Saturday, July 9, 2011

When Book Trailers Don't Work (for Me)

So a while back, there was a discussion as to why bloggers don't post book trailers in their reviews.  I have several responses to this and would like to hear what you guys also have to say.

1. Sometimes it takes the publisher too long to post a book trailer.

If you're going to make a book trailer, it has to be worth it... and how can it be worth it if it comes out like a week before the book's release?  That may work as "teasers" for really popular books but certainly not for all.  And even with the popular books, where are the trailers?!  Take Supernaturally by Kiersten White and Wolfsbane by Andrea Cremer as examples.  Both are by authors I love and are sequels to NYT Bestselling books... and yet no trailers.  Andrea Cremer introduces Wolfsbane here and Kiersten White has taken over the HarperTeen Youtube channel Q&A wise, but neither of these books have trailers even though both Paranormalcy and Nightshade had trailers.  I don't know if that means the publishers aren't going to make one or if they just haven't posted them yet, but if publishers wanted bloggers to use the book trailers, then they have to also be consistent and get them done early.

My Suggestions for Improvement:
A. Release the book cover/summary at the same time as the book trailer.  Granted, this means that publishers have to get things out quicker, but I hope this happens one day.  The cover has the visual aspect down.  Not impressed by that? You'd look down at the summary, the written aspect.  Still not quite convinced?  Look at the trailer, the combo of visual and written.  And what could be more powerful than having all three together?

B. Get Goodreads to start posting links to the book trailers up by the summaries.  I think I have seen a few videos before on a book's page, but it's not like Amazon where you have to scroll down past the video section to find the summary.  There the videos are prominent and accessible.  But to me having a book trailer posted on Amazon is less worthwhile than Goodreads; when you're looking at a book on Amazon, you're that much closer to buying the book already, which also means that something else likely prompted you to that decision whereas on Goodreads, you're there to find out more information about the book and author and whatnot.... so having a book trailer there makes it accessible to all and not just posted on the author's website where only the most devoted fans will see it.  (Another giant problem).

2. Book Trailers don't capture the feel of the book correctly.

In my honest opinion... there are few successful book trailers.  This happens for a variety of reasons such as:

A. When the Voice-over has the wrong "feel" to it:

Oh man.  If you have read Where She Went by Gayle Forman, I think you'll agree with me.  This guy... does not sound like Adam.  Adam is angsty and angry and sad and so full of emotion and this actor?  Nothing!  He sounds so bland.  It ruins the video for me and really doesn't capture the theme of the novel (which sucks because everything else is well done).

In my opinion, most book trailers would probably be best without voice-overs.  One of the things that I have to commend Stephenie Meyer for was not describing what Bella looked like; that made it easier for other girls to slip into Bella's place.  Same theme here.  Having a voice-over is sort of jarring and reminds me at least that I'm not the one experiencing this, that I'm not actually there.

B. When the Music Doesn't Fit the Novel:

Okay, so in place of a voice-over, some book trailers have music playing during the video, and sometimes the music doesn't fit the theme of the novel.  Take this book trailer for Darkness Becomes Her by Kelly Keaton. This book has Gothic themes.  Why on earth is that music playing?  It undermines some of the novel's power.


Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake.  This is a horror book but with light, almost comical music that contrasts the summary so well that it works for me.

C. When Book Trailers Fail to Tell You Anything about the Novel:

This comes in many forms.  There are some trailers out there that are basically just an exploration of the book's cover... and the one I have to show you is a very short scene made as a trailer for The Dark and Hollow Places by Carrie Ryan.  First off... what?!  That was so creepy and definitely made me recoil from my computer rather than check out Goodreads or Amazon for the book.  Secondly... what does it even tell you about the book?  Okay, the protag is going to have a creepy encounter with an old lady... and will then run away with a man.  Clearly that's not what this book is about.  Thirdly... if you're going to use a scene for the trailer, why not actually develop it?  Or develop it enough that we're not left confused but instead left with questions that we want answered?  Ten seconds is hardly enough time to do that.

