Chip MacGregor

June 21, 2012

Thursdays with Amanda: Author Book Trailers (a continuation)


Amanda Luedeke Literary AgentAmanda 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.

After the last blog post on using video as an author, I received some questions from a reader. Figured it would be more helpful to answer them on the blog than through email. (If you have a question on any of the platform topics we’ve discussed, feel free to email me.)

In your opinion, are book trailers effective? Like any online marketing tool, book trailers are as effective as you want them to be. Left to their own devices, they won’t receive many views (unless they become viral hits). But paired with an aggressive promotional plan, they can reach new readers in ways that blog posts, Tweets, and message board threads cannot.

I’ve encouraged a few of my authors to not think of their book trailer as a sales tool…but instead as a method of generating buzz and discussion around their book.

Book trailers can be expensive, with rates starting at around $500. Should we plan on that as a necessary expense? No, they aren’t necessary. No one is going to make you have a trailer (unless you promised in your proposal that you’d have one). If a publishing house really wants one, they may even put it together for you. A good rule of thumb is to think of your readership. If you write fiction for young adults, then yes, a book trailer may be a worthwhile investment. If you write historical romance, then not so much. Think about your audience before taking the book trailer plunge.

I’ve never looked at one to see if I want to buy a book.  Are they put in your website, on Amazon page for your book?  Or are they simply on YouTube and you put a link to it on your emails and marketing materials? The videos live on YouTube or Vimeo or a similar video uploading/sharing site that is easy to access. You then link to them or embed them on your site, blog posts, comments, Amazon pages, Goodreads page, etc. Of course you could and should get more creative than that…people won’t watch a video they don’t know exists. Point them to it, though, and they’ll watch.

One method that I have yet to see a YA author do effectively, is targeting churches, schools, extracurricular clubs and the like with your video. For example, if you write Christian young adult fiction…can you imagine the potential awesomeness if you sent your trailer out to 100 youth pastors and asked them to show it during youth group? That’s the type of “stand in front of your audience” promotion that could work.

Any thoughts on book trailers? Too scary to tackle? Too expensive? Too hard to do right?



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  • Denise Grover Swank says:

    Most book trailers tend to be slide shows with music.I made my own first two book trailers and that’s exactly what they are. I realized quickly that those book trailers didn’t sell any books for me, but they may have peaked some interest. Slight interest. 

    I have a new book being released on Friday and I found an author, Jeff Somers, who makes book trailers. He’s made his own and the trailers for two mutual friends. What I love about Jeff’s trailers is that they often incorporate voice overs and video. So the viewer isn’t watching a slide show. It’s remarkably similar to watching a movie trailer. Jeff is very reasonable too. My own trailer cost $100. I would have spent nearly that much in stock photos and donations to use royalty free music. If you want to find out more about Jeff, see his trailers and his philosophy on making them, you can read more here:

  • Paula says:

    Such good suggestions Amanda (as usual)!! I like that book trailers don’t have to be super-expensive (and they’re fun to make too, if you like writing scripts and working w/actors!) because most of us have at least one creative-type friend who dabbles in photography or videography. Lots of times friends (who are into videography &/or acting) will work with us writers on a book trailer project for little to no cost because it gives them experience in their craft as well as something for their portfolio/video reel. This has been my experience so far…even so, to be honest I don’t think my trailer is generating very many sales. Perhaps interest yes, but sales no. {So, if anyone wants to give me a suggestion about what they think about my current trailer, pls feel free to let me know and I’ll take your advice in writing the script and what not for the next trailer! Here it is:}

    Thanks : )  And thanks Amanda, as always for the great suggestions!

    • Amanda Luedeke says:

       Wow, I really love your trailer. The few things that stood out to me as areas that could be tweaked is the fact that it’s not clear what genre this is or who the audience should be. Also, your big hook “a rain storm woke me up and now I can’t go to sleep” doesn’t come to the end. Most viewers miss this because they aren’t going to watch the whole thing. Make sure your hook is at the beginning next time and make sure it’s clear what type of reader would be interested in this book. Other than that, your trailer’s effectiveness is purely dependent upon how well you’re able to spread the word about it and get people to watch.

