The Trouble With Trailers

This post, by Peg Brantley, originally appeared on the Crime Fiction Collective site and is reprinted here in its entirety with that site’s permission.

Do book trailers really do what they’re intended to do, or are they more of an ego trip for the author?

This post originally appeared on my personal blog, Suspense Novelist, but I still feel pretty much the same way.

Book Trailers

What makes a successful book trailer?

I’m beginning to believe that just as one person loves a book while someone else puts it in their DNF (Did Not Finish) pile, it’s pretty much the same with book trailers.

With all of the creativity, time—and often expense—that goes into the creation of trailers, the bottom line has to be sales. Does the book trailer make you want to go out and buy the book? Or, at the very least, check into it a little more?
Here are some things I like:

  • Short. Maybe as long as 2 minutes, but 1 minute or less is best. Sort of like a visual Twitter program.
  • Endorsements. If you’ve got some name-candy to throw around, throw it around early in the trailer. I’m shallow enough to pay more attention to something endorsed by Dean Koontz than well . . . Peg Brantley, or no one at all.
  • Live action. Unless your still photos are super spooky and filled with tension, I’d much rather see living beings in action. I don’t need to see their faces, but I want a sense of real people, not photos or statues or drawings. Even with historicals.
  • Set the mood. If the trailer is for a cozy, it shouldn’t be dark and evil. Music is huge, but so is color choice and pacing.

These are my personal preferences, and I’m curious . . . do you have any? Are there book trailers you love? Some you hate?

Have you ever bought a book because of its trailer?

By Peg Brantley, Writer at Work, Stumbling Toward Publication