I wanted a book trailer for Hagridden. I don’t know what good they do, really, and I might not have really worried about it at all, but just about the time my publisher and I were going over the initial proof of my novel, I saw the trailer for Leesa Cross-Smith’s Every Kiss a War. And holy shit, that’s a good trailer!
So of course the wheels started spinning and I decided a book trailer for Hagridden could be pretty cool.
It’s a risky move, frankly. A lot of people don’t use them, and with good reason: they don’t seem to do much in terms of selling books. I knew that from my research, and my publisher said pretty much the same thing. It’s not that trailers aren’t cool; it’s just that, in terms of return-on-investment, they’re not really worth the money.
But I kept watching that EKAW clip, and it’s just so damned good! So I was itching to take a crack at this thing, and I decided to start shopping around for media firms who make trailers, figuring I’d pay for it out of my own pocket.
But gang, trailers are expensive.
I looked at maybe two dozen places, and for a one-minute trailer, the prices I saw ranged from $300 for a static image and some generic music (n0t even a voice-over) to almost $3,000 for a slick, professional video tantamount to a short film. (I don’t know what Cross-Smith’s trailer cost, but it must have been on the upper end, because it’s better than most of the samples I saw on the pros’ websites.)
I spent a few weeks balancing price against quality, trying to find the best value, but eventually I realized that anything I could afford was going to look like I could afford it — meaning, not that great. And the kind of trailer I really wanted would almost certainly never pay for itself — it was (barely) doable, but not at all cost-effective.
But before I gave up on the trailer, I decided to scribble down my ideas just to see what they looked like on paper, in thumbnail sketches, and the more I tinkered, the more I wanted to see some version of this on a screen. And that’s when I remembered: I have iMovie on my Mac.
So I figured, what the hell. Since the book trailer was going to be an outside shot anyway and I was really only doing it because I wanted to see one, I decided I might as well just make one myself. Just to see those thumbnail sketches made real.
So I made one.
I think it’s pretty obvious this is my own work, and not the work of a pro, but honestly, I could have spent a few hundred bucks and wound up with something about this good. Granted, it doesn’t hold a candle — or even a match — to the Every Kiss a War trailer, or to some of the really fine professional trailers I saw on the upper ends of the price range. But mine was free. (Well, free minus the hours and hours and hours I spent working on it the past couple of weeks. But basically free.) Which means that if it convinces just one person to buy the book, it’s a heck of a return on my investment! And if it doesn’t do anything at all, it was still cool to make.
So, short version: Book trailers really don’t seem to be worth it, at least for most authors, but damn it, I love them anyway, and sometimes they are worth it, and mine was worth making just for the experience of making it.
(And I hope it makes you curious enough to buy my book in August.)