Amanda Luedeke

February 6, 2014

Thursdays with Amanda: Divergent vs Miss Peregrine – Book Trailer Edition


Amanda Luedeke is a literary agent with MacGregor Literary. Every Thursday, she posts about growing your author platform. You can follow her on Twitter @amandaluedeke or join her Facebook group to stay current with her wheelings and dealings as an agent. Her author marketing book, The Extroverted Writer, is available from Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Last week, I showed you a bunch of viral videos, and we talked about how most book trailers don’t deliver on a great experience, and then they fail to become even remotely close to viral.

But let’s really dig in here. Let’s really take a look at book trailers and what works and what doesn’t.

DIVERGENT by Veronica Roth was one of the most-read series of the past few years. It’s a dystopian YA story that followed on THE HUNGER GAMES’s coattails (though maybe unintentionally) and now has movies and merch and all that good stuff.

But despite being a smash hit, its book trailer looks like most book trailers. It’s flat. Simple. It does the job, but it doesn’t do the one thing that all viral videos do…it doesn’t cause you to want to talk about it or share it with anyone. Here it is:

On the flip side, we have MISS PEREGRINE’S HOME FOR PECULIAR CHILDREN by Ransom Riggs. This book came from a mid-sized house (instead of the machine that is HarperCollins). It also is a middle grade/YA novel about weird things. But its trailer offers an experience that gets you, the reader, EXCITED about the book:

WOW, am I right?

So here’s how the numbers look…

DIVERGENT has sold a ton of books. Like a bazillion. On Goodreads alone it is rated almost 585,000 times. So a smash hit, for sure.

Its book trailer has been watched 215,000 times since the book released in May 2011. To me, that number is a bit dismal, considering all of the hype and fandom…AND considering the book is written to teens, an audience seemingly most likely to “click and watch.”

MISS PEREGRINE has sold well, but not nearly as well as Divergent. On Goodreads it has 167,800 ratings.

But get this…its book trailer has been watched 350,000 times. Nearly twice as many people have watched the trailer than have rated the book on Goodreads. I’d say that’s viral, and when you compare the Peregrine video with the Divergent video, it’s obviously the better one. It makes you want to share it. It makes you want to talk about it.

All of those shares and all of those watches may not translate into immediate sales, but they do translate into awareness. I know that I was much more aware of Miss Peregrine than I was the Divergent series. And I’ve read Miss Peregrine, while I’ve yet to read Divergent.

So that says something.

Oh, and both books released in May of 2011.

Here’s another example, and then I’ll quit…John Green’s book THE FAULT IN OUR STARS is a major best seller. Like hugely so. On Goodreads it has been rated 510,000 times. But its trailer? It’s nothing spectacular and it’s been watched 227,500 times. Which makes sense…it’s better than the Divergent trailer, but not as good as the Miss Peregrine one.

I know I was going to talk about the HOW behind a viral video, but I wanted the picture I’m painting to be very clear.

  • You don’t need a great trailer to have a best seller. DIVERGENT proves that. In fact, Divergent would probably have done just fine without a trailer at all. So the idea that trailer=great marketing plan is just false. A GREAT trailer equals a great marketing plan. A bad trailer is NOT a marketing plan.
  • If you DO happen to have a great trailer, it can really help a book gain visibility, as was proven with MISS PEREGRINE. Though the book has been outsold by Divergent time and again, its trailer did a way better job of getting the word out and creating buzz.

Okay, enough theory. Next week, I promise there will be to-dos and steps.

What are your thoughts on this? Have you ever found a great trailer and then bought the book?

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  • Angela Gardner says:

    You’re right! The trailer for Miss Peregrine was tantalizing! It helps to see examples of great book trailers. Looking forward to next week’s post, especially since it sounds like you’ll be focusing on the practical aspects of book trailers. These are things I need to know. Thanks for sharing!

  • Great post! I showed my daughter the book trailer for “Peregrine” and that’s what made her want to read it. We read Divergent and The Hunger Games because her friends were reading them, not because of a trailer. We liked “Peregrine” better, but enjoyed all. I wonder if better and more original writing gives book trailer creators more to work with. ?

    (On a side note, my own books came out back when book trailers were still pretty hokey, so I don’t have one and that’s probably best. I’d say no trailer is better than a bad one.)

  • Elizabeth Ludwig says:

    I watched the trailer for The Hunger Games (before the movies came out) and immediately went out and bought the books. LOL!

    Also, I just recently read and reviewed Miss Peregrine. I love the trailer. I think they did a great job of creating a creepy feel…but did anyone else think it kinda makes the book look like a horror movie? I thought the same thing about the back cover copy. It made me think “horror” which the book really is not.

    • Amanda Luedeke says:

      TOTALLY. I read Miss Peregrine and was really really mad. Halfway through it goes from a horror novel to a middle grade fantasy. Major disappointment. But the book’s packaging, blurbs, trailer…all communicates horror. I think the author should have stuck with that angle throughout the story.

  • Normandie Fischer says:

    Peregrine’s makes you want to pay the (big) bucks to have someone craft such a movie about your book, doesn’t it?

  • JeanneTakenaka says:

    Wow, the difference between the two trailers is so obvious. I loved the Miss Peregrine one. Story trumped intense music. The Miss Peregrine trailer created a strong mood. I’m looking forward to the post next week.

  • Jaime Wright says:

    Woah. Point made. I not only want to watch Peregrine’s book but I want to read the movie!!! Wait. Well, yeah. That’s how rattled I am. Amazing trailer. Great blog post.

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