The title of this post says it all, really. I’ve been keen to have a book trailer for RealmShift for ages but just not got around to it. Recently I decided to make it a priority and started looking into it more seriously. And that made me wonder – would it really help to sell copies? I can’t afford to have a trailer made for me (more on that in a minute) so investigated making my own. Once I started looking into buying stock images and video to stitch together a trailer I realised that it’s not cheap. I’d thought about filming my own clips, but then it would be likely to turn out like teenagers playing movie games and make me and/or the book look like a right numpty. And even if I bought quality footage, could I make a quality trailer? Would I do my books more harm than good? So what to do?

I started looking at as many book trailers as possible. Some of them are clever, some have impressive production values and some are truly awful. Which is not unlike books – some are clever, some are impressive, some are awful. And while I enjoyed watching some of the trailers, I didn’t go and buy any books.

I made a mention on Twitter that I was looking into doing a book trailer for RealmShift and that generated a bit of debate. It seemed like a lot of people were not impressed by the very concept of book trailers. Someone even said, “Have you ever bought a book because of a trailer?” Well, no, I haven’t. So I asked Twitter:

Hey Twitter – help me out here: Have any of you bought a book based on a book trailer you watched online?

I got a wide range of replies, including things like:

@SeandBlogonaut – are book trailer’s worth the effort?

@CandleForex – no i havent. i like to read the first page or the overview of the book before making a decision

@GRIMACHU – Yes… but I can’t remember what it was… which isn’t that helpful

@MyLittleRedPen – Nope. Always buy books based on recommendations by people or bec I see it in a book shop.

@cochineal – No. Book trailers are uniformly awful.

@fangbooks – yes, but that was more INSPIRED to buy by the trailer… loved the 1st

Not a resounding endorsement of the power of book trailers really.

Something that occurred to me is maybe the professionally produced trailers are more likely to score a hit. If something looks homemade, then then product is going to be considered equally shabby. If I made a book trailer for RealmShift and it was as awful as a lot of Twitter considers other trailers to be, would that actually affect book sales in the wrong direction? I expect most of the trailers people have seen are “homemade” and that’s where this attitude to them comes from. My books are bloody good* so why spoil them with a half-arsed book trailer? Perhaps paying for a pro job is worthwhile (I said pro job).

Well, that’s not an option. A professionally produced book trailer runs into thousands of dollars. While I’d love to say that I make enough from my writing to justify that kind of promotional expense, it would be bullshit. And in my exploration of book trailers, even some that were clearly professionally put together were still bloody awful.

On the other hand, all the book trailers I’ve watched made by Paul Murphy are bloody brilliant. Have a look at these and tell me they don’t work. Or do they? I watched loads of these and loved them all, but I didn’t buy any books. But, there were a couple that stuck in my mind and I’ll remember those books if I ever see them again, on a shelf or an Amazon perusal. A quality trailer for the kind of book that appeals to me made me sit up and take notice. The truth is, a trailer is only ever going to be one part of the overall promotion and marketing of a book. No one aspect of promo is more important than others.

I contacted Book Tease, Paul Murphy’s company, and asked about the cost of producing a book trailer. I was told that a 30 second trailer with a script, motion graphics and music costs between $2000 to $2500. Now, if I was a big publisher and expected to sell several thousand units of a book, that would be a quite acceptable marketing expense. But I’m not. My books are published by a small press in the US and their marketing budget doesn’t stretch to that kind of expense any more than my own does.

There’s a really good interview with Paul Murphy here, talking about book trailers.

But watching Murphy’s trailers made me realise something. If I can’t have a trailer for RealmShift that’s at least as good as his work, then I don’t want one at all. The general consensus seems to be that most book trailers are awful, and mine would be too if I made it myself. As I can’t afford the services of Paul Murphy or someone like him, I’ll have to wait until I sell a novel to one of the big publishing houses that does have that kind of budget and they can pay for a book trailer for me, as part of a bigger marketing campaign. And when that does happen, I’ll be suggesting they call Mr Murphy. I’d love to see his vision of my book in a trailer.

So I should stop bloody blogging and get back to work on the new book.

* Of course I think my books are bloody good. If you don’t believe me, go and buy a copy and decide for yourself. 🙂

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