D. Random WTF Moments

I saw this book trailer for Dark Eden by Patrick Carman the other day and was almost impressed.... until the end.  If the author didn't do that creepy eyebrow lift/that wasn't included in the video, I might have actually bought the book because it seemed intriguing... But that little moment froze me from my impulse.

After complaining about trailers, let me show you some that I think were actually done well.

1. Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi

This is actually only a teaser trailer and not the full book trailer but I love it.  Even if it's not action heavy, there's something so powerful in the words they chose to put to screen and the way some of them are crossed off really show the protag battling with her emotions.  Plus, it also tells you that it has a paranormal bent with its not human thing.

2. Cryer's Cross by Lisa McMann

So I hadn't read the summary in full when I watched the trailer.  Now the book is in my Amazon cart.  Why?  This video has such a creepy feel to it but one that makes me think about the town's secrets and the sort of things the protag will discover.  (I could've done without the 'help me' whisper at the end, but that wasn't too bad).  I'm a sucker for these kind of thrillers, and this video is an example of one that nails them.

3. The Liar Society by Lisa & Laura Roecker

Again, I hadn't read the summary before I saw this trailer... but I love the mysterious aspect to it.  I love the typewriter being the overlying music.  I love that it tells me everything I need to know.  The inherent danger, the dead best friend, the love triangle, etc.  Incredibly well done.

4. Starcrossed by Josie Angelini

Clearly if this wasn't a good book trailer, it wouldn't have gotten 27,000 hits in one day.

I would love to see what you guys think.  Have you ever bought a book because of its trailer?  Do you include trailers in your reviews?  Would you like to see them closer to the release date or released earlier with the covers?  Do you have suggestions for publishers regarding trailers?  

I'd love to see some other successful ones.  I'm currently subscribed to the HarperTeen, Simonschustervideos, and PenguinTeen Youtube channels, and honestly?  Haven't seen all that many memorable ones.  Recently, that is.  I only took a look at their recent uploads.

Also... the trailers are by no means reflections of the authors.  Just wanted to say that.


  1. Ahh, this is very frustrating. I wrote a long comment in response and then Blogger decided to eat it. I'll recreate it to the best of my abilities.

    I agree with many of the points you made. Personally, I don't pay a great deal of attention to book trailers, and this is primarily because of timing. I don't have a lot of time to devote to catching up on book news and I follow many feeds, so if I've already read the summary or seen the cover of a certain book, I'm probably not going to pay much attention to the trailer as I skim through Google Reader. However, if the trailer were to come at the same time or even prior to the summary, I would most likely take a look.

    Like you, I dislike it when trailers come with voice-overs. It's difficult to capture a particular character's voice perfectly, and an inadequate voice can color how I "hear" narration. Even having actors for the characters can bother me because just like how I prefer to read the book before the movie, I want to be able to picture the characters as they will appear in my mind, not what I see in a video. In my opinion, trailers with simple and powerful imagery coupled with key sentences (much like the trailer for "Shatter Me") can be most effective.

    Izzy @ My Words Ate Me

  2. i don't pay attention to book trailers because I don't like most of them. my favourite so far are starcrossd and wither.

  3. I usually see trailers AFTER I've read the books! And those get posted up with my reviews for other people to see while they're deciding whether to read or not ;) I'd like to see all trailers be released before or a little after the book does. What's the point if the book's been on sale for months now? The hype's gone!

    I could really care less what is in book trailers since they don't affect my decisions on reading. But I guess the big thing would be to get the write voiceovers and/or actors. Sometimes it's like they just pick these people off the road because they don't suit the book at all!

    Great post. Enjoyed watching those bottom trailers ;)

  4. @ Izzy, I'm sorry Blogger isn't being nice :(. I also tried following the link to your blog, but it says that I haven't been invited so I can't.

    Your point about character voices and reading about the characters first is also really good. The only other time I'd hear a narrator first before reading the book is when I find out about a book via its movie adaptation and even then, when I go back and read the book, I hear my own perception of the character and not the actor/actress.

    @ Lisa, true about book trailers not really affecting my reading. Well, at least at this point. If publishers fixed the fact that we see them so much later, then maybe that'd change.


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