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A Book Trailer? Really?

What makes you decide to buy a book? A review? The back cover synopsis? The font cover? Besides being a fan of the author, most people buy a book based on one of those three things.

This is why I was surprised when I got into the world of self-publishing. Apparently, there is a trend out there to create book trailers – yes book trailers – to promote your book. When I first saw this, I laughed. Honestly, who would by a book based on a video trailer?

My feelings on a book trailer have not changed. It doesn’t matter what an author does, if he makes a book trailer to promote a book, I feel it hurts the perceived quality of the book. It makes it seem amateurish. I do not see, in any way, how a book trailer is going to help your book sell.

In the past, I read a book called Homecoming by Sue Ann Bowling. Watch the book trailer for this book, and tell me if it taints your view of the book. I think it makes it feel cheesy, campy, and, frankly, unprofessional.  Had I watched this trailer first, I probably wouldn’t have given the book a second thought to read.

In my opinion, there is no way you can take the written page and equate it to a movie trailer. Reading a story and watching one are two very different things. And part of the fun of reading is imagining in your head what everything looks like. The special effects are always good. The character models always make sense. The plotline seems reasonable. But when you have a book trailer, low or high production, it sears an image on the brain that makes you look at the book differently – and most likely not for the better. How often have you seen an actual movie based on a book only to say, "The book was better."?

Maybe some indie authors have found success using book trailers, but I can’t help feeling they do more harm than good. Personally, I don’t think I’ll ever do one. And if I do, please refer me back to this post!

What about you? Are you an author who put out a book trailer to market your book? Do you feel it helped, hurt, or had no effect on your sales? Sound off in the comments below, I'd love to know your experiences!


  1. No I am not a fan of book trailers. It doesn't seem right somehow. Now a video interview of the author talking about his new book, or a recording of a signing or something like that are a different thing.
    For example, this video of Harlan Coben and Alafair Burke

    But a cheesy, "movie" style trailer just doesn't work, you're going to be reading a book not watching a movie.

  2. A video interview or something similar is different. I don't feel that would ruin the books impression either.

  3. Hmmm...interesting outlook. Perhaps I'll quiz you further on this Monday, say around 4PM?


  4. A bad trailer hurts the book. A good one probably doesn't help. Personally, I think they're a waste of time and I never bother to look at them. I choose my books by reading a sample (preferred), reviews, or knowing the author's previous work.

  5. I think it depends on who your target audience is. If you are writing for older readers it may not be as important. As someone who is writing a teen fiction novel though, I have to consider it. I met a high school teacher who said that she shows them to her students (one a week) and finds that a lot of the kids end up picking up the books.

    I agree that a bad trailer hurts the book. I have seen some really odd ones out there.

  6. Interesting. I never thought of it from that perspective.

  7. I agree totally. At best they look pretentious-we are writers, not movie stars. You can keep your book trailers, I shall get my name out there the old fashioned way-Social Media =)


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