Why This Trailer Worked For Me

I have watched Maggie Steifvater’s video twice, because it makes me giggle. The fairy with toast? HA! The SCUBA love?! SNORT.

And, as Darlene Marshall pointed out in the comments, I’m totally curious about Maggie Stiefvater’s books.

So why did this trailer work for me? Two reasons:

1. It’s indirect marketing at its finest. It’s not a hard sell. You don’t see her books until later in the trailer and even then they’re not the main focus. It’s about paranormal romance and hot squid lovin’.

You don’t even see the author because she is, literally and figuratively, behind the content. The content is front and center.

2. FUNNY FUNNY. Stiefvater is demonstrating both a knowledge of the paranormal genre (yes, many people are looking for a new genre to scratch the vampy itch) and a familiarity with the more popular tropes within it, while cracking me up. 

The format, with the low tech cards and the well-rendered animation, is simple and witty. If that’s Stiefvater’s style of humor, and it carries over into her books, I’m so curious about them already, because damn that was clever.

I love clever. I love funny. I love witty.

And I hate being subjected to variations of a hard sell. And how many combinations of stock photography, swirly animation, and voiceover can there be before the trailers all begin to look the same?

If her video had been “A fairie tortured by his own desires… A mortal woman who isn’t what she seems…” with photographs and blowing leaves and whatnot, I would have tuned out almost immediately.

I did an interview in 2007 about book trailers with Toni McGee Causey, Colleen Gleason, and Jackie Kessler, and over two years later, many of the techniques they discuss are still in active use. Causey made the point that part of the purpose of her trailer was to explain her story and her character to the publisher’s marketing folks in a mini-film so they’d better know how to publicize the book.

Two years later, I think that is probably still one of the best uses for a book trailer. In addition, I think book trailers are mostly interesting to other authors. As a reader, I am rarely if ever swayed by them when they are a plot synopsis in standard promotional language.

That said, I am always curious about creative authors. Display humor and wit with cleverness and style? I’m going to be curious about you, and curious about how those traits might show up in your books. Hell, take this example: I’ve typed her name so many times, I now know how to spell “Stiefvater.” If I see her name, I’ll definitely recognize it.

Also? Kraken. Giant squid. OMGHA! Only thing better: WERE SQUID. WHYYYY is no one writing the were-squid chronicles?!

So, the age old question: do book trailers do anything for you as a reader? Do you like the video approach to book synopsis? Would you like to watch booktrailers while you shopped in a bookstore, for example, as a shopping aid? Or do they leave you indifferent?

Comments are Closed

  1. 1
    Suzanne says:

    Book trailers leave me cold… give me a good book cover and interesting blurb any day.

    hrm…my word is during79… during 79 I was born!

  2. 2
    Brooks*belle says:

    Book trailers like this one that show creativity and surprise are appealing.

    But nah—overall I go for word-of-mouth for what I read next.  Especially recommendations from the bitchery.

  3. 3
    readerpeg says:

    Loved the video! 

    Generally, I prefer reviews from people/sites (less likely to get burned) but this video has intrigued me, and I’m not even into paranormal material at all (is that even the right term?)  An author with her sense of humor and creativity, plus the sense that she doesn’t take herself in an overly serious way makes me really interested in her work.

    I just confess I was a little disappointed there wasn’t really a Kraken book.  Because I was “feeling the magic” at the end of that video!

  4. 4
    Mary G says:

    Only book trailers I’ve ever seen (besides this one) have been for mysteries… and they’re usually all so similar that none of them have made any impact on me.

    This trailer… I loved, and I will check the book out despite the fact that “teen fiction” usually leaves me cold.

  5. 5
    Sarah says:

    Not a book trailer person. 

    But I loved the trailer for this one.  I think cause it didn’t feel like a book trailer.

  6. 6
    Terytha says:

    I enjoyed this a lot. I like the idea of book trailers if they’re all clever and witty, or at least interesting in some way. Still, I don’t know that you’d see the clever ones as often as the standard “dramatic” ones, complete with voiceover by that guy who seems to announce just about everything in existence. And those are boring enough to make me not really want to wade through them to find good ones.

