Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Are Book Trailers Effective?

So, how effective are book trailers (videos) at selling books?

The Wall Street Journal asked that question in a June 7, 2008, article, "Watch This Book." Its conclusion? "There is scant evidence . . . that the average book trailer actually has much impact on book sales."

No kidding.

It is very difficult to find a direct and concrete link between book sales and any form of promotion, whether it's a video on YouTube, a review in a magazine, a blog Q&A with the author, or a radio talk show interview. Collectively? Sure. If you're out there getting the book's name in front of your target audience and the book is selling, it's safe to say that your hard work to promote your book is paying off. But linking sales to one individual tool is a challenge.

Let's say your book trailer on YouTube motivates someone to buy the book. You can't link from your video's YouTube page to your book's Amazon or Barnes & Noble page, which means there is no direct connection between the video and the purchase page. If the video motivates somebody to purchase, they have to leave YouTube and search for your title on a retail site. How could you possibly track this? You can't really connect sales to videos unless you're retailing your book yourself from your own site and are tracking incoming links to your purchase page.

The only way we can know if a book trailer is helping to sell books is if it's the only promotion tool out there working on the book's behalf. Even then, you don't know if other factors are influencing sales as well -- factors that might include strong support among independent retailers known for hand-selling books they like or a viral marketing campaign started not by the publisher or author but by a fan.

Does the WSJ's conclusion mean that authors shouldn't invest in book trailers? No. It's only a reminder that it's just as hard to track the impact of this new promotion tool as it is any other tool. But it's important to remember that you shouldn't create a book trailer just because "everybody else" is doing it. Your decision depends on your book's target audiences and how they get their information. Book videos aren't necessary or appropriate for all titles, but they are worth considering for some, in spite of the lack of hard data showing that they help sell books.


Anonymous said...

Great post! There really isn't an effective way of tracking a book trailer's market value. What could help determine its promotional value is a forum between the author and trailer viewers, but even then, who knows who's buying the book.

I know a great deal of traditional publishers are jumping on the book trailer band wagon, so the publicity can't be all that harmful, and rather is likely quite helpful to authors.

I recently did an article on creating book trailers at our company blog http://authortreehouse.com that authors may want to check out.

Now, people can check out the companies who produce book trailers and also read up on free ways of making basic book videos from their own computers.

Thanks for the information, Sandra!

Sheila said...

Excellent blog! And a great comment by Justin!

There's a famous saying in marketing that "50% of all marketing works, you just don't know which 50%."

If you're interested in information specific about book trailers you can get The Book Trailer Revolution here-

So many people are talking about having a book trailer, but having one is just half the battle. Getting it to the right people is the other half.

You can indeed make a live link from YouTube. You need to put the http:// in front of the www. in the description area. Just thought I'd throw that out there.

As one of the producers of book trailers mentioned in the WSJ article and someone who provided a lot of information that didn't make it into the article (in all fairness you just can't cover everything) I had hoped to see more information about the evolution of book video distribution as part of that article.

Many of our videos get over 11 million impressions. And we send our videos out to 300 booksellers and 5000 libraries.

And I'm not sure where they got the $2000 quote from. Yes, some are that and more, but those are elaborate productions. Most are much less.

I'm off to check out Justin's site. I'm so happy to have come across this blog!



Free Book Promotion said...

Thanks for the information, Sandra! I learned a lot from your post.

vani said...

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Paul said...

Video is a proven marketing tool and there is no reason a book cannot be marketed by video.
What is important is it takes more than slapping a video together and sticking it on Youtube to be effective. Like a still ad, it needs to be displayed in relevent places for it to be effective. Youtube is a great host but you should really embed it on your site and anywhere you are advertising digitally. In the end however, the best video will not make a bad book good and success cannot be determined solely on using a video or not.