Book Trailers: The Future of Publishing?

I think book trailers are the best thing since sliced bread.  I say this as a reader, a former PR professional and an author.  If publishing companies want to stay afloat in this economy, I think they’re going to have to start investing more of their marketing budgets in high quality, professional videos.

Yes, they’re being developed for middle grade (MG) and young adult (YA) fiction, but most of them consist of still photos, a voiceover (generally an actor reading a “back cover” summary of the book), and some ominous synthesizer music in the background – kind of like jazzy powerpoint presentations.  They’re ok but in my opinion, they fall far short from what they can and must be – that is, like a movie trailer, but for books.

This is a creative – and floundering – industry.  If books are going to compete with movies and music for the public’s entertainment dollar, then we (authors, agents and publishers) have to give our audience something with a bit more gusto.

And we have to do more than upload the final product to youtube and hope that a reader will find it.

It costs money.  I know.  So why not partner with our sister industries (film and music) to develop a product beneficial to all.  On a local level, up-and-coming actors, screenwriters and musicians could work with a writer and publisher to develop a short two-minute trailer.  There may even be grant money available for this kind of project if it helps develop the local industry as a whole.  On a national and international scale, the same collaborative model could also work, perhaps with corporate sponsors to fund it.

This might seem a bit radical (crazy?) to some, but the publishing industry really needs to come up with something different to make itself relevant to a modern audience.  Today’s YA reader is tomorrow’s adult novel reader.  If the industry doesn’t find a way to capture their imaginations, then the remaining “Big 5” publishers, and all the smaller companies, will continue falling like a house of cards.

So really, what do we have to lose by trying something bold?

Here’s a book trailer that I recently came across for Crusher by Niall Leonard (published by Random House), using live action film footage.  I think it’s far more engaging than “jazzy powerpoint” trailers like the one for Legend by Marie Lu (published by Penguin), below.


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