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Are Book Trailers a Marketing Must-Have?

by | Nov 5, 2015

Congratulations! You’ve written your book. You’re ready for its big debut.

But with an increasing number of books published each year, combined with declining sales, it’s more important than ever to make sure your book stands out.

One way to do this is through a book trailer: a short video introduction to a book. Book trailers come in many different forms: You could feature a scene from the book, show a clip of yourself speaking about your novel, or present a slide show relevant images and animated text.

And since selling books in the digital age is all about getting exposure, a book trailer might seem like a natural marketing tactic.

But is a book trailer truly the way to go? Here’s what you need to know about book trailers before you make a decision.

Three reasons to make a book trailer

Excited to show off your new book? Here’s why a book trailer might be a good choice for you.

Book trailers can make a lasting impression

A trailer offers a greater sensory experience than a typical print ad or online feature to communicate your book’s purpose.

Since book trailers are still pretty new and not every book has one, your book has the chance to make a much stronger impression on a potential reader.

They’re easy to consume and easy to share

Let’s face it: Fewer people are browsing through bookstores and perusing book reviews in the newspaper.

In an age of information overload, book trailers offer a low barrier to entry to consume. t’s easy to sit back and watch a one-minute clip, especially if it’s one you stumble upon in your Facebook newsfeed or YouTube suggestions.

Viewers recognize video as entertainment, so while a book trailer might be one of your more labor-intensive pieces of your marketing material, it is one of the most shareable, with potential to go viral.

Book trailers are eternal

While the financial investment in a book trailer might not pay off right away, it may over time. One of the greatest strengths of video marketing is that it’s eternal.

Other book marketing efforts, like ads or launch parties, have temporary reach, but a book trailer will live on as long as it remains online. Over time, it can continue to introduce new potential readers to your work.

Four reasons to skip it

Not convinced it’s worth making a book trailer? These reasons might confirm your skepticism.

Book trailers are held to a high standard of quality

Anyone who comes across your trailer will expect a high-quality cinematic experience. Book trailers get compared to and essentially compete with movie trailers, according to an episode of Thomas Umstattd’s podcast, Novel Marketing. We’re used to the quality of high-budget movie trailers with superior editing, emotion-grabbing audio and exciting visual effects.

But “a bad trailer is worse than no trailer,” Umstattd warned. A poorly made book trailer sticks out. It can damage the image of both you and the book, and it can hurt sales.

Because they’re so memorable, book trailers that miss the mark can turn into painfully public marketing failures.

Book trailers are not a universally accepted book-marketing tactic

Many authors, publishers and readers are wary of the emergence of book trailers, because they intrude on the reading experience.

It’s like seeing the movie before reading the book: The book no longer has the privilege of introducing readers to its world. The trailer can take away from the world the reader imagined.

A good book trailer involves a huge investment of time, money, and skill

A 45-second book trailer may sound simple to produce, but remember video is an entirely different medium than print — it requires a tailored perspective and set of skills.

Think about everything needed to make a quality trailer: storyboard, script, scenery, music, props, actors and crew, camera and other film-making technology, editing expertise and more.

While there are some great ways to make a low-cost book trailer on your own, an exceptional trailer can end up costing thousands of dollars.

It’s hard to determine ROI

Book trailers are notorious for getting few lifetime views and unimpressive conversion rates. Only 0.2 percent of people surveyed by the Codex Group in 2010 said they found their most recent book from a trailer, and 0.1 percent identified the book trailer as the persuading factor to purchase it.

Buta great video on a sales landing page can increase conversions up to 80 percent, Unbounce reported in a recent podcast on video marketing.

These statistics highlight a major risk of producing a book trailer: What if you make one, but your target audience never sees it? A video may get a lot of views, but not all viewers are potential readers.

More promising prospective buyers find their way to sales pages, and that might be where a book trailer best contributes to sales.

A book trailer has the potential to be an incredibly successful and valuable addition to your marketing campaign — or it could be a total disaster. It’s a risky marketing strategy, and a good decision depends on a strong cost-benefit analysis well before your book’s launch date.

Does your book have a trailer? How has it contributed to your sales?