Book trailers? Absolute necessity or pretty fluff?

book-trailersI have a few authors in my various social media streams – Google+, Facebook, Twitter – and one of the things I have been noticing an increase in is the frequency of book trailer postings.

I am a child of the 80s; and from a so-called “Third World” country, no less. The word “trailer” primarily forms the image of a vehicle that is towed behind another automobile or some kind, and is usually for either leisure or for the transportation of goods. After a while, the term “movie trailer” was assimilated into my vocabulary because … well, everybody goes to the movies, right? We used to call them “previews”, and in a lot of cases, that’s still a term that is used today. Previews, or trailers if you prefer the term, are how we determine whether a movie looks like something we’d want to see.

As with books, there are movies we automatically know we want to see just based on factors such as: a favorite or respected actor, that a prequel was so good you’d watch any sequel that came afterwards, or a story that you are familiar with and want to see on screen. Sometimes it’s about the director or the setting and sometimes it is simply just needing something funny to watch this weekend with the family.

Most times, we can look at who is starring in a movie or the title of a movie, or even the poster for a movie and know that we want to see it. Sometimes it’s not so clear and a trailer helps seal the deal either way. I suggest that this is the same scenario with books. There are authors you know you’ll always want to read. (Although, with authors such as Anne Rice – who has switched genres at least twice in the last decade – that may be less of a certainty.) And then, there are books you think you might want to read, but the description doesn’t give you enough information one way or another.

This is where the book trailer steps in for authors. It’s a way to help your readers seal the deal and commit to reading your work. People tend to be somewhat visual. Showing or telling them what is likely to be in store for them in your novel, is a good way to lure them for the read. Mashable did a piece on why book trailers are now essential in publishing back in 2011. (And I am stunned that I am only now taking note of this subject. How far behind the times does that make me?) The author makes the point in his summation that “We live in an age where fewer people are reading, and more people are watching.” This is an uncomfortable truth. As an avid reader myself, I find I opt for the easy brainless movie or TV show far more often than I opt for the book after a stressful day. And while this is something I work on changing everyday, I can easily see why book trailers are beginning to make more and more sense. They help recapture people like me from the visual world and back into the imaginary one.

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