Book Trailers. Why?

April 6, 2011 § 8 Comments

So, I’ve been quite serious lately. Very serious. I have a string of posts which are so relentlessly serious I scarcely recognise them as mine. Since it is my birthday I decided to treat myself to a post full of complete absurdity.

The chosen topic: book trailers. Wouldn’t it be amusing to poke fun at the increasing invasion of the book world by crass marketing techniques? Just imagine if people started being silly enough to create film-style trailers to go with book releases! Imagine! I thought it would be tremendous fun.

Only… it’s already happened. Not even recently, either; I gather book trailers have been lurking around for a while.

Oh, god. Say it isn’t so.

I’m a bit puzzled by this. I am a voracious reader, and I have been buying books online for years. And yet, I have never come across such a putrid abomination as a book trailer. Either they’ve been quite well-hidden up until now, or I’ve been pretty good at filtering out the things that will make me want to take out my own eyes with a spoon.

Why am I so indignant about this? Primarily because I can’t see a reason why the world needs book trailers. The reason I’ve been given is: modern readers have an attention span of about five seconds, and nobody reads anymore because we all watch TV instead. This is why a mere synopsis is not enough: there must be a super-professional, glossy trailer to persuade people to waste their time reading a book instead of watching a film.

How incredibly patronising.

Now that the book world is hurtling in the direction of the digital, it appears we are to be seeing more of these strange beasts floating around. Experts are already telling new authors that this (along with a million other things) is essential and must be done before the book is released.

Clearly, then, I am going to need a book trailer when I publish  my first novel. How can I expect anyone to read it, otherwise? Obviously my career depends upon it.


First of all, I am going to need music. Let’s take a leaf out of the film industry’s big book of super-duper film tricks and pick something exciting. Loud! Exhilarating, even! Packed with action!

Great start. Next I’m going to need some people to play my characters. These chaps and chapettes will do nicely:






Right, I’ve only got thirty seconds of screen time for this trailer, so I’d better make sure to include all the juiciest parts. You know, to make sure my readers are hooked.

That means there must be:

An action sequence! I’d love to have some guns and fine latex suits, but this is fantasy fiction so I will have to settle for rapiers, velvet coats and lace cuffs. That’ll take up about twenty of my thirty seconds.

Nudity! After all, no film book is worth watching reading without sex, right? I can probably manage to strip all my major characters at least half naked in the remaining ten seconds of the trailer.

I might even have time for one or two choice (but brief) quotes from the actual text. You know, the cute one-liners that will give the impression that it’s breezily witty and intelligent as well as graphically violent and pornographic.

There, job done. That ought to do it. My career is made.

It’s just a shame that none of this has anything at all to do with the novel I’m writing. But what does that matter, right?


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§ 8 Responses to Book Trailers. Why?

  • SandySays1 says:

    Liked your post and SOH. It sure makes one think of adding a second definition to the phrase “Trailer Trash.”

  • DarcKnyt says:

    Aren’t book trailers the LAMEST things? And yet, the gatekeepers require it. And if you don’t have one (I don’t), your book won’t sell as well (my aren’t).

    It’s pathetic and stupid. The entire idea is an oxymoron. And yet… there it is. A book trailer. That’s like saying “Giant Pygmy.”

    • Charlotte says:

      Giant Pygmy. Ha. That made me laugh.

      ‘Lame’ is definitely the word, but I suppose they must work for somebody. I seem to remember saying that about twitter-spam only a couple of days ago. All these lame marketing ploys can go in the same box labelled ‘Things I shall avoid doing even if it means lower sales’.

  • mapelba says:

    A book trailer like you’re describing is awful and ridiculous. But then film is another art form, and some book trailers are cool in and of themselves. I happen to love this one. (Hope the link works.)

    • Charlotte says:

      Ooh, nice imagery and atmosphere. That definitely has some Coolness about it. I don’t think it gave me a clear idea of what the book is about, though, nor do I think it would make me want to read it – because the two forms of media are very different from one another. It might make me interested in seeing a film version, but a film clip doesn’t really translate in my head as particularly relevant to the pages of a book. Maybe it’s a disconnect in my brain.

  • While I’m sure there are some book trailers out there that are done well and look stunning, I just don’t get it either.

    • Charlotte says:

      Glad it’s not just me. I suppose that’s my point too: I’m sure there are some great ones that are beautiful, clever and fascinating to watch, but what do they really have to do with the book they’re promoting? How exactly is it meant to influence me?

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