    A good trailer wouldn’t make me buy the book, but it would make me more likely to search for it specifically at the bookstore and read a couple test pages.

  7. 7
    StephS says:

    Most book trailers look the same to me and they’re usually boring with the same Over The Top wording and crap production value.  They always have the feel that someone found the movie maker application that came with their computer and decided to play around with it.  A homemade feel when you’re obviously trying to go for professional and smooth…not good.  However I always like humor and wit so I liked this trailer and it has a homemade feel to it but it’s *supposed* to have that look! 
    I’m with SB Sarah on not liking the hard sell so I really would not like to be subjected to trailers in bookstores.  Could you imagine if there were televisions streaming book trailers and ads for books mounted all over the store?!  I get a headache just thinking about it.

  8. 8
    romantic@heart says:

    This book trailer totally worked for me -it was hilarious and witty- and piqued my interest so much about the author that I ran to Amazon to check out her books and found one I liked enough to buy.

  9. 9
    joanneL says:

    I’m not the target audience for book trailers because the only ones I look at are for books that I’ve already ordered or already read.

    I’m a rabid fangirl of the Jayne Castles book trailers featuring her dustbunnies. Just cute.

    I dislike the trailers that feature friends and family members who are suppose to be characters from the books and look nothing like those characters.

    And authors doing sketches that are only funny if you’re in the room with them and have already consumed a few bottles of something over 80 proof.

  10. 10

    Maggie Stiefvater is amazing. I too can spell her name w/o screwing it up! :)

    She’s made a few awesome trailers. I love her Shiver trailer!

    I like most book trailers. Some are sooo poorly done it’s a turn off. But sometimes they are magnificent.

    The trailer for Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick is a good one. It’s better than the book!

    And an all time favorite book promotion of mine is by Libba Bray for her Going Bovine title. The video is just so silly it made me want to read this book to see if she was really that silly. ;)

  11. 11
    Ulrike says:

    If that’s Stiefvater’s style of humor, and it carries over into her books, I’m so curious about them already, because damn that was clever.

    I love clever. I love funny. I love witty.

    Yes. This, this, this!!!

  12. 12
    SonomaLass says:

    The book trailers I have liked prior to this one have been pretty funny, and the style of the trailer has reflected something of the style of the author and the book. The two that come to mind are Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters (aka The Kraken Book), which I haven’t read, and What Happens In London by Julia Quinn, which I enjoyed.  But in each of these cases, I only viewed the trailer because someone whose taste I trust showed it to me and said it was worth watching.  Normally I don’t bother with them, so it’s pretty rare for a trailer to influence my buying.

  13. 13
    orangehands says:

    In general, I am not a fan of book trailers. I find them to be too long and too detailed (I don’t need the plot to be completely laid out for me*). And as someone who has sat for hours and watched youtube videos, I still would not sit for hours and watch book trailers. Its like editors going through their slush pile – there’s probably a few good ones in it, but I’m not willing to weed through them all to find them unless someone is pointing them out. And for the love of all that is holy, please do not put them on TV screens inside of bookstores.

    While I will look up Maggie’s books, its because I’m always on the hunt for a new werewolf book. If you had written a quick note, it would have done the same thing. Her trailer actually disappointed me because I thought she wrote a YA kraken book, which would be freakin awesome.

    And I have a copy right law question about them. Is it ok to use music without paying for it for a book trailer? (Not pointing at anyone, I’m just curious.)

  14. 14
    Becky says:

    The only place I stumble across book trailers is here, and I’m already likely to look up a book or author if Sarah or Candy or a commenter make the book sound interesting, so no, book trailers in general don’t do much for me.

    However, I watched the trailer and then popped over to Amazon to send the sample for Shiver to my Kindle.  (As far as I can tell, the only one of her books that is available for the Kindle.)  So I guess the true answer is, book trailers have no impact on me as a reader, unless they’re interesting enough to be posted on SBTB.  And then they have to meet the second hurdle of piquing my interest.  It’s the combination of the trailer being shown to me by someone whose tastes I’m familiar with and then that trailer fitting my own tastes that works for me.  So, no more effective than an interesting review, except that the author has more control over the content.

