Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Videos! Trailer Made

Book trailers get a lot of bad press. I understand that. There are a lot of terrible ones out there, maybe even more than good ones. People like to imagine the book without pre-impressed visuals, yes, agreed. A lot of them tell too much, don't make sense, or are so hokey they make certain no one will ever, ever, buy the book. Yup.

But I love them still. 

Maybe not so much what they are now, maybe what I love is what they could become. Either way, if I get into a loop watching book trailers, I end up watching more and more. Youtube is like a bottomless pit I have to drag myself away from. Blazing Trailers can kill a good hour in a heartbeat. I love trailers. I analyze them, critique them, imagine what they could have done, or mine them for ideas and effects I want to use in my own. 

They are getting a lot better too. Despite an abundance of anti-trailer opinion that often borders on hostility, big publishers have latched onto the idea. They're putting money behind production and creating some great little trailers. . . and they've put out more than a few stinkers too. The book trailer, you see, is still finding itself. It hasn't decided what it wants to be or what formulas it will adopt. No one knows what works or if anything works, and so for now, anything goes. There's beauty in that. It's perfect chaos. 

I do love chaos. 

I think the hang up about them comes from the way books are changing. We like recognizable, familiar things, and our books have nothing, should have nothing, to do with this ridiculous multi-media revolution. Right? Except, there's always been the movie adaptations, the comic books, the animated versions, graphic novels, action figures...etc. Still, that's not a commercial, and at its core a book trailer is that exactly. It's a commercial for a book. The horror. 

But wait. Movie previews rule, right? I mean, how many of us claim the previews are the best part? I always have. The suspense, the drama of that little montage of movies to come, of releases yet to be. How else would we plan our summer movie viewing experience if not for the blessed trailers? So then is it just that this little book except, this preview, is in a different media than the finished product? I actually think this may be the real seed of contention. I hate when someone reveals what a character looks like and it diverges a great deal from my mental image.  I'd go so far as to say imagining the people in a book in our mind's eye is a huge part of our reading enjoyment. It's also much more difficult to insert ourselves into a book when we've already seen a picture of the protagonist--in particular if its a stupid, stock photo image that makes our aesthetic want to barf. 

Aha. Thinking about this, my favorite book trailers, the ones I consider to be very well done, never show the characters at all. I honestly think putting pictures of real people in your trailer is a huge mistake. (okay, in particular if you're stealing celebrity photos so we know exactly WHO you based your hero on--just saying) Really though, the ones with simple images, powerful text, and great music trailers are my favorites. They just seem classier than a bunch of folks form the local re-enactment group acting out scenes from your book in the city park.  .  .  . I can't imagine why. 


I like to see the cover, hear some of the author's words, and get an idea of the book's mood. Show me you can do that artfully in a trailer, and for me, it's a winner. 

But I shall expect a great deal of disagreement on this one. Fire away. 
~ Frances


Francene Stanley said...

I like the thought of book trailers and have seen three at the most. I agree that our own imagination can conjure up something far better, which is why the movie made from the book usually lets us down.

MK said...

Book trailers are great! In fact that's one of the non-writing tasks in publishing a book I enjoy the most.

Sheila said...

I love book trailers-without real people in them. I prefer to see them how I build them in my head. Awesome post.


Frances Pauli said...

I think that we may have hit the nail on the head. I don't like a trailer that robs me of the imagining experience, but I do love one that moves me with words and simple images or video.
There is a great example on youtube at:
It's not mine and it's not even spectacular but the music and the simple video paired with her words really struck me as elegant.
I'm seeing more and more done like this and I LOVE it.
It helps that they end with a STUNNING cover image. So simple. Trailers should sell the book, not tell it. :D

Frances Pauli said...

So I went chasing trailers in the sidebar after posting the link to Biter Frost, and Amanda Hocking has some absolutely gorgeous book trailers in this style, too. hmmmm. Very lovely and interesting.

Jarm Del Boccio said...

I have watched only a handful of children's picture book trailers, and they are eye-catching. Good thoughts here, Frances! Just stopping by from the Challenge...

Anonymous said...

This is enormously helpful, Frances, thank you so much. I haven't got into book trailers yet - haven't even explored them yet - so you've really given me some excellent hints and tips of where to look first to see what they are all about. Thanks a bundle.
And Happy A to Z-ing