With all the fanfare for the new trailer for The Dark Knight Rises, I got to thinking about how no one, absolutely no one gets excited about the release of a book trailer. Why are they so awful and tedious and boring? Why can’t they be as exciting as film trailers? Is an awesome book trailer even possible?
After much laborious research, I’ve concluded that most book trailersconsist of strung together still images (many of which are abhorrently generic) accompanied by emotional music, bad graphics, and clichéd text, plus some blurbs. There is also the author-interview approach, the ignore-the-book-entirely approach (better than most, as we shall see), the blurb onslaught. There is a whole lot of footage of graphics being drawn.
Movie trailers, regardless of how bad they are, provide a sense of a different world; they offer a peek at something you can escape into. Book trailers, for the most part, don't. Certainly there are budgetary restraints, but that’s not the only reason book trailers aren't like movie trailers. Reading is a vastly different experience from watching a film—and while seeing clips of a movie gives you a taste of that movie, seeing a book trailer can only attempt to translate an experience that might someday exist in the reader’s imagination. A successful book trailer should make you want to read the book, not watch a movie of the book.
So how do we do that?
I say book trailers should not address content in any way. They should be sleek, vibrantly edited montages of soft-core porn interspersed with the book’s cover. Maybe clips from an interview where the author says, "Yeah, I’ll tell you what writing this novel was like. It was like *^%ing your sister with a *&^," and then throws a bottle at the camera. Then show the cover of the book again. The point is to get the most eyes to see the cover, to know the title. Maybe we’re in a field where unicorns are eating the grass and it’s super cute and kind of sexy and then the camera zooms in and we see that the unicorns are really eating the book!
Whatever you do, don’t tell me about the fucking book. The book will tell me about the book.
That said, I did come across some pretty impressive book-related film content. I suppose, if soft-core and unicorns and violence aren’t your thing,Electric Literature can show you how good book trailers could be. Now if only Dan LaFontaine were still with us.