  15. 15
    LiJuun says:

    I don’t usually like book trailers (seriously goofy things, aren’t they?), but I did enjoy this one.  But none come close to the awesomeness of the Mario Acevedo book trailer, which has prompted me to actually buy his books (although I’ve not had time to read them yet):


  16. 16
    LG says:

    I’d read a Kraken romance, just for the humor, lol.  In the meantime, I’ll have to try Shiver.

  17. 17
    Melissa Blue says:

    I have no patience. If I start to think “this is taking too long” I click out and move on. I am not the audience for book trailers. This was one was funny, I’ll give the author that, but would I have stuck around if ya’ll hadn’t wrote two posts about it? Not a chance.

  18. 18
    krsylu says:

    I’ve only watched book trailers you’ve linked to. What does that tell you?

  19. 19
    MamaNice says:

    Creative and effective!

    When I hear “kraken” I think of that cheesy monster from that 80’s movie Clash of the Titans…you know this dude:

  20. 20
    Tae says:

    I was also hoping for a Kraken romance and was a little disappointed when it wasn’t real.

    Marjorie Liu has a 1/2 Kraken in one of the Dirk & Steele books.

  21. 21
    Kate Jones says:

    Were Squid just made my night.

    Also, I think book trailers don’t usually work because they are purely artificial—showing partial clips of something for which there is no whole (they didn’t make a movie of the book, did they?) is just too much of a stretch.  Not to mention that static pictures with woozy animation and over-dramatic voice-over don’t cut it under any circumstances. 

    I think this worked because it was funny, cleverly delivered, and stood on its own.

  22. 22
    liz m says:

    Oh. My. Goodness.

    That Libba Bray link just sold me a book from a trailer for the first time ever. I don’t even care if the book sucks, I just want to pay her for those moments of awesome.

  23. 23
    andy becketh says:

    Very great story, the trailer gives us more knowledge ,ideas, and leanings. It is good to know that your internet t1 keep on posting meaningful stories.

  24. 24
    April says:

    If anything, book trailers tend to turn me off.  Maybe I would have thought about it if I ran into it on a shelf, but now that I have horrible swirly stock photography to associate with the title in my mind…

    I think the true genius in Maggie Steifvater’s video is that it feels like a direct connection to the author, sharing her sense of humor, etc. Instead of trying really hard to make it look as professional as possible (and still falling horribly short because btw those television commercials we all think of as the minimum standard still tend to cost the companies that make them tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars), she acknowledged that it wasn’t all that professional and had some fun with it. If you just add up the amusing parts and one liners in her video at face value, it’s a bit funny, but if she’d had oodles of cash and an agency to throw at it I think it would have gotten less funny.  Instead, the presentation made it more funny.  Which is genius.

    Because seriously “a fairy turns into a toaster.”  “No, uhm he just turned into a toaster… it was magical.”  No one around the water cooler tomorrow is going to understand why I’m chortling.

  25. 25
    Ellen says:

    Penny-arcade took on this very topic and not too long ago- here.

    I wonder if they saw this trailer…

  26. 26
    Jane O says:

    WHere on earth does one come across book trailers? (Just want to know where to avoid.)

  27. 27
    M. Nightingale says:

    The people who brought us Pride and Prejudice and Zombies have just released Sense and Sensibility and Sea Serpents.

    Speaking of kraken.

  28. 28
    M. Nightingale says:

    Oops, someone else already mentioned that. Scooped!

  29. 29

    Like you said in this post, if the trailer is different – if it’s creative and fun, then I’m definitely interested. Like this one! I have watched it three times and it makes me smile:


  30. 30
    Diana says:

    I’m not sure when I laughed harder – when the toast popped up or during the segment featuring Titanic music.

    This trailer worked for me because it was designed for people who READ. I don’t generally like videos for books. But the cue-cards where text, which appealed to my senses as a reader. Plus, they were really clever.

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