Authors post them on their websites. They upload them to Google Video and YouTube. If they’re particularly savvy, they search out display sites like Book Screening and Preview the Book. Even websites that aren’t primarily intended to showcase trailers like the Backspace homepages have a section where users can upload them.
The jury’s still out as to whether or not book trailers help sell books. But perhaps the bigger question is: Is anybody watching?
Most authors admit that the trailers on their websites aren’t attracting potential readers, since viewers land at the website because they’ve already heard of the book. And when authors post their trailers to YouTube, they know even the coolest production is likely to get lost in the sea of others. As for the display sites, aside from researching book trailers while preparing your own, when's the last time you spent ten minutes sampling book trailers? Thought so.
So the question isn’t so much “What can authors do with a book trailer?” It’s “How can authors get total strangers to view their trailer and pass the link along?"
Think about the last time someone sent you a link to a video. Then think about what made you send the link to someone else. Odds are, something in the video touched your emotions.
Maybe the video was cute, like the 8-year-old Irish girl making her prank phone calls, or maybe it was incredibly awesome and scary, like the El Caminito del Rey hiking trail in Spain. Maybe it made you laugh, like Mitchell and Webb’s agent-author parody or Dennis Cass’s how NOT to promote your book monologue.
Of course not everyone can create a work of comic genius that ends up going viral, but with so many authors using book trailers, yours needs to offer something different in order to stand out.
Instead of settling for three or four minutes of slowly panning still shots, and fade-in, fade-out text tedious enough for a six-year-old to read, try stretching your imagination.
For example, there are dozens of video sharing websites where users post how-to videos. If you've written a book on dog training, the potential of such sites will be obvious. But who's to say a novelist with a book that features a dog can't do the same? There are video sharing websites that focus on sports videos, or funny mishap videos. Zero in on the most interesting aspect of your novel, and get creative.
Alternatively, you might use your trailer in new and interesting ways. The trailer for my science thriller FREEZING POINT is a compilation of purchased video clips with voiceover, with five still shots at the end of my family posing as dead bodies.
My just-launched “Star in My Book Video” contest invites folks to take similar pictures (nothing gory or gruesome), which I post to the contest website. A week before the book launch, people will vote their favorites, and my webperson will change out the shots.
Because participants are invested in the outcome, they're posting about the contest on their blogs, and passing the link on. The contest generates interest outside my target audience (teenagers LOVE the contest parameters, I've discovered, and why not? I liked to read Michael Crichton and similar adult thrillers too, when I was a teen). And five winners get a signed copy of my novel, a bottle of genuine iceberg water, and two seconds of fame when the version starring them is unveiled at my October 1 online book launch party.
What interesting and inventive things have you done with YOUR book trailer?