Should authors star in their own book trailers?

Small Blue Dog Publishing I’ve just read an excellent blog post by  Belinda Pollard on the subject of book trailers and whether authors should star in trailers about their books. Belinda says no, or at least only under exceptional circumstances.  If you are a writer and thinking about making a book trailer, you’ll find her post really helpful:

Meanwhile, here is one of the book trailer exceptions from her post. In it author Max Barry talks about his book, Machine Man. It’s worth a watch!

And here’s another exception. In this one author Bill Dare talks about his book Brian Gulliver’s Travels. It’s also worth a watch 🙂

So, what do you think of authors appearing in their own book trailers? Would the above trailers make you buy the book? Do you know of any other books trailers where the author has a starring role? Did you like it?

Whether you are a writer or a reader, as always, I’d love to hear from you 🙂


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14 Responses to Should authors star in their own book trailers?

  1. Wendy Clarke says:

    Well they are both the funniest things I’ve see in a while which goes to show that if you are a) naturally funny b)look interesting or c) have flexible eyebrows then maybe featuring in your own book trailer is the way to go (these will probably only work, though, if you are promoting a humorous book.) Of course, just because you are a writer doesn’t mean you’ll come over well on film as you might have a) an odd face b) and odd manner 0r c) an odd voice (although of course these would also work well for a humorous book.)

  2. They are funny, aren’t they ;o) Yep, absolutely, it’s all well and good if you’re a performer and/or a natural in front of the camera but if you’re not, well, maybe we should do as Belinda advises and NOT feature in our own book trailers. And, I suppose the same probably applies to video blogging, which I believe is the next big thing. You have a great blog, Wendy, can you ever see yourself doing a video blog – or vlog?!- instead?

    • Wendy Clarke says:

      You should have seen me at the Woman’s Weekly fiction Workshop. We had to read out 3 sentences in front of the other 29 people – I thought I was going to have a heart attack waiting for my turn. I’m happy speaking out in front of children (luckily as I was a teacher!) but adults are a different thing. Of course I’m being stupid, aren’t I, as on a video blog you don’t see the people so maybe it would be ok – except that I would hate the way I looked and sounded. (I have a video of the speech I made at my wedding three years ago and I think I sound like Joyce Grenville!)

      • Ha ha ha 🙂 I think being filmed can be as stressful as being in front of a crowd/ group because any quirks/mistakes will be recorded forever, warts and all. And how was the Woman’s Weekly fiction Workshop? Was it helpful? And was it free? Wait a minute, I’ll go to your blog now and read all about it – and ask any questions there 🙂

  3. Ruth Hunt says:

    Hello Marianne,
    I really had to turn the first one off. You can probably understand why!!
    They were both very funny, but if the book trailer is like a vlog to tell us about the actual book, neither trailer really wetted my appetite. So I think there needs to be something that catches people’s attention and makes them interested in the book, so eyebrow dancing and a maybe a few more lines about the actual book.
    I know Bill Dare does some shows on Radio Four so I think if you are known and a natural performer things like this may come easier.
    Good blog post from Small Blue Dog Publishing and funny video’s!
    Just what I needed (apart from the electric saw)

  4. Ruth F Hunt says:

    Hi Marianne,
    Yes I think you could be right, and if something like the eyebrow dancing video started to be trending then it could introduce new readers to the book.If it helps then why not? I would pay an out of work actor/actress though, I am terrible in front of the camera. I had to do a short piece for the charity where I work and oh boy, never again!
    Thanks for the link.

    • I think making a trailer should be fun. I know we enjoyed making the Food of Ghosts one. That said, I’m not sure I could do a fun trailer for The Blue Suitcase, hm? Different books, I suppose have to be approached differently and the more outside help, the better. I know what you mean about being in front of a camera, though, I can’t even get a photo of me where I’m not squinting or looking demented, never mind a film 😉

  5. John Gray says:

    Hello Marianne
    I believe that a trailer should say more about the book and less about the author. I came across the following trailer which must have cost a lot of money to produce Lovely to watch but would it make me buy the book? I will probably remember it and pick it up if I see it in a bookshop. May even buy it if I can find out what it is about.

