, Marc Valko, writing and performing the music. I wanted it to look a bit computer-gamey, as the novel is set within a computer game world, and I wanted music that sounded a bit like a 1980s sci-fi tv show theme. This is the result…

It has been up on YouTube since October 2009, but has had only a little over 800 views. Does that mean it’s a failure? Perhaps if I had spent lots of money on it, it might be considered a poor investment. But I didn’t. So even though it has only had a relatively small number of views (compared, for example, to Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters which has views in the hundreds of thousands), it has at least had some people watching it, and it’s not languishing at the bottom of the heap, as so many trailers are, with views not exceeding 100.

YouTube aside, it has been a very successful trailer for me in another way. As a writer of books for kids and teens, I do school visits, and the trailer has proved to be a great way to capture the interest of a young audience. Starting a school talk with a short video that has computer game-like visuals can seize the attention of the most bored and uninterested of teens. So for this reason alone, I was keen to have a trailer for the sequel, Gamers’ Challenge.

I showed this trailer to a couple of school groups last week. The reaction was fantastic! The trailer is more dynamic that the first, and the music deliberately more upbeat and techno. The feedback from the audience was very positive.

Currency did exchange hands this time around — but I already consider it money well spent, purely because it will be a useful tool in school presentations.

But what about YouTube? The trailer has been up for a little over a week and still has not broken the 100 mark. What do I do?

I’ve posted it on FaceBook and Twitter, and on my blog. But this doesn’t seem to have done a huge amount. In fact, reaction has been slower than when I posted the Gamers’ Quest trailer two years ago. You know what? I think people are gradually paying less attention to videos on FaceBook and Twitter. So much crap has been posted over the last two years, that people are more reluctant to click on a vid, and, in fact, will often bypass them without even registering what they are.

Certainly, my use of FaceBook has changed over the two years that I’ve been using it. When I first started, I used to religiously log in every morning and check my friends’ updates… and again at the end of the day. As the months rolled by, and my ‘friends’ list expanded, I started to skim rather than read. Another few months down the track I divided my friends up into groups, so that I could keep track of those who made interesting posts, while bypassing those who status updates consisted of what they had for breakfast. And still, FaceBook was eating up my time (it is, I am convinced, the Black Hole of the Internet)— time that should have been spent writing. So now, I glance at the status updates every couple of days, and look up genuine friends when I’m thinking about them and wondering what they are up to. Do I ever look at videos posted to FaceBook? Rarely!

If this is the way I use FaceBook, how can I expect to get lots of people looking at the videos that I post?

So where does that leave me and my trailer with regards to YouTube? I’m not a big-name-author with a high-profile book published by a large publisher that can afford a big-bucks trailer that is guaranteed immediate and constant attention. But I need to get people to watch my trailer… otherwise why bother having it up there?

Talking to other authors and trailer makers, I’ve discovered something. Even though a book trailer is a piece of promotion for a book, it also needs to be promoted. You need to let people know that the trailer exists… and you need to tell them repeatedly. If they see a link to it often enough, and if you tell them interesting things about it, then they are more likely to invest their time in watching it.

But I hardly have enough time to promote my book, let alone a video about my book! I hear you scream. But promoting your book trailer is simply another way of promoting your book. And believe me, after the umpteenth interview and gazillianth guest blog post, I need something a little different to say in order to interest my readers and maintain my sanity.

And so, here I am, telling you about my experiences with book trailers in the hope that you, my dear, dear, readers, will all spare a couple of minutes to go and watch my latest book trailer. And hopefully, if you actually like it, you may tell other people about it. Or, if I’m very lucky, it may inspire you to seek out and purchase a copy of my book (titled Gamers’ Challenge, just in case you’ve forgotten).

But I’m not relying solely on the readers of Ripping Ozzie Reads to boost my YouTube status. I will be writing about this trailer whenever I get the chance, to as many different outlets as possible. This article is the first of many!

Will all of this boost the trailer’s views and hence sell some more books? Time will tell! In the meantime, excuse me while I go check YouTube to see if anyone else has watched it.  ;-)

George is giving away 2 copies of Gamer’s Challenge.

Give-away Question: If you could replace the music on the Gamers’ Challenge trailer with a pop song, what would it be?

 

George Ivanoff is a Melbourne author and stay-at-home dad, best known for his Gamers series of teen novels. Gamers’ Quest won a 2010 Chronos Award and is on the reading list for both the Victorian Premier’s Reading Challenge and the NSW Premier’s Reading Challenge. Gamers’ Challenge was released this month by Ford Street Publishing.

George spends most of his time writing books for the primary school education market, and also writers a regular bookish blog, Literary Clutter for Boomerang Books online bookstore.
More information about the Gamers books is available on the official website.
More information about George and his writing is available on his website.

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9 Responses to Book Trailers — Are they worth the effort?

  1. Got to be something with a decent beat. Pokerface by Lady Gaga or Video killed the Radio star without lyrics.

  2. I wouldn’t replace the music, however “Fade to black” was playing in my head as I watched the clip so I would use that :)

  3. has this been drawn?

  4. Nigel says:

    This issue was raised on a reader’s forum I frequent last year. Some examples of book trailers were provided. The reaction was thus: 1) Most people didn’t even know book trailers existed; 2) Those that did know they existed did not seek them out; 3) Some book trailers were obviously more interesting to watch than others, but no one believed that this was likely to influence what books they ended up purchasing.

    In other words, book trailers presently seem to be a complete waste of time. It may be a case of a good idea whose time hasn’t come yet, and book trailers might come into their own in the future. But I’m not sure. The act of reading is may simply be too different from the visual medium of a trailer for such a connection to be useful.

    • Hi Nigel,

      The response I’ve seen is that young people (under 20) are inclined to respond well to book trailers.

      I love them, but then I’m a writer and we writers would all ove to see our books made into movies! LOL

      • Nigel says:

        Don’t get me wrong, a number of people liked the look of the trailers, but only as things in themselves, like a short movie. No one felt that they connected them to the book in any way, or that they were a good guide to purchasing a book. I have no idea what age the people who commented were, however.

    • That’s interesting. Nigel, your comment has triggered an idea for a post. I’ll write it up and see if I can put it up this weekend.

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