      Again, very well done. Quality work.

    • Paula says:

       Thanks so much Amanda!!  I hadn’t even thought about putting the hook in the beginning, but that makes a lot of sense, and the genre, can’t believe I didn’t think of that! Thanks again!! Now I know what to do next time : )

  • Bethany Jett says:

    Love the idea about promoting it to churches. 

  • Niniehammon says:

    A good book trailer can be very effective with the visual generation. All my books have trailers and when I went to speak at a church event and mentioned the trailers, I saw the younger people in the audience immediately pull them up on their IPhones. Of course, I don’t know if they generated any sales, but I do think they helped plant my name in some readers’ minds.

    • Amanda Luedeke says:

       A good lesson for if you write YA and are ever in front of kids…have them pull out their phones and follow/like/etc you right then and there 🙂

  • Clay Morgan says:

    While I agree with Kathryn that a lot of book trailers are flat, I still am a believer in them. Done well, a trailer can excite me enough to buy a book. Also, I might click on a video when I wouldn’t read an article about someone I’ve never heard of or a book I didn’t know existed. I want to have some video everywhere I am (Amazon, Goodreads, etc…) because that’s how the world thinks more than ever. And if I just really like an author like Matt Mikalatos and want more from him, the videos give me a chance to deepen my connection. 

    And I agree about the idea of approaching youth pastors to show that thing. My mind is bursting with possibilities. Good stuff Amanda.

  • Kathryn J. Bain says:

    I dislike most book trailers. The only book trailers I’ve ever seen that I’ve enjoyed even a bit were by big name authors and a lot of money went into them. They were like mini-movies.

    Unfortunately most trailers look and sound alike. The music for all suspense is similar, same with romance. They use pictures with words inprinted on them. BORING!

    And don’t get me started on the length of some of these things. Anything over 60 seconds is too long.

    I’m about to have my third book released, and I have yet to do a trailer. Unless I can do something that I feel is good and original, I will not waste my time or anyone elses.

    • Amanda Luedeke says:

      I think this mindset goes beyond trailers…there are authors who settle for bad book covers, bad websites, and more. Not sure why this is, but it’s a huge issue. Did you see Denise’s and Paula’s trailers above? Paula’s is much more complex, but I think both trailers work. (And Denise’s was only $100!)

    • Kathryn J. Bain says:

      Yes I did look at theirs. And they remind me of all the other ones out there. Nothing unique and different. Neither grabbed me enough to read their book. And the acting was so-so. A major problem I find w/book trailers.

      The following is a simple book trailer that makes me want to read the book. It also doesn’t look like it cost a lot, but it hooked me. It’s for the book “The Twelve” by Justin Cronin. Granted it’s not Christian, but there’s no reason an inspirational writer cannot do one as well, if not better:

    • Paula says:

      I just watched the trailer that you mentioned and I totally get where you’re coming from- there’s an intense creativity behind it! Even so, the trailer still doesn’t inspire me to purchase the book, so I guess it’s all about personal taste : )

    • Kathryn J. Bain says:

      I agree. And since I’m a suspense and mystery fan, I would prefer something more suspenseful. Good thing there are so many books of different genres out there.

  • Ruth A. Douthitt says:

    Good tip about contacting churches and youth pastors! I am not a big fan of book trailers. I have watched a few but never bought a book as a result of a trailer.

    However, kids today are more visual than past generations. They make their own movei trailers and post them on YouTube all the time (my son did this from age 10-13 before Universal Studios sent us an email request telling us to STOP using their footage. That was fun.).

    So, the middle grade/YA author might want to look into investing in a quality trailer.

    Sending it out to churches is a great idea!

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