Many die-hard fans of the written word remain skeptical of the public’s interest in book trailers. However, the continued relevance of this format suggests that this isn’t just a flash-in-the-pan literary trend: it’s a new feature in the continued evolution of how we market and consume print media. Book trailers also have a tendency to appeal to reluctant readers, which can help you stretch the tendrils of your campaign all the way to the shadowy, hard-to-reach corners of the market.
The majority of the most-viewed book trailers found on YouTube are for books that have already achieved the dream: they’re international bestsellers, they’re household titles, and they’re all signed to be made into films. This brings up a chicken-or-egg-type question: did the book trailer help to make the book famous, or did the book’s fame draw attention to its trailer?
Like most book marketing ploys, trailers rarely stand on their own as the main marketing mode for the book. However, they are an effective and important part of a cross-promotional campaign that can help generate more interest in a book. It can also help to legitimize a new, barely-heard-of title: if a potential reader types your title into a search engine and immediately draws up an intriguing and professional-looking trailer, they may take your book more seriously.
So, now that we’ve made the case for the importance of book trailers, what do you do with one, anyway?
The most obvious answer is YouTube: Get that trailer up there as soon as possible (all of our trailers automatically post to YouTube, so if you’re working with us, this is taken care of for you). Then, start promoting it. Post the link to your Facebook page, tweet it to your followers, add it to your Goodreads page, set up an Author Central account on Amazon and post the trailer (they will allow one trailer per user, so if you have more than one book, keep this in mind, and post your best or most-recent one).
Now, keep in mind that in these places, if you rely solely on the trailer to do the marketing for you, your reach is unlikely to extend much farther than the following you already have. If you have 100 Facebook friends, you may get up to 100 YouTube views (maybe more, if you can get your friends to re-share the link for you), which is a great start, but these people already know you, and it’s likely they’ve already heard about your book. The trailer becomes much more effective if you can reach audiences who haven’t heard of you or your book yet.
Grabbing the public eye can be a bit more difficult. Definitely post your book trailer up on Amazon, Twitter, and Goodreads, but also keep in mind that several million other books have trailers up on these sites as well. The chances of someone coming across yours by chance are fairly slim—you need to get the title out there and start garnering interest so that people will type that title into their search engines, see your trailer, and become even more interested in that book.
This brings us to step 2: getting into the public eye. Combine your trailer and any other marketing and publicity options you have for maximum effect. If you’re speaking at a church and they have a video feed, send your trailer to them in advance and ask them if they’ll play it for the congregation. Even if you’re not speaking at the church, if your book could be relevant to the congregation, see if they’ll show the trailer anyway.
You can try sending the trailer to book stores. This may help to convince them to stock your book. Branch out, but try to stick to relevant markets. Is it a young adult novel? See if you can get your trailer into schools. Some teachers even use trailer creation as an exercise to facilitate reading comprehension, so it could serve as inspiration for young minds. Is it a theological text? Maybe your bible college or seminary school has an event they’d like to show it at.
Make sure you set up a QR code that links to the trailer (if your trailer is created through us, we will do this for you). Then, put that QR code anywhere you can. If you have a poster, put it on the poster. If you have a business card, put it on the business card. Remember that church we mentioned before? Contact them and see if they have room to include the QR code in their church bulletins one Sunday.
When it comes to QR codes, sometimes less is more. One of the most effective uses of a QR code I have ever seen was a simple, white sign printed on a standard piece of computer paper that had the words “What’s up with this?” on it, and an arrow pointing to a QR code. “What is up with that?” I wondered to myself, and immediately pulled out my phone and scanned the code. As our minds become more accustomed to seeing ads and ignoring them, a little bit of curiosity can be an effective tool. Print out slips of paper with the QR code and title of your book on them and slip them into library books, leave them on tables in the cafeteria at your local mall, paste them to your bumper so you’ll draw in anyone who walks past your car in the parking lot.
If you’re really determined to use that trailer to promote your book, you can also look into inexpensive advertising options—purchase space from Google and Facebook to get your trailer out online, or get in touch with paper media to get an ad into print (don’t forget the QR code!). Whatever you do with that trailer, remember that this fun, dynamic, exciting marketing venue won’t do much for your book if it’s tucked away on YouTube by its lonesome; trailers need visitors, and potential readers are out there waiting for an invitation from you, so get cracking!
Amy Groening is a Project Manager at Word Alive Press. She is a passionate storyteller with experience in blogging, newspaper reportage, and creative writing. She holds an Honours degree in English Literature and is happy to be working in an industry where she can see other writers’ dreams come to life. She has a hand in many creative pursuits, including sewing, sculpture and painting, and spends an embarrassingly large amount of time at home taking photos of her cats committing random acts of feline crime.