    • Thanks for the link to the book trailer.Wow! What an amazing trailer. Yes, it must have cost a fortune it make. You’re right, though, it’s not that clear what it’s about. An epic journey? It seems to get more and more sinister as the film goes on … But what an incredible amount of views. I wonder how many books it sold? Thanks again for the link 🙂

  6. Louisa says:

    Fascinating post, Marianne! And thanks for the link to Belinda’s site. I agree with some of the others that while I often enjoy book trailers for entertainment value, they don’t always make me want to purchase the book — I suppose it’s like reading the back of the book, it may sound great, but it has to be something you’re interested in reading! That being said, I really liked the first trailer Belinda pointed out — the memoir-style one with the doctor — because he was the narrator. His story sounds really interesting, and he seemed very sincere. Of course, he’s a public speaker, so that probably helps! I think, for fiction, especially serious stuff, maybe using actors is best, as they can really portray emotion well…

    • Yes, maybe it’s okay for an author to be in their own book trailer when the book is actually about the author – assuming the author can act/speak well etc. Overall, I don’t have anything against authors being in their own book trailers, but I won’t buy a book if even if it’s a brilliant trailer, if it’s not my kind of book. The Going West trailer (by Maurice Gee) which was the book in the trailer John sent, has over a million views but the book doesn’t appeal to me – on the other hand, I have now heard of Maurice Gee and after looking him up he’s now on my radar ( so to speak!).
      Thanks for comment 🙂

  7. Hi Marianne, missed this one because I was at the beach in my caravan!

    Thanks for mentioning my post. 🙂 I probably wasn’t clear enough in my post that I do think trailer appearances by authors can be valid in non-fiction, but it’s rare they’ll work for a novel! (and of course, the author in question has to be able to present well onscreen in either case…)

    I love Bill Dare’s dancing eyebrows. 😉 But then, it all depends on one’s sense of humour, does it not???

    That Maurice Gee trailer was fascinating and yet didn’t promote the book to me. The animation had me so bewitched that I couldn’t take in what the narrator was reading. Perhaps its aim was more to promote NZ books in general, the idea of things coming to life off the printed page. It was probably successful at that, and I’m sure he’s garnered a few new readers from it, just because of the sheer number of views it’s had!

    I found this on the NZ book council site:
    A New Zealand Book Council short film, featuring an excerpt from Maurice Gee’s novel Going West, has recently been awarded an international prize for paper cut animation by New York’s Museum of Art and Design. The animation won the Museum’s Choice grand prize award at Moving Paper, an international film festival of cut paper animation held at the museum in March. In addition, the film has also won two Axis Gold awards, in the Charity category and the Art Direction & Typography category. Launched last November, the Going West film quickly became a YouTube hit and reached the worldwide top 10 in the viral video charts. The two-minute film was produced for the Book Council by Colenso BBDO, who worked with Andersen M Studios in London to develop a concept that would show Gee’s classic New Zealand novel coming to life through hand-cut ‘pop-up’ scenery springing up from the pages. It was viewed online more than 725,000 times, inspired more than 3400 tweets on Twitter or blog posts worldwide, and reached number 8 in the Viral Video Chart compiled by Unruly Media.

    I guess we’d all love to “go viral”… So we need to sit back and wait for our trailers to be picked up by the internet fairies! 😀

  8. hello Belinda! No apologies necessary 🙂

    I think you were clear and I do agree with you. An author appearing in a trailer of his or her own non-fiction book, can lend authority to the trailer ( he or she is the expert in that field, after all). But in fiction, finally, I think the author should be invisible just as they should be in the book itself.

    Thanks for the background to the Maurice Gee trailer. Fascinating. Getting the Moving Paper prize for cut paper animation must have helped bring the trailer to the attention of the world but the viral thing – wow! It really does seem to be in the hands of those internet fairies. I’m sitting back and waiting ;o)

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