Trailer trash

Remember when you hired a video and sat through all those trailers for other movies? Of course you don’t. You hit the fast-forward button like everyone else, only bothering to press play if something looked interesting (or if, miracle of miracles, the movie actually started). That’s the real reason they invented DVDs and Bly-Ray—to stop you skipping through the previews.

Anyway, you’ll know these trailers help “sell” a movie. (Hands up everyone who hired a movie after seeing one, only to realise the trailer showed the only good bits in the entire movie. Yeah, me too.) Well now they’re doing the same for books. That’s right: you can now watch a trailer for a book.

Now I don’t have a problem with the author appearing on screen and telling people how good their book is and why you should buy it. It’s always nice to meet the person behind the words, as Joanna Penn wrote in a recent article.

But for the love of whatever deity you happen to believe in, don’t dramatise the book.

A week or so ago I found out Gerry Boyle is writing another book in the Jack McMorrow series. Now I love that series, and so when I found out I went straight to his web site to find out more. And what did I find? A book trailer.

I clicked ‘play’, hoping to hear from Gerry himself. But then I saw what I presume were scenes from the book, and immediately hit the ‘back’ button.

This will be the ninth book in the series. I’ve read the other eight, and so I have a pretty clear picture in my mind about what everything (and everyone) looks like. Stephen King came up with the perfect name for it: skull cinema. So the last thing I need is to have someone telling me, “Actually, this is what it really looks like. Sorry, but you’ve had it wrong the whole time.”

It’s bad enough when you see a movie based on a book and everything’s different to how you imagined it. I don’t want the same thing happening before I even open the book.

So for those of you who think a video trailer is the perfect way to sell your book, think again. Some of like making up our own images of what everything looks like.

After all, it’s probably why we’re reading the book in the first place.

{ 5 comments… add one }
  • Anj (@1writergrrl) March 11, 2010, 3:54 am

    I couldn’t agree more! The ones I’ve seen have left me COLD, like I will definitely not be buying the book (unless the author came to me personally to ask me if I would). As a writer I feel a bit bad about it since I LOVE to support other authors. But dramatic music, flashes of people (as characters) and blurbs (sometimes streaming across the screen whilst being read) just don’t do it for me. Like you, Bill, I’d prefer to see a vid of the author talking about their book, their writing process, maybe a short reading…hell, anything but the naff trailer.

  • Jen March 11, 2010, 11:09 am

    I always watched the trailers. If I hired a video with only one or two I felt ripped off. I hate DVDs that don’t have trailers. It’s the first thing I look for. But it does drive me crazy when they give me a trailer for the movie on the DVD.

    Don’t really want to see trailers for books though. Don’t want to hear them. Don’t want to meet the author. I just want to read the blurb on the back of the book in the bookstore (which is a bit of a trailer in and of itself, I guess).

  • Russell Smith March 11, 2010, 8:24 pm

    The weird one I find – listening to audio books while travelling, and hearing the *real* pronounciation of characters and places. Its amazing how many times I mispronounce stuff in my mind.

    I re-read the Chronicles of Thomas Covenant last year, and reliased I had consistently misread the name of an important character in the series – for the last 25 years !

    Terrible when the outside world comes in late during a screening in skull cinema. Should be made to wait outside like all the other late comers.

  • Gerry Boyle April 3, 2010, 6:11 am

    Glad you like the Jack McMorrow novels. Sorry the DAMAGED GOODS video scared you off. If you go to the end you’ll find I do talk a lot about the book. Just me talking in very general way; no giving away the end.

    Interesting take on trailers (being a Luddite by nature, this was my first). Actually, the “scenes” are so brief that I thought they’d be intriguing without being representational. I may be wrong. Maybe the video should open with a warning. If so, it would probably be directed to McMorrow fans. The video is intended to snag new readers who will come away curious about the book, the characters, the series.

    In any event, I hope you read DAMAGED GOODS. It’s Jack McMorrow on a tear. If I do another video, I’ll keep your comments very much in mind.

    All best,



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