We've all seen movie trailers, those short videos used to advertise movies in television ads, at the cinema and on the Internet.
But book trailers?
As authors look for new ways to promote their books, more are turning to book trailers that they can post on websites, YouTube and social media sites such as Facebook.
"It's an engaging new way to promote a book," said Ashland Creek Press Co-Founder and Editor Midge Raymond.
But she noted that book trailers can be difficult to create since books are based on written words, and videos are about visual images and sounds.
Raymond, who is also an author, created a book trailer for her short story collection "Forgetting English." The trailer also promotes "The Tourist Trail," a book by her husband and Ashland Creek Press partner, John Yunker.
Rather than being a straightforward ad for the two books, the couple's video pokes fun at the tendency of authors to obsessively check their Amazon.com sales rankings. In the video, Raymond explains how she has secretly been buying her husband's books to boost his sales statistics.
"It's worth it to see him in such a good mood. He'll do the dishes without complaining," Raymond says in the trailer, which can be seen on YouTube under the title "We need to talk about your Amazon sales ranking ..."
Raymond and Yunker shot the book trailer themselves with Yunker's iPhone and used video editing software they already owned.
Raymond said authors who are thinking of creating book trailers shouldn't spend anything but time on the new promotional tools. She said she and her husband saw only a slight uptick in sales after creating their book trailer, and she has found no statistics to show a correlation between book trailers and significant increases in book sales.
Authors are much better off with more tried-and-true tactics, like sending out book copies to reviewers, she said.
A badly done book trailer can actually turn off potential readers, she warned.
"If it's not engaging and interesting, it could backfire," Raymond said.
The annual Moby Awards for book trailers honor creative videos but also put poorly done, cheesy or melodramatic book trailers in the crosshairs.
In 2011, "Pirates: The Midnight Passage" by James R. Hannibal won a Moby worst small publishing house award for a book trailer. A person playing a pirate in the video uses a pirate accent that is so stereotypical it makes the book trailer sound like a spoof.
On the other hand, the Moby Awards praised the book trailer for "Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void" by Mary Roach. The trailer depicts 1960s space agency experiments on minimal personal hygiene. Two unlucky human subjects confined inside space suits are banned from bathing. Scientists report that body odors reach their maximum 10 days into the experiment.
With more than 84,000 views on YouTube, Author Dennis Cass has achieved a cult following for his book trailer titled "Book Launch 2.0." The trailer doesn't even mention the book he wrote, but instead shows Cass talking on the phone to his publisher about what he's doing to promote "Head Case: How I Almost Lost My Mind Trying to Understand My Brain."
In the video, Cass admits no one has reviewed the book and he refuses to go on a book tour, has no readers for his blog, has a MySpace page with only one friend, has no website and thought his book couldn't have a Facebook page because it has no face.
When his publisher suggests he make a book trailer and post it online, Cass hits the nail on the head about the contradiction between the writing life and creating marketing videos.
"YouTube? Of course. 'Cause that's the dream, right? Twenty years ago when I wanted to become a writer, a big part of the dream was being able to put little videos on the Internet. That's it," he says. "That's why we do this."
Staff reporter Vickie Aldous can be reached at 541-479-8199 or firstname.lastname@example.org.