Here I am, ready to continue my exploration of book trailers used to sell e-books. Do trailers work? If they do, what makes a book trailer effective? If they don’t, what makes them ineffective?
How did I select this book trailer to use as an example?
Well, with the first trailer I looked at I went through sales figures in the Kindle bookstore and selected a title from the top 50 in the paid bookstore. The title I selected was Brad Thor’s Black List. It turned out, however, that the trailer had only been viewed by around 600 people, so couldn’t have impacted much on the best seller’s sales statistics.
This time, I reversed the process and selected a trailer based on views on YouTube and then checked to see how it was selling in the Kindle Store.
Today’s trailer is for the novel, Before I Fall:
Before I Fall, written by Lauren Oliver
Before I Fall is written for the YA market, however, current research indicates that in e-books there’s really no separation between what adults and young adults are reading. Everybody is reading YA these days: http://paidcontent.org/2012/05/04/why-are-kids-e-book-sales-surging-partly-because-adults-are-reading-them/
This was author Lauren Oliver’s first novel, released in March of 2010, two-and-a-half years ago. It was, however, the first in a long run as she now has four additional–very popular I might add–titles, including Pandemonium, which was the Best of the Month in Young Adult spotlight pick for March 2012 by Amazon’s editors (now, if you’d like good sales, this is a major contributor!).
All of Oliver’s titles are published with the traditional publishing house, HarperCollins Publishers, so the trailer and other promotional material have had a higher production budget than many indie authors can afford.
But, in looking at Oliver’s personal self-promotion tools, I noted that her website, http://www.laurenoliverbooks.com/, has an Alexa rank of over 2 million, which is good but not great. On Twitter, she has a healthy following of more than 15,000 – https://twitter.com/OliverBooks Finally, her Facebook fan page has 829 subscribers – http://www.facebook.com/laurenoliverbooks, which is quite modest.
Dissecting the trailer for Before I Fall
The book trailer for Before I Fall features a young woman’s life on fast-forward showing numerous images of things a typical young adult does–the speeding images are accompanied by a very professional female voice (an actress or professional?) giving a brief prologue to her own story, since she’s speaking as the main character. And then we find out she’s dead about 35 seconds into the 1:23 minute video.
Would you do anything different if you could? asks the main character, speaking directly to the listener, prodding for memories. Then, she answers her own question saying she would.
Our final image in the video is the book cover and publishing information, which appears at the 1:10 mark of the 1:23 video and stays onscreen for 13 seconds with no voice over.
Did the trailer work?
Yes, the trailer worked for me. In one minute I have an idea of exactly who the main character is, what her problem is, and the conflict she faces in the novel. I know I’ll be able to relate to her as everyone has things they’d change–even if they’re just small things–given the chance. Those things appeal to the “young” reader in me, while the exploration of what happens after death and the question of can we get second chances, draws me in as a mature reader.
The technique of using photo images, often blurred and hurtling by, acted rather like memory, so I found it to be more effective than a single scene or two of the main character would have been. I felt it also made the main character seem more three-dimensional before I’d even begun the book, because I’d observed her in so many different times and places.
Was there a relationship between the trailer and sales?
The trailer had been viewed 88,000+ times when I examined it for this post. Before I Fall was listed in the Kindle store today as selling at position 3746 in the paid Kindle store; #16 in Kindle children’s books on friendship; #29 (general booksales) on children’s social situations and #30 in Kindle sales on children’s social situations.
I do need to note that the novel has accumulated an amazingly long list of accolades, reviews, and awards, so already has a very visible presence without a trailer.
However, yes, I’d still estimate that this trailer had some impact on sales.