Thursday, September 18, 2008

Michael Connelly's new book trailer--interesting stuff!

Book trailers are getting better.
Take a look at this one about Michael Connelly's new book.

There are three parts. Part one is brilliant.
Parts two and three are the more normal trailer format.

The question of course is: are these trailers effective in boosting sales?
My answer is yes and no.

Would I buy and read Michael Connelly's The Brass Verdict if I had not seen these?
Probably. I'm a long time fan of his work, and I liked The Lincoln Lawyer a lot (The Brass Verdict brings back the character from that novel).

But, I'm not sure I would have been aware that it's being pubbed soon, October 14, as I am now, after seeing, and liking these trailers. So yes, they are effective for pulling established fans in early.

Would it entice me to buy the book if I wasn't a fan already? I don't know.

What I do know is there's a big opportunity here for smart people who know how to put together compelling video trailers for not a lot of money.

The only problem in these well produced, big name star featured trailers is they will effectively eliminate most of the home made book trailers.

I think we're going to be needing those services a lot more every year. And if you do that kind of work, hell yes I want to hear from you. Please feel free to email me! I'll be the one reading The Brass Verdict on my Kindle!


Lucas Darr said...

I feel the increase use of a professional book trailer is a net win/win. Many people are still unaware of book trailers. The professionalism of this one eventually bootstraps the quality of the ones following it. At the end of the line would be fan created videos for novels at the same level of quality, a viral buzz of marketing yumminess.

That book trailer was pure awesomesauce. The oppressiveness of the photography conjured up the image of a book. Now I am really interested, while prior I had read nothing of the author. WIN.

ryan field said...

I think these things can only help...if done right.

Haste yee back ;-) said...

Janet & JoAnna,

I'm way off topic here, not even twelve hectares close, but...

I was going to Wichita. IKE said no!

Do y'all have any reason to consider a foray to Houston, (wait a while), or, Austin, Dallas anytime soon?

Haste yee back ;-)

Stuart Neville said...

I think one of the most interesting possibilities for book trailers is to give fledgling film makers a crack at a small-scale adaptation. My own trailer ( is the more traditional graphics'n'captions idea, but I've seen a few of these more dramatic trailers now, usually from the heavyweights. It wouldn't necessarily take a huge amount of cash to pull together a young and hungry film student and few jobbing actors to make a decent dramatic trailer. Another advantage could be that it lets Hollywood see your book's screen potential.

Karen Duvall said...

The only problem in these well produced, big name star featured trailers is they will effectively eliminate most of the home made book trailers.

Oh, God, I hope so. Man, those home made trailers are akin to home movies and equally boring. The only folks who like them are the authors themselves.

Have you seen the ones at Now those are really different. Extremely creative with stills, animation, video, music and voice-over.

Anonymous said...

Clearly the execution (har har) of the first trailer is a cut above, but what's the draw otherwise - what new readers will be pulled in? Seems to me there's a lot of reliance here on name-dropping Mickey Whatsisname, Harry Bosch, and of course Connelly. Is that effective if you're not already a fan?

I would have combined Trailers 1 and 3 for a setup with more generic appeal: When a defense attorney is shot in cold blood, Mickey Whatsisname steps in. First problem: the prosecutor is his archrival. Second problem: he's next on the hit list.

Lucas Darr said...


I ran screaming from the Mystery & Thrillers genres long ago, and now I am interested enough to read his old stuff to see if I want to read his new stuff.

Why? I do not rightly know. It hada stylistic sense of atmosphere that appealed to me.

It worked for me for attracting a new reader, and I am picky picky picky for that genre.

Eric said...

I was rather unimpressed. If I didn't already know Connelly's books, it wouldn't have done anything for me. My favorite book trailer so far is Christa Faust's trailer for her book "Money Shot."

She did it for something under a hundred bucks. Most of the high-priced trailers I've seen that have been paid for by publishing companies have lacked a certain je ne sais quois (Okay, so I can't spell French, so sue me.) They've been too slick.

I still don't know how useful they are, or not. They can't hurt, so long as you either don't spend much money on them or you're doing them on someone else's dime.

Karen said...

Would I buy a movie ticked and watch a movie based on the trailer? Maybe, but I'd need a bit more to go on. A trailer like this doesn't show how good the book is going to be, it just shows how good the trailer maker is.

Would I buy a book and read it, based on a book trailer like this? No. I need to see words on a page. Over the past 12 months I have bought a lot of books by authors I discovered on the web. Authors who posted the first (usually) three chapters of their novel, and it interested me enough to put down the money. I have found some great authors that way.

But book trailers, no.

