Book trailers are a fun idea: a visual storytelling of your book, to put up on YouTube. They can be done really well, but often aren’t. Quality is an issue, a cheap one may cost a couple hundred bucks, and look unprofessional anyway.
But do they actually help sell the book?
I don’t think so, and this is why:
If you aren’t famous, your author name and your book name isn’t famous either. So when you make a video and put it on YouTube with the title “A book trailer for XXX by Author Name” nobody is going to find you, except for the people you share it with.
But if you already have people you can reach (followers, etc) they probably already know about your book. You’ve probably already told them about it. They’ve seen the cover already. They either bought it, or didn’t. So when you do a book trailer for your book, you’re basically spending money to market your book to people who you don’t need to market to!
Real book marketing is about putting your book in front of new readers and expanding your reach beyond your followers and author platform. It’s true, YouTube can be a great way to do this… but only if you’re using keywords and content that is going to attract the right readers.
What to do instead
Instead of making a book trailer for your book, you should:
Review 20 other books in your genre. It’s sooooo easy. Just go to the Amazon page (if you don’t want to record yourself speaking), and take a screenshot while you talk a bit about the book. Title your video “A book review of XXX by Author Name”. Use bestselling books – your ideal readers will find you because you are using things they already know about and are searching for. Actually this is already a big thing: they’re called “BookTubers” and there are tons of them… so instead of reviewing bestselling books, it may be a better idea to review other mid-level indie authors. Those authors will probably be grateful you’re doing free marketing for them (even though, it’s actually marketing for your own book in disguise).
Once you get in the habit of making videos, it’s a super way to extend your platform. I’ve made 5 in the last hour and published them to YouTube. Sometimes I’ll record myself talking, which is good for trust and personability, but the truth is, it’s really about the keywords. Talk about anything that relates to your target genre or audience. Talk about bigger issues. Build a network of content that your ideal readers will like: you’re basically casting a wide net and giving people lots of ways to find you.
Today I’m writing blog posts and then making YouTube videos talking about my blog posts. It’s simple, and it basically “Doubles Down” the same content.
Will I also make a book trailer, for fun? Maybe… though most book trailers look crappy and having just one video on YouTube isn’t going to do anything for you. Instead I’d rather do something crazy awesome (if I was going to do one, I’d want to go to Dunlace Castle in Northern Island and dress up as a mermaid and jump off the fucking cliff or something).
But it doesn’t have to be a grand thing. Instead of one video, read 25 short excerpts from different parts of your book and post those on YouTube. Since nobody knows you or your book, why not title it “Excerpts from the bestselling new mermaid romance that everyone is talking about” (which is totally presumptuous, unless you can pull it off). But still: 25 videos with different keywords will work better than 1 nice book trailer.
The exception to the rule is if your book trailer is Hollywood quality… but even then: I made a great one for my first book, super polished and professional, did everything right, but it didn’t really help sales. NO amount of promotion or marketing or fancy videos or anything else is going to sell the book.
The books is going to sell itself, if it’s good enough. You have to find a way to give readers a sample of the actual book content, and the story and writing has to be so amazing they simply must read the rest. Quality speaks for itself. Everything else is pissing in the wind.