A Book Trailer! WTF?

It seems counterintuitive that a book trailer can sell books. I mean we book readers are supposed to linger over the shelves in bookshops, peruse the back cover or read the product information at online booksellers, we read the reviews, check out the starred ratings at Goodreads and Amazon, or get recommendations from friends or family. Also, isn’t the book the last frontier of the story imagined? Is this where an author’s world and characters are laid out in black and white and we let our minds construct or vision of it and not the production crew at an ad agency or PR firm or video director? Some would think so, and probably in Guttenberg’s time there were those who argued it was the teller’s province to construct imaginative world trough spoken word and performance and damn the ruining of the communal event.
But it’s a digital world and we are dominated by moving images and more importantly, driven by that type of advertising brought on by television and honed with the rise of the music video, which is just an advertisement to sell music. I get it.
As I dive into producing my own book trailer I wonder what attracts a book reader. What engages a person so that they stay with the trailer and motivates them to buy the book and not alienate them? Book readers can be a pretty savvy lot and will know when a producer is being trite, cliché, or not being “authentic.” Genre aside, some trailers I’ve seen could be for full length features movie as if instead of a few filmed scenes, they’d pulled clips from a full-length feature. Imagine the task of just writing the highlight reel as it were. Other trailers are animated shorts, some author interviews or mock interviews, some high concept, while others a little subtler like simple graphics and a great narrator’s voice.
So I as I work out my concept, I think of my stories and the range I cover. First off, because it’s a collection of short stories with a novella, I have to do something that is representative. My first thought is to do a couple of videos for different stories like musicians do for some songs on an album (CD or whatever the kids call collection of music today. An artist’s recent playlist of recordings?) to build curiosity. Then I think I might be better served by doing an over all, synopsis style trailer. The great thing, like drafting a story, is that I can write things out and run them by folks I trust, shoot some test video to see how I feel and show that to the aforementioned trusted folks who have the time to participate in me finding the way to sell books to help send my girl posse to college.
That is the end point after all. Lord knows I wouldn’t suck up all my free time like this. I can make enough beer and taco money busking on a four stringed guitar that I don’t need this heartache. At the very least I could work on a new book while playing for subsistence wages. But here I am with two dependents and a scant retirement plan, which brings me to what’s coming up in the next post… Budget or too bad it’s illegal to create my own legal tender!

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