Jonathan E. Quist said...

I have been thinking about these for a while, on the assumption that I'll actually need a trailer in about a year.

I have seen some that were hideous.
I have seen others that were interesting to me as a fan of the author, but which would not have induced me to read the book. I think going Hollywood is necessary, to make it worth the effort.

Take a look at theatrical trailers of today, vs. 25 and 50 years ago. Many older trailers were dry enough to constitute a wildfire hazard. Current theatrical campaigns include a short teaser trailer, followed by one or more longer trailers.

We need to aim at the teaser. If you can sell someone on your story in 20 seconds - capture someone's interest enough that they want to be sure to catch the theatrical release in 8 months, then you've got 10 seconds to mention that, oh, by the way, this is about a book, not a movie. Why not target a film-oriented audience?

I don't think it's necessary to have a big budget to get professional results. Certainly, it's easier to hire a pro, but if you're willing to invest the time and effort, it is possible to get in the same neighborhood as the Connelly trailer. (Well, okay, he'll have the biggest house on the block, and I'll have the little cottage with the oil-stained driveway.) But there is no excuse for anyone's home-made trailer to look like one of Uncle Fred's vacation slide shows.

Anonymous said...

Anthony writes:

... I am interested enough to read his old stuff ... It worked for me for attracting a new reader ...

Well I can't argue with that - the proof's in the pudding! The older Harry Bosch books are all solid. I also recommend Void Moon, a standalone.

Tena Russ said...

My thought is that a trailer might be effective if it's on a well-known author's website; otherwise it sounds like a lot of money spent for questionable results. I'm not sure I understand the need for one. Maybe they're entertaining, but beyond that... I dunno.

John Arkwright said...

Part 2 is got my attention. I felt like I had seen Part 1 a hundred times. Part 3 was . . . ehn.

I, too, loved The Lincoln Lawyer. I could do without Harry Bosch in this book, though--having Haller and Bosch team up is too cute for me. The "realistic" legal hustler, Haller, is plenty of entertainment for me.

Bill Cameron said...

I'd be concerned that this only widens the gap between the haves and the have-nots in terms of marketing dollars. Simple, effective trailers can be done for little or no money, but if the expectation starts to be increasingly for production value, then the authors who are able to meet the expectation will increasingly be the ones who are already having marketing dollars thrown at them, or who have already established a large enough audience that they can afford to pay for high-production value trailers.

The midlist is already pretty much on its own, gasping for marketing air in a crowded market. No money, little support, and now fancy-pants trailers come along to fight against. In the end, I guess if publishers think these things actually sell books (on which, like everything else in book marketing, there are no reliable metrics) then they need to pony up. Otherwise, frankly, I hope book trailers die before they take hold.

Terrill Lee Lankford said...

Hello, everyone. Terrill Lankford here. I've been making these video projects with Michael Connelly for about five years now. (You can see many more of them by putting Michael's name in the youTube search engine.) It's been very interesting to read your various comments - both pro and con.

I think what Conduit said was very astute and it could go far to ease some of the concerns Bill Cameron and others seem to have. In the right hands these projects do not have to cost a lot of money. With video technology getting cheaper and cheaper every day, creativity is more important than money when it comes to making these promos. You can make your own with a very inexpensive camera and cut it right on your own computer with whatever editing system it came with or you can find an enterprising filmmaker who just wants to create something that can also function as a calling card for their work as well as yours who will do the job on the cheap.

A few of you stated these promos were overly slick. It may interest you to know that the publisher specifically said we should make them loose and funky - not slick at all. So we didn't sweat the small stuff while making them and I thought we were turning out a fairly crude product compared to what was possible. I guess it's good now that we put a rush on things. But it just goes to show you how easy making a promo can be.

And there's certainly no reason to think making video promos will become a mandatory cost for authors. No more than print ads are today. They are simply another tool that authors can use to try to widen their audiences. They can be created for far less money than an ad costs and they have much longer shelf lives. The right one can generate publicity all on its own. Over the years we have had a number of articles written about the promos themselves. That won't happen just because you take an ad out in the NYT.

I have no idea how effective these promos are when it comes to increased sales, but at least it looks like we got Anthony on board, so there's some success right there. We also do it to give back to the fans and we hope the promos are fun and entertaining - even for the people who would buy the books anyway. They are not strictly sales tools. We try to do something different each time out. Most people we talk to seem to like them. And since Michael can't tour every town in the world, for some people this is the only way they get to hear and see him talk about the books.

So don't fear the concept of the video promo. Embrace it and use it for your own purposes. Or ignore it altogether. It won't make or break you either way.

Good luck with your books!