Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Book Trailers.

Cheers, all, now that I know there's an all to cheer! Imagine my surprise that some folks are reading this to whom I am not related, and I seem to have irritated all of them by suggesting we look for fiction for our students that was written after the Battle of Waterloo.

I'm straying into a bad area again, aren't I? Let me move briskly on, and see if I can't offend somebody else. This comes from a bit of a set-to I had recently on Facebook (why do I go there?). This was with a friend and a friend-of-a-friend. The friend runs a writers conference and also makes book trailers. And I do not see the point to book trailers.

Book trailer believers! You know who you are, having finished a novel or just working on one, sending out query letters or waiting for your beta readers, and making video trailers for your book. Or hiring someone to do it for you. You spend a great deal of time (hopefully not a great deal of money) on this, and end up with a shiny, well-made three- or five- or ten-minute video about your book.

Here's my Big Question: How do you get that in front of readers?

I'm a big reader. I have stacks of books to be read on the coffee table in front of me, more upstairs, books I've read are starting to stack up even on the stairs and in the hallway. Not only have I never purchased a book based on seeing a book trailer, I've never had a book trailer come my way. They don't appear in my little corner of the internet.

That's the first question that neither of my Facebook interlocutors could answer: How do book trailers get seen by potential readers? Are you supposed to just stick them up on YouTube and post a link on Facebook and hope for the best?

Strike one.

When I was at UCLA, a lot of folks were making trailers for screenplays. This was in the wake of the massive wave of "make the movie yourself!" mostly-disaster, which produced a few good movies and far more bankruptcies and divorces. So people scaled back, made trailers for screenplays, and then discovered there was no way to get them seen. Not just seen by people who could get them made— seen by anybody. And that was for a writing product that promised an experience similar to the trailer: movies. Movie trailers are an existing technology. What does a book trailer promise? Sitting by yourself for four or five hours, reading. Very different.

Strike two.

My last concern is, to quote another old writer, love's labors lost. Truman Capote once said that finishing a novel is just like you took your child out in the yard and shot it. Which means when you're done, you're done. When you have polished that novel to a gloss, query it and move on. Read, start working on new ideas, start building your next book. Let the old story go, until such time as an agent or editor wants to work on it with you. Don't spend your precious time fiddling with FinalCut. Besides, what happens to your book trailer if your agent or editor wants you to write the vampire out of the picture?

Strike three.

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