Wednesday, March 16, 2011

How effective are book trailers?

One of my freelance roles is being The Mortal Instruments Examiner for I follow and report on the Internationally popular series’ by young adult author Cassandra Clare. Last week the first of three ‘City of Fallen Angels’ book trailers hit the web. This trailer has already created buzz before it’s release by becoming a trending Twitter topic during the filming. Book trailers have become a topic of discussion and fascination among avid readers and writers alike.

Now, I do think that genre must be considered when answering or attempting to answer the title question. Book trailers are not for every book. I have a non-fiction coming out this summer and it would not be a candidate for such a marketing strategy. However, in YA where the demo is very tech savvy and hungry for social media, there is a great venue for book trailers. I think that the recent ‘City of Fallen Angels’ book trailer is a great example of where effective book trailers are going in the YA genre.
This is just the first trailer and it recaps crucial events from the last three books in ‘The Mortal Instruments’ series. I think that this is a style of trailer that many series’ will start to take on if their budget allows. Also, this trailer had more actors in it than any book trailer that I’ve ever seen (feel free to inform me of any others like it in a comment below.) I discussed this very thing in my interview with VLC Productions founder, Vania Stoyanova. “Fans love to see their characters come to life.” Explained Stoyanova.

Vania Stoyanova directed the award-winning ‘Clockwork Angel’ trailer as well as the ‘City of Fallen Angels’ trailer. I asked her how effective she felt book trailers were in the YA genre. “YA readers are starving for info. Information goes viral so quickly and it’s fun to see the stories translated.” Said Stoyanova.
I had the opportunity to interview Elke Villa, Senior Marketing Manager at Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing, the publisher for Cassandra Clare’s ‘The Mortal Instruments’ and ‘The Infernal Devices’ series.’ Below is my interview.

Natalie: Overall, how effective do you feel book trailers are?
Elke: I think they can be very effective as long as you have a way to get the trailer distributed beyond the publisher's site, through an online promotional campaign, an author platform, advertising, etc.

Natalie: What genres do you feel most benefit from them.
Elke: In terms of children's publishing, YA definitely is a genre that benefits the most from them, mainly because teens are online and adept at seeking out and sharing their interests in that space.

Natalie: Can you talk about the evolution of the book trailer? How have they evolved at S&S?
Elke: We have become much more selective in the titles that we produce book trailers for, since it takes a lot of time and resources to create a trailer with impact. We also tend to minimize text as much as possible and use voiceovers, if it's appropriate. We've also come to realize how important it is to find the right music.

Natalie: What percentage of S&S's authors use book trailers? Percentage of S&S YA authors?
Elke: It's a small percentage, and the majority are for YA titles, although we have done beautiful trailers for picture books and some fun (and funny) trailers for middle grade titles. A book trailer is really only worthwhile if people watch it, which is why a strategy to get the trailer promoted is necessary.

Natalie: How did the idea come up to make one of the 'City of Fallen Angels' trailers a "previously in" spot?
Elke: To clarify, the Previously In The Mortal Instruments video covered the highlights of the first 3 books in The Mortal Instruments series. The goal of that trailer was to generate buzz for the fourth book, City of Fallen Angels. We will be releasing a City of Fallen Angels trailer when the book publishes on April 5. In terms of the Previously In The Mortal Instruments trailer, our Online Marketing Manager suggested the idea during a brainstorming meeting. He is a huge fan of the TV series Lost and like many fans of the show, dissected the recap that happened before each episode. We anticipated that Cassandra Clare's dedicated fans would react similarly to the Previously In The Mortal Instruments trailer and have not been disappointed.

Natalie: Do you feel that more series will start using a "previously in" style trailer?
Elke: We will use this idea again at some point, for the right series.

Natalie: What are the benefits of an author doing a book trailer?
Elke: For the right book/series/author, a trailer can be great way to build buzz.

Do you think people buy based on seeing the trailer or does the trailer serve more as a reminder, marketing tool?
Elke: I wish I knew the answer to that question, since the reasons people buy books are so complex! I do believe that trailers are definitely one of several ways to pique people's interest in a book or series.

So now I ask you? How do you feel about book trailers? Have you ever bought a book based on a book trailer? Personally, I feel that the YA market is the best and most effective market for this kind of marketing. Good content and a good book trailer can go viral very quickly, creating a lot of buzz. I feel that this is a marketing tool that we will continue to see in the YA genre. But how effective is a book trailer? Only you can answer that question but from looking at the viewing numbers for the first ‘City of Fallen Angels’ trailer, I’d say it’s proving effective in this case.
You can find more coverage about the upcoming ‘City of Fallen Angels,’ it’s trailer and all things related to ‘The Mortal Instruments’ at my Examiner column, The Mortal Instruments Examiner.
Be sure to leave your comments on book trailers below.

Watch the first 'City of Fallen Angels' trailer. It was created by VLC Productions.

Also, watch Cassandra Clare's 'Clockwork Angel' trailer. This is a prequel series to 'The Mortal Instruments.' It's trailer also by VLC Productions won an award last year. It was the only trailer for this book.


  1. Great interview. I don't watch a lot of book trailers. Mostly ones for YA. A few have grab my attention and I've ended up buying the book.

    My favorite one by far was for Simone Elkeles's book, Rules of Attraction.

  2. I think it's kind of the tip of the iceberg. If they could apply full production values I think it would be a great way to increase marketing potential for a book.