Thursday, January 01, 2009

I am a book trailer skeptic...

Book trailers are those short online videos that promote books. Frankly most of the leave me with a lower opinion of the book than I came in with. But perhaps I am being unfair. I saw a thread at where people posted their book trailers, so I thought I would take a look. Overall what I saw did not change my mind a lot. But, well, maybe a little bit. Here are my top picks:

#1 and by far the most interesting was the trailer for The Anti-Resume Revolution. This is a genuine short video that doesn't promote the book, but show the process by which the book was conceived and produced. My main problem with most of the other trailers is that they generally completely failed to communicate to me what type of book they were advertising and where I could buy it. I mean I can glance at the cover of most commercial paperbacks and have some idea what I am getting--one or two minutes of audio and video should be plenty to communicate at least that much!

At #2 is an exception: Dawson Vosberg's very short trailers for Double Life and Terminal Velocity. Although the expanding font is over-used, these trailers show me the premise and style of the book very efficiently, and I can see them hooking in a target reader.

Many of the other books are on special topics. This trailer might help you decide whether the Millwater Press Dictionary of Farrier Terms is the Dictionary of Farrier Terms for you. So this trailer gets #3 by default. If you don't want a dictionary of farrier terms... well, you don't. Outsourcing by Rentacoder may be in a similar category but the music was tacky and annoying, as were all the capital letters.

The other trailers struck me (and yes, this is a personal opinion) as boring, ambiguous, confusing and a total mess. The trailer for the Antellus books has classy, if slightly over-dramatic, music and all the necessary information. But the quality of the cover art is variable and the whole thing doesn't seem very professional to me. I was curious enough to check out the website, so I guess it was neither good not bad overall.

I still think these trailers did nothing to interest me in buying the books, but maybe these are just not books I would have bought anyway. So I guess I remain a skeptic. But I think that even the most enthusiastic self-promoter should consider: a book trailer can make you book look better--or make it look worse. Sometimes bad publicity really is bad. If you have a totally hawht trailer that you think will change my mind, please post a link in the comment section and I will take a look.

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