I love a good book trailer, but I must admit that when I was first introduced to the idea I found the whole concept a little odd. A movie trailer draws on ready-made material but a book trailer has to create something from scratch, converting written words into visual images.
Although book trailers have been around for about a decade, it’s only in the last few years that they’ve really taken off. Now they’re part of many publishers’ marketing strategies, but the good ones are more than a marketing tool — they’re works of art in their own right. I still adore the trailer for my short fiction collection, Two Steps Forward, produced by filmmaker Daniel Cahill, that, for me, falls into that category. It offers a taste of the mood and tone of the book without giving anything away. Daniel also produced The Sound of Silence trailer (a collection of nonfiction stories on miscarriage edited by yours truly) that manages to be both informative and moving (the single heartbeat at the end gets me every time).
The quality of book trailers varies enormously. Some of them are produced by the author without a budget to speak of and are just plain awful. They look cheap and tacky. Or are too long. Or the camera work is amateurish. Or the author pontificates about their book in a yawningly tedious manner. I could go on but you get the point. (I’m going to save you the agony of sharing any of these.)
At the other end of the spectrum, there are big-budget mini-movies. (Indeed some of them seem designed to interest Hollywood in optioning the book.) These trailers are slick, polished and expensive. In between there’s a range of creative, compelling and well-produced trailers made for smaller sums. Often by the author who has drawn on the talent of their friends to create something innovative and engaging.
So I thought I’d share a few of the best (some made by publishers, some by the authors themselves), starting with my all-time favourite, an eerie, mind-blowingly-good paper animation for Maurice Gee’s Going West, produced by the New Zealand Book Council in 2009.
Next up is the super cool trailer for Miranda July’s No One Belongs Here More Than You. And this trailer for John Wray’s Lowboy is just plain funny. Comedian Zach Galifianakis takes on the persona of Wray who in turns plays a journalist interviewing him about the book. Confused? Just watch it.
Closer to home, this is a simple idea executed with style for Cate Kennedy’s recent collection of poetry, A Taste of River Water.
And before you’re all trailered out let’s squeeze in one more of Super Sad True Love Story by Gary Shteyngart (starring Jeffrey Eugenides and James Franco among others). It satirises the publishing industry to great effect and has racked up close to a quarter of a million views. Not bad for a book trailer.
Ultimately all these trailers are trying to achieve the same thing: convince you to go out and buy the book. So do any of these do it for you? And have you ever bought a book after watching a trailer?