Before you “trailer,” consider this

Michael Kardos provided the following in a guest post to Darcy Pattison’s “Book Trailer Manual Newsletter.” He provides three important points worth considering before you attempt doing a trailer.

Book trailers are relatively new, are mainly an internet phenomenon, and, in my experience, often follow the same formula as movie trailers — to disastrous effect. The reasons?

• Budget. Book trailers don’t have anywhere near the budget of movie trailers. Hence, the attempt looks silly.

• Too melodramatic. Big-budget movie trailers, even for good movies, are usually highly melodramatic. So too are book trailers that copy the formula. Maybe because we expect our literature to be less melodramatic than our movies, the result comes across as really melodramatic.

• Usurping reader’s imagination. When we read a book, we create a world in our mind. If the author does his or her job right, that world is as full and real and nuanced as our own. Do we really want that literary world presented to us visually ahead of time?

A more basic way to state the problem is that movie trailers contain clips of movies. And movies are shot to be visually engaging. Books are printed on a page. The image exists only in our imagination.
Well, I don’t think your attempt has to look silly just because you created your own trailer, or had someone else do it, on a limited budget. Doing it on you own, however, does require some sophisticated computer knowledge. If you are going to use stock photos and music, you will also invest plenty of time going through the thousands of samples and then getting set up with the licensing costs (low that they might be).

Regarding Kardos’ last bullet item, I think he makes a very valid point. Have you ever read a book then later seen the movie, and said to yourself, “That movie star didn’t look anything like the hero in the book!”?

When people (me included) read, we create images in our imagination of what the characters look like. Your trailer is going to plant images in the person’s head that may affect how they would have pictured the character if left to their own devices. If you have watched both of the trailers for The Blizzard in my last post, you see there are two totally different-looking boys and girls in them. Neither of them really looks like the hero and heroine I imagined when I wrote the book, but when limited to stock photos, what other option do you have?

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