Why make a book trailer?


As promised, here’s a quick note about why I made the trailer, (Vimeo | YouTube) then I’ll let it lie for a bit. But first!

A big “thank you” to everyone who helped spread the word about the 99 cent promo price for Child of Fire. Yesterday was pretty great, and the book climbed to #159 on the Paid Kindle list, was #16 in Fantasy overall and made it to #3 in Contemporary Fantasy. In fact, it’s still #3 as I write this even as the main Kindle List sales ranking has slipped back. Now it’s up to word of mouth and momentum.

Anyway, I’m tremendously grateful, to the point that I’m a little befuddled by it all. It’s always difficult for me to ask favors, and now I find myself full of gratitude, and… that’s difficult. I don’t want to gush. I don’t want to be standoffish or brusque. Maybe if I’d been more in the habit of asking favors I’d have worked this out by now.

Trailer! Here’s the thing: Trailers are terrible for promoting books. Seriously, I have never bought a book because of a trailer, and I’ll bet you haven’t either. So why make one? Most importantly, why spend just shy of five grand on it?

Well, it’s not for the promotion, clearly.

But what if you knew someone who was an amazing painter, and you wanted to hang their work in your home? What if your friends were accomplished musicians and you wanted to commission a song? Wouldn’t it be cool to let them run with it?

Well, my friends are filmmakers–good ones, too. Everyone who’s seen LOVECRAFT, FEAR OF THE UNKNOWN knows that. So when I got a little unexpected money (French and German foreign sales) I thought Why buy a car? This will last longer and won’t make me fat(ter).

At first I considered asking them to make a short film–pick a scene from one of the books, dramatize it, the whole deal. But when I sat down to think about it, I was paralyzed with options. Which scene would be doable? How would we deal with stunts? How do we handle exposition?

I could have done the opening to Child of Fire, but there was some stuff there that wouldn’t translate well to film. So I decided to ask them for a book trailer.

And of course I’m treating it as though it’s a book promotion; that makes it tax deductible. Still, to me, it’s about hiring my friends to make something cool for me, about them showcasing what they can do (and maybe get some work out of it), about seeing Ray and Annalise onscreen, and sharing that with all of you guys.

Because you know what? A lot about this industry is changing, and people who think they know everything about it or think they can predict what is the right /wrong move to make are kidding themselves. It seems to me that the best thing to do is whatever seems cool. That’s what I take away from the way others have found success: they had their interests and obsessions, and they didn’t “promote” so much as create stuff they thought was cool.

Okay, I think I’m done talking about the teaser trailer for a while. Back to the usual natter later.

6 thoughts on “Why make a book trailer?

  1. You’ve talked a bit about authorial discomfort with the idea of getting on Twitter to develop a “brand” and “promotion” and all that kind of crap… but really those are just words the douchebags in my profession apply to exactly what you just described: making something you think is awesome, and talking about it to other people who will probably agree.

    In turn, people naturally want to share things they think are awesome, so when they get the opportunity to say, “Seriously, you have to read this, not only is it great but it’s ONLY A DOLLAR, and also: trailer!” they will take it.

    So yeah, a social media marketroid would call that “leveraging your personal brand to promote a new product,” but you know what really happened. It’s just soulless corporate-speak invented by people who earn their living by trying to sell something that they do not personally find awesome or even interesting.

  2. To me, it’s “promotion” if it’s a careful effort to drive sales. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it’s outside my comfort zone.

    I’d much rather create something, put it somewhere semi-public and let people discover it on their own. Too bad things don’t quite work that way.

  3. While the trailer might not help the book sales much, it’ll help a lot if you ever get close to pitching it to TV. Apparently ‘sizzle’ reels are the norm nowadays.

  4. The people it will help are the filmmakers and actors, frankly. It’ll be a terrific reel for them. For me, honestly, I don’t expect much more than the pleasure of watching it.

  5. You made a trailer for the right reason–because it’s fun! Really, why do anything in this business if you aren’t having a good time?

    I made a trailer too. Not like yours, mine was just a little slide show. I don’t care if it sells books or not, it was a blast to make.

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