Book Trailers

Screen Shot 2016-01-21 at 6.51.44 PMToday, while reading my Shelf Awareness e-newsletter, a publishing industry mailer, I was reminded of a literary promotional concept that is wildly intriguing to me, and which I somehow didn’t discover until very recently: the book trailer.

I’m a marketing person by day, and I’m now in a position where I have to conceptualize and direct videos, which is a totally new channel for me. Videos are enormously popular online and are gaining momentum all the time. But I never would have considered the possibility of creating a promotional trailer, just like a movie trailer but for a book, on my own. It’s so odd! Books have no pictures or music like films do. Who says, “Go check out the video for my book on YouTube?” Lots of people, it turns out.

I saw one in the fall for the release of Kristin Hersh’s Don’t Suck, Don’t Die, a book about the musician Vic Chestnutt, and was riveted. She’s a musician first and published author second, so there is fantastic original music by her on it—a song she more than likely wrote about him, in fact—as well as tour photos of them together. I’ve had the good fortune of seeing her play in person many times, and, in recent performances, she’s interspersed her songs with readings from her books. We, the audience, sit around her sipping our beers and listening with as much focus as kindergarteners sitting Indian-style, sucking our thumbs, while riveted by our amazing teacher. So, anyway, I thought maybe this was something of an anomaly. Her book trailer is a lot like a music video, only with quotes from reviewers and a few brief synoptic notes interspersed with the photos.

Screen Shot 2016-01-21 at 6.48.50 PMBut then I watched another one that was linked to Shelf Awareness with simply this introduction: “Book Trailer of the Day: One More Day, a novel by Kelly Simmons.” Enough said. You want to click it and check it out. I did, and I love this one too, even though it’s really different, as different as, say, oh, movie trailers. Hersh’s gives a lot of information about what you’ll read along with the mood music and great pictures. Simmons’ is almost all atmosphere, mysterious to the point of total confusion and/or complete intrigue. Beautifully cinematographic color images are collaged, portraying trees, driving, family photos and lots of baked goods. (What’s that all about?) One question in white text is broken up and overlaid on several screens. Then there are the wonderful reviewers’ quotes.

I think the only thing in common is that both take the opportunity to show the viewer the book cover, which makes a lot of sense, right? As teasers go, I think these are pretty fabulous. And so different from typical print ads or book reviews. They seem genius in this time of online living and attention spans short as gnats.’ Commit just two or three minutes to a fascinating watch, and there you go.

Of course, now I just want to go check out trailers on YouTube, never mind reading the books. Just kidding! Hersh’s was really great and everyone should go buy it right now.

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