Book Trailers: The Nitty Gritty for Authors and a Bright Idea for Teachers

Sepia_Film_Strip_clip_art_hightBook trailers. Everyone seems to be creating them nowadays. With so much user-friendly technology at our fingertips, why not? Do they sell books? That’s debatable. Do they have other uses? You bet they do!

First of all, authors, do trailers sell books? If your title is already popular, yeah, a trailer might help you sell even more. But if your book is struggling in the Amazon rankings, don’t expect a trailer to work any magic. Creating a trailer can’t hurt. It is one more way for readers to discover your work. But keep in mind it’s just as hard to bring attention to a video as it is to a book.

Another reason trailers don’t sell many books is because most of them are incredibly, hair-rippingly boring. Effective trailers are short, to the point, and leave readers needing to know more. But there are a dozen bad ones for every good one. For some reason, many authors can write a killer blurb but can’t create a concise hook in video format to save their lives. I rarely give any of them more than 30 seconds.

But YOU created several two-minute videos, you may be saying. Yeah, yeah. A few years ago, I jumped on the bandwagon. With one exception, my trailers are positively mediocre. But I didn’t delete them, because when someone is already interested in my book… Let me repeat that. When someone is already interested in my book, a trailer can be useful.

For example, when I’m soliciting reviews from bloggers, I pitch the story. Then at the end of my query email, after I’ve already gotten their attention (hopefully), I direct them to the trailer. When I do this, more often than not they watch the video and accept the book.

Other times I’m asked by friends or readers which of my books they should try first or next or some similar question. I often send them links to the trailers. At this point, they want to watch. Trailers don’t sell books, but they can cement interest that’s already there.

I’m finally getting to the teacher portion of this post. I am a teacher, so my thoughts usually drift back to the classroom eventually. And nope, I’m not recommending teachers show our book trailers to their students. (You were afraid I might suggest that, weren’t you?) I’m recommending they let students create their own!

Three reasons for this:

  1. It’s a new spin on the tired old book reports. Yes, I assign them, too. But sometimes a little variety can turn drudgery into something fun.
  2. The technology is out there, user-friendly and at our fingertips. Why not teach kids to use it? (Check out Richard Byrne’s helpful post about tools.)
  3. Three, it’s a great way to connect students with authors. What author wouldn’t be tickled to get a video from kids featuring their book? Every single one I know would reach out in return. And most kids would be tickled to hear back from them. It’s a fabulous opportunity to create interest and enthusiasm for literature.

Book trailers. I don’t watch too many of them. They simply can’t compete with Hollywood’s trailers. But with a little creative thinking, maybe you can think of some great uses for them, too. After all, the technology is out there, user-friendly and at your fingertips.

In conclusion, let me mention Emblazon’s YouTube channel…which just so happens to include my one trailer I’m actually kinda proud of.


michelleWhen Michelle Isenhoff is not writing imaginary adventures, she’s probably off on one. She loves roller coasters, big dogs, high school football games, swimming in big waves, old graveyards, and wearing flip-flops all winter. Once an elementary teacher, Michelle now homeschools two of her three kids and looks forward to summer adventures as much as they do.

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About Michelle Isenhoff

MICHELLE ISENHOFF has been reader-nominated for a Cybils Award, the Great Michigan Read, and the Maine Student Book Award. She's also placed as a semi-finalist in the Kindle Book Review Book Awards and been named a finalist in the kid-judged Wishing Shelf Book Awards. A former teacher and current homeschooler, Michelle has been lauded by the education community for the literary quality of her work, which is regularly purchased for classroom use.

6 thoughts on “Book Trailers: The Nitty Gritty for Authors and a Bright Idea for Teachers

  1. Love this post, Michelle! I think a student’s eyes would pop upon being ask to create a book trailer instead of a book report. What a different way to tap into a kid’s creative juices. I agree about book trailers only being 30 secs. The longer, the more boring. Cheers and thanks for the idea!

  2. I’ve never thought of linking my trailers in my book review requests. Duh? At least, if I did that in the beginning, I have totally forgotten about it now. It’s like I put my trailers up on Youtube and then completely forgot about them. 🙁 And, I love the idea of having kids make them. Mine would be totally into something like that.

  3. Some students made a trailer for one of my books and they were so proud of it. The teachers tell me they like looking at the trailers before I come for a school visit. I think it is worth the time to put something together. I don’t believe they actually add more sales. BTW I like your trailers.

  4. Thanks, ladies! Darlene, that’s another great example of taking advantage of prior interest and using a trailer effectively. And what an honor to have kids make one for your book!

  5. I’ve always wondered if trailers really work. I’d love to do one for my first MG, though. It’s set around the 1968 disappearance of the USS Scorpion, the last sub lost by the Navy. It’d be cool to put together a trailer based on that. I’d love to see what the kids would come up with.

    My first time here, by the way. Glad I found you!

    1. Welcome, Ron! Hmmm…disappearing sub…sounds interesting! There are lots of articles online about creating a trailer if you want to try one, and it is kind of fun. But as the post said, I’ve found they don’t really influence sales.

      Oh! Another thing I do with trailers is link to them in the back of my books in my “other titles by this author” section. I have received a few comments from readers about that, so I guess they have influenced those sales. But again, prior interest.

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