How important is having a book trailer for an indie author?


I had to ask myself this question, if only because the quality of some book trailers out there is akin to some mini Wes Anderson movie, complete with a full-blown cast and mood lighting and most probably a green room somewhere out back with a table full of donuts.

I do not have donuts.

I have a green room, but that’s mostly because I currently live in the Balinese jungle and there’s a lot of mould on my bathroom wall.

I put together my own book trailer on iMovie and went for the ‘honest’ approach (READ: poor man’s approach) but that’s not to say I would have spent money on a ‘professional’ one if I had it in my budget. How many people watch book trailers from indie authors, really? How many people watch book trailers at all, unless they’re for the next Harry Potter/Twilight book?

The answer is, some, actually. Some get thousands of hits! But you’ve got to be either pretty established, have a publisher behind you, or spend a fortune on marketing the hell out of it, as well as your actual book.

As indie authors we want a book trailer anyway because… well, we’re AUTHORS goddamit – we work hard and we want our work to be seen and we also want it set to music with Ryan Gosling as the lead, lounging on a feathered mattress as our female protagonist (OK, me) spoon-feeds him Nutella and whispers sweet nothings…

ENOUGH. Let’s focus. How important is a book trailer really? Well, it’s important because:

It improves your visibility in search results

Kind of. This actually only really works if you have really unique keywords. No one’s going to ‘discover’ your book through a YouTube link when it’s listed somewhere like Amazon or Goodreads because they will always rank higher in search engines and feature more keywords. But who knows – if you’re lucky enough to become a big author (sales-wise, not from sitting on a bed eating Nutella) people might actually search for your videos in YouTube itself.

It lets people know how awesome your book is.

Kind of. This actually only really works if it’s a highly professional (READ: expensive) trailer, because otherwise, it can make your book look a bit shit. Mine for example, could have made my book look a bit shit, but hopefully it doesn’t because I’m not sitting there reading from that book like a robot. I did that here instead (ahem). When you read from your book in a trailer it can make your words sound very bad. You’re a writer, not a performer. Let it go and hire Ryan. Or just buy 78-million tubs of Nutella – they cost the same.

Loads of people will share it and comment on it.

Hmm. Not so much. People rarely comment on book trailers and do you know why? It’s because people rarely bother to watch them. I mean, how often do YOU watch other book trailers? Mostly when you’re researching how to make your own, right? Exactly. And people don’t tend to share them either, because books are subject to personal opinion and chances are your mates won’t give a crap about your latest ‘amazing, must-be-read-vampire-crosses-teddy-bear-romance’ and even if they did, their WIFI might not load it very fast and oops… they’ve already scrolled right past that on your Facebook wall anyway. Life is short.

If you do want a trailer and can’t stand the thought of fiddling with iMovie and the like, there are people out there who can make you one for anything up to $2000 – $3000. Or, there’s a dude on Fiverr who can do it for… well, a Fiver. That’s about the cost of one of Ryan Gosling’s eyelashes.

Here’s my trailer anyway. I warned you.

2 thoughts on “How important is having a book trailer for an indie author?

  1. I think that’s a pretty good trailer, Becky, because it gives the reader a glimpse of you (like the Mom sex scenes part). I also believe if you can make a trailer affordably that’s not an absolutely train wreck, it can be a good thing on your blog or site, even if it only gets hundreds of views. I made one, totally not professional but was fun to do and free, though I donated some cash for the music. Think it’s sold a few books. Not sure if I can post it here, hope it’s OK.

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