Thursday, June 23, 2011

Book Trailers

Book trailers are a phenomenon that have fascinated me for some time.  This shouldn't be much of a surprise, as I am a writer and have a degree in film production.  I think, in theory, book trailers can be an excellent method of promotion.

Theory and practice are two different things. 

I've almost never seen a book trailer where my reaction scored higher than, "Well, I don't NOT want to read the book now."  I can't think of seeing one where it actually enticed me.

Part of why is so few book trailers (at least, of those that I've seen) use the medium effectively.  The book trailer should do the same sort of job as the cover and blurb... but not the exact same job.  Because the medium is not the same.  It's video, you need image and motion and sound.  Some give me little more than words on the screen, words that I might as well read on the back of the book.  That's not a trailer, it's just dictating my reading speed.

And, let's face it, many book trailers (even ones for traditionally published books) are very amateurish.  I once, on a panel, heard professionals advice would be writers to use stock images.  This strikes me as completely off the mark.  If you use stock images, then all you'll accomplish is making your work look painfully generic.  Same thing with the sound: sometimes I see nothing, or a selection that came from The Public Domain's Greatest Hits.  Does it FIT?  Does it work?  Eh, usually no.

Here's one that's not bad.

The sound design is crisp and professional.  A nice voiceover of, I presume, text from the book read by someone who has a good dramatic voice.  Music is well-crafted into the rest of the work.  I like the shot of the moon with the clicking years.  The shot of the eye goes on a bit too long.  The naked body is a bit generic-stock looking, but the shifting words over it keeps it active.  The shot of the guy in the suit, standing on a cliff edge while carrying a briefcase?  Kind of pointless.  That reads like someone plucked the word "stockbroker" out of the text without paying attention to the context.   But the whole thing keeps moving and gets done in one minute and 11 seconds.  That's good.

Do you have a book trailer?  Do you know someone who has a book trailer?  Do you know of a book trailer that you think is really good?  Send me a link.  I'm going to start doing reviews.  (And I have a film degree, and I had an A- average, so I'm right, like, 93% of the time.) 


Abby Goldsmith said...

As another writer with a degree from a film school, I totally agree. Most book trailers suck. When it comes time for me to do one, I will try to do it right.

Here's a not-so-wonderful trailer for a Scott Sigler novel (even though I loved the book):

The Max Quick trailer is okay:

Marshall Ryan Maresca said...

Ooh, both of those are good ones for me to review to start. Especially since they are both pro pieces of work (i.e., the books are traditionally published by major houses), so reviewing the book trailer is totally fair game. And having watched them both real quick, I have plenty I can say about them. Thanks!

A. Lockwood said...

Oooh, great idea. I look forward to seeing more book trailer reviews, and if I find any good ones I'll send them your way.

Marshall Ryan Maresca said...

Yeah, this is an idea that's been simmering in my brain for a while. I think a good book trailer is very possible, but it just doesn't happen much.