Tracy S. Morris

Quirky Mysteries, Screwball Fantasy and Sassy History

Writerly Wednesday

Written By: Tracy - Dec• 22•09

Out of curiosity, do many of you who are reading this also watch book trailers? If so, what about the book trailer attracts you?  What makes you want to read the book?

Today my mind is on book trailers

Actually, my mind is on nonfiction writing, because I’m trying to get enough work done early this week so that I can take Thursday and Friday off for Christmas, but in between articles I am thinking of book trailers.

For those of you who don’t know, a book trailer is like a movie trailer for books.  It’s become another tool in the writer’s promotional arsenal in the past few years due to the prominence of internet websites that allow you to embed videos (Youtube, Live Journal, Facebook and Myspace).

The reason that I have book trailers on my mind these days is that I am in the process of putting one together.  Or, to be more accurate, a good friend/fan is In the process of putting together one that I’ve helped to story board out.


So what makes a good book trailer?  Mostly, it’s the same thing that makes a good move trailer or a good commercial.  It grabs the viewer’s interest and makes them want to read the book.

One of the best that I’ve seen is the trailer for Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters.

It tells us just enough about the book to let me know that

1.      It’s a Jane Austin monster mashup

2.      It has sea monsters in it.

Another good one is this one for Stephen King’s Duma Key.

This one is also good because it tells me

1.      King has a new book

2.      It takes place in a tropical paradise

3.      There is blood.

On the flip side, there were a lot of trailers that I looked at that just didn’t grab my interest.  I won’t point any of them out here (grandma always said that if you can’t say anything nice. .  .), but most of them seemed to have common faults:

1.      Too long (and by too long, I mean over 3 minutes.)

2.      Too talky (If they give the whole book jacket in the trailer, it has probably lost my attention)

3.      Slow (slow music, slow to get to the message, static pictures)

The approach to book trailers that seem to make me want to read the book is the elevator pitch approach.  Imagine you have 30 seconds in an elevator to pitch a book to an agent.  What would you say?  The book trailers that attracted me were the ones that boiled down the book to the main idea and sold that.  The ones that didn’t were the ones that developed their pitch along the lines of: “This is jack.  This is Jill.  Jack and Jill need a pail of water.  They know there is a well at the top of the hill. What were they to do?”

How well we manage to take Tranquility and boil it down to the bare bones remains to be seen.


Also? Don’t forget about the Bride of Tranquility/Yard Dog Press holiday promotion. Buy my book and win swag! 

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  1. tmc4242 says:

    These in general do not work on me. I read about books. Like I go to news sites to read about the news, not be shown a video that gives me the information at half or a third of the speed I can get it by reading.

    Other’s mileage may vary…

    • Tracy says:

      That’s usually how it works. The book trailers seem to work for people who don’t devour books voraciously, though. I’m approaching it as just another tool in the tool box for grabbing someone’s attention. Hopefully teasing them enough that they’ll pick up the book and read the dust jacket, or whatever the internet equivalent is.

  2. jongibbs says:

    I love a good book trailer, especially if it’s entertaining 🙂

  3. bodgei says:

    I don’ty think I’ve ever watched on. I let my local book seller guid me in my buying. He hasn’t steared me wrong yet (Well Kushals Dart wasn’t for me but at the same time I wanted to know how it ended)

    • Tracy says:

      That used to be how everyone bought books. But a lot of folks buy online now, and even in big-chain stores, people may not always know the clerk behind the counter.

      • bodgei says:

        well there arn’t that many local book sellers left to buy from. I try not to buy from big chains – they don’t really stock a lot of what I read – and amizon seems to think I’m a 15 year old Native American boy who plays the recomendations they make are often odd.

        I’ve made a comitment to by from independants as much as I can – and with my reading speed they make a pritty peny from me.

  4. tracy_d74 says:

    I watch them sometimes . . . if I stumble across them. I have come across a couple that made me hunt the book down and add them to my GoodReads list. I tend to like vlogs where author talk about the book, the writing process or somehting like that. That is how I decided to read Book Thief after eyeballing it for weeks at the bookstore. This book is now in my top 10 favorite books of all time. A trailer made me get Sisters Prophecy, faster. So they worked for me.

    • Tracy says:

      Which ones made you want to buy the book, and what about them prompted you to take that extra step? I’ve got to confess that even though I liked the trailer for Sense and Sensability and Sea Monsters, I’m not going to get the book. I read the Zombie Austin mashup, and the mummy Austin mashup because I am familiar with the author, but after that I probably won’t read anymore of them. The novelty of the idea is beginning to wear thin, for me.

      • tracy_d74 says:

        Most trailers I seem to find after the fact . . . when I already own the book.
        The two that stand out that I saw the trailer first:

        1. The Book Thief the author talked about writing the book. He also talked about his own familial connection to Germany. He seemed personable and the story didn’t seem as dark when he talked about it. When I would read the back of the book and saw Nazi Germany . . . Hilter . . . I just cringed. Don’t get me wrong. One of my top 10 favorite books is Man’s Search for Meaning. And it is related to the same issues. I loved Night as I did Diary of Ann Frank. I just wasn’t sure I wanted to read another book about the issue. But when I heard the author talk about it . . . and learned more about his idea to use Death as the narrator and the power of words . . . well I was hooked. I had no problems getting the book. And I LOVED it. He uses words in a way that backs up the premise of the story . . . words are powerful.

        2. Sister’s Prophecy she had some teens talk about it (I think her kids and their friends) and then she talked about it. Again, it made the book seem more approachable. I saw her passion for it and I got passionate about it.

        Ah, I think I just nailed it. When an author seems invested, passionate, and connected to the story it makes me want to buy the book. Wow, it only took me five pages to get to the root. Sorry! 🙁

      • tracy_d74 says:

        I did like Maggie’s (it is really great . . . I would have bought the book had I seen it first. It’s musical, beautiful, and intriguing/unique) but I had already read the book. Same thing with Melissa Mar and her Wicked Lovely books. The WL ones are kinda silly. I’m not sure where I came across the Book Thief and Sisters Prophecy. I think maybe Border’s website . . . they always spotlight books and authors.