Book Marketing & New Media: Book Trailers

16 Jan

book-trailer.jpgNo, not THAT kind of book trailer . . . what I’m referring to are video clips posted online to promote books. (This leaves me feeling somewhat sheepish after saying last week that there wasn’t anything too major about online marketing that we had missed.) There are quite a few different approaches that folks can take with these so I embedded several courtesy of YouTube below, including one for the soon-to-be released newest novel by Stephen King. (I think a book trailer is exactly what he needs to jump start his career!) Plus, you can always take a look at VidLit, which is a site that caters exclusively to book trailers.

There are several basic approaches that are being taken in the book trailers I was taking a look at today. First, the book trailer for Stephen King’s Duma Key is basically like a movie trailer (or rather, a Corona beer ad crossed with a horror film):

For a lot of non-fiction titles, though, (and I have to admit the trailer below is for the DVD How to Publish a Book; How to Get a Literary Agent instead of a book itself), you’ll get a clip of the author like Stacey Cochran below doing a reading and/or presentation:

Something I have to confess is that I’m getting to where more and more I like videos that are text/typography based instead of swirling Photoshopped graphics and the like. One of the best I saw was this one for a young adult novel Deadline by Chris Crutcher.

Another aspect of the video above—along with the book cover design—is that it’s not strictly identified as a YA novel but asks the kinds of questions and takes the kind of approach that makes it sound like a novel readers of any age might find of interest. Finally, I have one last book trailer for Career and Corporate Cool (TM) by Rachel C. Weingarten:

According to her Web site, Ms. Weingarten is a “style & marketing maven” and that comes across in the presentation of this video.

In the end, I came up with a few basic conclusions about book trailers. First, keep them short and to the point. Second, have a style/approach that fits your subject and/or brand. If you’re presenting nuts and bolts information, then Stacey Cochran has an effective approach. But, if you’re a promoting a certain look/style, Rachel Weingarten’s approach works well. And, for fiction, I the trailers for both Stephen King and Chris Crutcher present their books in way that make potential readers want to find out even more about them. Things to avoid would be PowerPoint presentations just converted to video files—I saw a lot of those—or just point a camera at someone who is talking like they’re trapped in a late-night infomercial.

I’d be curious to know what anybody else has to think about book trailers. Pro? Con? And if any of the authors above come across this post, I’d be happy to hear what they had to say about the development of their trailers as well as what they think the ultimate bottom-line impact has been. Stephen? Stacey? Chris? Rachel? Thoughts?


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9 Responses to “Book Marketing & New Media: Book Trailers”

  1. Stacey Cochran January 16, 2008 at 1:34 pm #

    Thanks, Mark, for linking to my DVD trailer, and thanks for contacting me regarding my thoughts on book trailers in general. I think trailers are very effective in giving a potential audience a better idea of what the book or product is about.

    In my case, I have a DVD titled “How to Publish a Book, How to Get a Literary Agent” and the DVD is comprised of a popular seminar I did last year at Borders Bookstores. The trailer includes about 3 choices pieces from the 60-minute presentation, combined with text and music to create a tone appropriate for the content.

    Like you said, it’s a very “nuts and bolts” product, and the trailer reflects that.

    I used iMovie on an Apple Powerbook to create the trailer, and the presentation was recorded with a Samson Studio Condenser Mic recording with Audacity on a laptop. The video was captured on a Sony mini-DV camcorder.

    If you have any other questions, feel free to ask.

    You might check out my trailer for my novel THE COLORADO SEQUENCE for comparison:

  2. Rachel Weingarten January 17, 2008 at 10:07 am #

    Hey Mark,

    Thanks for linking to my trailer as well- much appreciated. As mentioned the book trailer is for my book Career and Corporate Cool(TM) and the idea was to translate the fun stylish aspects of the book to the web and trailer form- and I think we were successful on both counts. The book is about business and style which are rarely combined and can come across as stilted or stuffy or trying too hard, so the trailer had to be fun while making one main point- stand out from the crowd.

    For the record, there were three trailers taking different approaches, one tracked women in business throughout history and the other focused on one chapter in particular Chapter 10/beauty – you can watch all three here

    I think book trailers like much that has been developed in promotional tools and web 2.0 can be another fun way to engage and interact with your audience, that said- they can also be a way to turn off potential readers if your trailer is over-long, over-preachy or just plain boring. Most of all they can increase your visibility even with non-readers, so it’s usually a win/win thing.

    Have I answered any of your questions?
    Thanks again,

  3. Rachel Weingarten January 17, 2008 at 10:08 am #

    and of course I forgot to include the other link – here you go

  4. Nichola D. January 17, 2008 at 10:33 am #

    I’d never heard of book trailers before but I like them. Although not a fan of Stephen King I liked that one and do like the Rachel Weingarten one. Thanks. Nichola

  5. Ron Sanders January 21, 2008 at 5:16 pm #

    Great post and great comments. I had never heard of book trailers either and your picture had me worried. One aspect of the trailers above that I found interesting was the importance of music in all of them. It would help to have either a library of royalty-free music or a friend with MIDI expertise to make a good one (or a lot of money and a publisher with deep pockets like Mr. King).

  6. Madam Mayo January 25, 2008 at 12:05 pm #

    Glad to have found your blog— very interesting post, thanks. My own sense is that movie-style “trailers” for books — I mean, just ads without much meat to them— are going to be way passe, asap. With literary video, vid-lit, whatever you want to call it, I think we’re going to be seeing something much more of an art-form, much more interesting than that. The competition for surfers’s attention will demand it.

  7. Sheila January 26, 2008 at 6:41 pm #

    VidLit, which I love, actually does music videos as well.
    Circle of Seven Productions started the book trailer market in 2002. At that time if you Googled the term “book trailer” you got zero results back. So, COS trademarked the term, under a very specific definition. And in 2002 we created Dark Symphony, a book by best selling author Christine Feehan.
    In 2003 Borders Group began using COS book video, and now BNN, Powells and other booksellers use them. As content. No co-op.
    You can check out the COS YouTube site at, or check out our newest endeavor which is about to have a major overhaul to the site, but it’s still fun.
    Just having the book video is not enough. Distribution, utilization and effectiveness are what’s important in 2008.
    I’m about to release an eBook that specifically discusses the performance, distribution, utilization and effectiveness of book trailers. It’s free. You can go to and sign up for the newsletter if you’d like a copy.
    We have made nearly 300 video since 2002. All of them for books, booksellers or that are book related. Our trailers play on television and in movie theaters. Our next venue is out-of-home advertising (mobile phones, digital billboards, mall smart screens, etc.)
    We do have video analytics that can track the success of our videos. We also have a team of readers and book reviews who beta test our videos as a part of our quality improvement commitment.
    This is a great blog! So happy I stumbled across it!


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