I decided against making a book trailer for The Telling. Sort of.
Not so for The Resurrection. It was my first published novel and I almost felt obligated to go all in. Which I did. But rather than assemble my own video, a common practice for many authors, I really wanted to put my best foot forward and decided to hire an indie filmmaker. Brian Thomas Barnhart was a member of our church. I laid out my vision for the project, we discussed details, and set a price. (You can see some stills from the video shoot for The Resurrection trailer as well as the finished product HERE.) After paying Brian, purchasing a soundtrack and some stock photography, the total spent was about 500 bucks. That was a year ago. So was it worth it?
That’s the question I asked myself when it came time to decide on a possible trailer for my second novel.
The Resurrection has almost 550 views on YouTube and on Vimeo, 261. So the trailer has been viewed about 800 times in one year. That’s okay, I guess. But how do I determine whether someone bought the book as a result of the trailer? Perhaps that’s the wrong question. Did the trailer make any difference at all? Would I have sold less books without that $500 investment? Honestly, I doubt it.
I’ve seen some pretty cheesy trailers by authors, even big name authors. So, apparently, a great trailer is not a necessity for sales. Most range in quality from a couple of stills set to music or some cartwheeling slides, to a full production with actors and licensed music. Occasionally, some of the bigger publishing houses will spring for trailers for an established author or a promising newbie (as Tyndale did for writer friend Gina Holmes).
Nevertheless, the more I thought about it, the more I considered doing something different for The Telling… if I did anything at all. Mind you, I was really pleased with the end product for The Resurrection. But the more I listened to opinions, the less I was sold on the importance of a trailer.
Sure, a book trailer adds an audio-visual layer to your story. You can create a vibe to your novel that communicates its mood — fast-paced, frenetic music, swooning violins, or creepy chimes. However, it seems you can only build on excitement that already exists. If readers are already interested in you and your books, a trailer might stoke that. For this reason, I’ve come to believe that the blurb for your book is far more important than a trailer. If the reader is intrigued by the plot, they may watch the trailer. If they’re not grabbed by the blurb, chances are slim that a trailer will convince them.
Which is why I decided to mix it up and concentrate on discussing the plot for my next novel rather than taking time on a traditional book trailer. It’s a little longer than your normal trailer, running just under four minutes. But it’s kind of laid back, I think. You’re not subjected to a barrage of sights or sounds. Yes, there’s some visual elements with a few stock photos. But the process was SO much easier and less expensive than my first go-round. My daughter Alayna did a wonderful job putting this together (you can see more of Alayna’s work at her website, Light Frame Photo). And did I mention how less stressful and expensive this trailer was than my first?
But as to its effectiveness, the jury’s out. Currently, it’s received a modest 116 YouTube views. I’ll probably embed the video in my sidebar for a while as the novel launches, but until someone can establish that book trailers really matter, I’ll remain skeptical.
Anyway, I’d love to know your thoughts about the effectiveness — or ineffectiveness — of the trailer for The Telling. And, overall, how important do you think trailers are for an author?