I was reading around the web this morning for book promotion advice and I once again saw the idea of making a “book trailer”—that is, a short video introducing the book, cast with characters from the book, featuring quotes from the book, etc.
I think this is the most ridiculous idea.
I’ve been to film school and there and elsewhere seen trailers for movies that don’t exist..as a way to promote the movie idea to producers.
How do you make a trailer for a movie that doesn’t exist? You can only do it horribly. A trailer editor has as its disposal all the footage shot for the film. It is the compression—or pulling from—all that footage that when done well makes an interesting preview. In my way of understanding a trailer, you can’t make a good one before the movie is shot. There’s no way to create the needed compression or sampling ratio without a large library of footage to pull from.
I have never in my life seen a beforehand preview that was good in any way.
But even more absurd is a book trailer. You’re creating footage for a project whose primary form—whose essence—is text. And this essential text may never inspire another form. A book may never become a movie.
And yet here on this web a book trailer is suggested as a good way to get people to read your book.
The suggestion is juvenile. It lacks understanding of what a book is and how it exists: as a block of text that must be read. It takes time to read. It can’t be sampled or shortened in a query letter or a book trailer. It can’t even be represented by its first page (which I suggest as a better query letter).
So I guess: have your book trailers. I won’t watch them and I won’t make them. I don’t think this is a quality of my age, but rather a matter of sense and nonsense. If my books are less read because of this, so be it. At least I’ll proceed with my head on straight.