This item in GalleyCat reminded me that book trailers even exist and that they don’t work. Have a little faith that readers are intelligent enough to tell the difference between stock video footage and a description of a book. I know that GalleyCat’s article is about how book trailers DO work, but I will argue that the two videos mentioned are not actually book trailers.
The lion video is amazing and (I will admit this only to my blog readers) brings a small tear to my eye. The book, A Lion Called Christian, came out in 1972. The YouTube video was posted in 2006. This is a perfect example of viral marketing at its uncontrollable finest. Marketers are hard-pressed to artificially generate interest for their products like this. Why? Because consumers are at a point where they want to control and interact with content instead of ingesting what is put in front of them. They take pride in discovering obscure videos on YouTube, then discovering long lost books that correspond to these videos (or pick your own example). Creating something obscure then making people discover it is a tough thing to do.
As for the other video mentioned, I will admit that this is the kind of cool, supplemental media that should surround a book (kind of like giving away free sample chapters or even free books), but I would not categorize it as a book trailer. The video gives people a better sense for the author and wins readers based on the content. There is nothing flashy about an author reading an essay out loud, but if the quality of the content strikes a chord with readers, that works.
On another topic, GalleyCat’s opening line to this article reminds me of another pet peeve of mine about the publishing industry:
“…nobody really knows if ‘book trailers’ actually motivate readers to go out and buy books…”
Nobody knows? Why is that? No, don’t answer that question because it was rhetorical. Instead I am going to tell you why. Many publishers apparently put more faith in their innate ability to artistically glean which books will be successful than they do in market research. Of course market research is less glamorous and scholarly than artistic gleaning, but it has the distinct advantage of giving businesses an idea of what their customers think and how they will spend money. If you are a publisher who is willing to spend money on book trailers, you should also be willing to spend money on market research.