7 Reasons This Is A Great Book Trailer

There is much discussion on whether book trailers are a good idea, and whether they actually work for selling books, either fiction or non-fiction. I am firmly on the side of thinking that a good book trailer is great marketing. This one, by creative entrepreneur Jonathan Fields, is another great example. Watch the video and then read my 7 reasons why it’s a stand-out example below.

  • It’s polarizing. I’m betting you either loved or you hated that video. Some of you would have turned it off quickly and others would have watched until the very end, hanging on every word. Much of today’s marketing is about creating tribes and is as much about turning off the wrong people as attracting the right people. When I made my book trailer, I really thought that the people who liked it would like my novel – and Jonathan’s does the same. You should know within seconds whether you want this book or not.
  • About the author, not the book. I think this works for non-fiction especially, and in this video, you get a real sense of who Jonathan is, what his values are and how they relate to the book. His credentials are the risks he has personally taken under uncertain circumstances so you know he is qualified to write this book. I also think video is amazing if authors would only embrace it. So many of us hide behind screens and words, but people want to connect with people and video is a great way to connect.
  • Engages emotion. Jonathan talks about the aftermath of 9/11, given that he started his business the day before but realizing that we only have one shot. He uses his personal emotion in the video and whether you like it or not, it is honest. I have been reading Jonathan’s blog for quite a while now and vouch for him as a sincere person i.e. this is not just about marketing.
  • The trailer itself tells a story. We go down to the depths of uncertainty and then the video changes key and we start on the journey out the other side. The downside of uncertainty but then the resurgence and success afterwards. Risk-taking and then the rewards to come. You can actually learn something from the video itself.
  • Use of quotes from well-known people. A good quote from Steve Pressfield who wrote The War of Art (a must-read) is a brilliant touch – getting those blurbs is a great way of showing social proof. Those blurbs must be targeted though, they must relate to your niche and this is an excellent match.
  • Teaser marketing. The book isn’t out yet but the trailer builds expectation and excitement about what’s coming. Jonathan talks about his passion for seeking out uncertainty in order to fuel creation – that is an interesting topic for any us involved in creative work. The video teases us as it outlines some big ideas but we have to wait for the big reveal in the book.
  • Call to action. Are you ready to embrace your potential? This is the question at the end of the video and if you made it that far, I bet you are saying ‘yes’. Getting the first ‘yes’ is one of the important steps in the sales process so this is a great way to finish the video off.

I also like the soft music, the focus on Jonathan’s face instead of graphics and words shooting across the screen – it communicates calm which I think is part of Jonathan’s rather zen brand (he did run a yoga business!).

You can watch the video and engage with the book as more emerges at TheUncertaintyBook.com and you can also find Jonathan at his blog JonathanFields.com and on twitter @jonathanfields

You can also pre-order at Amazon.com and other online bookstores.

Did you like this book trailer? What engaged you or turned you off about it, and how can you use that in your own marketing?

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  1. says

    Great trailer! Very well done.

    And NO, those aren’t tears in my eyes from the part about the 2 1/2 year old with a book in his lap waiting for his daddy.
    Just dust.

    This trailer works PERFECTLY for this book. I think it might be tougher to pull off a similar sort of super personal video for a fiction book. Tougher, but not impossible. We are writers, so we ought to be able to tell our own stories, right?

    • says

      Hi David – absolutely, I don’t think fiction trailers would work like this – BUT/ I do think authors of fiction can use personal video to connect with people e.g. talk about the inspirations for their writing. I shall personally be trying this soon on a new blog :)

  2. says

    WOW. This IS a great trailer. I cried watching it! And fabulous timing, because I’m reading his Career Renegade right now! Because of this post, I will buy his next book.

    Also, love that you point out that he released this trailer *before* his book release. Taking note for when I do my own trailer!

  3. says

    I am one of those people who had a negative reaction and stopped viewing after 10 to 15 seconds into the video. After reading your post, I decided to give it another chance and watched the entire trailer. On the positive side, production quality is excellent and the narrative a bit more compelling than I initially expected. However, I was not inspired to purchase his book and my gut level response is still predominantly negative.

    One of the problems I have with this kind of trailer is that I would have never initially guessed it was a book trailer without your presentation of it as such on your website. I suspect the decision to begin his narrative without identifying it as a book trailer was based on aesthetic rather than marketing considerations. It reminded me of so many commercials I have watched or listen to and then ask myself, what was it they were selling? I also found it a bit too melodramatic.

    This all comes at a time when we are producing several book trailers ourselves and has given considerable pause for thought. Thanks again for another excellent post.

  4. says

    I was a bit negative on it to, I started to watch and found myself opening other pages and getting distracted because it didn’t hopd my attention and I am a very visual person.

  5. says

    Hi, Joanna. Thank for this post. The timing is perfect. I am working with a production company to create a video for 2nd edition publication of “Princess Shayna’s Invisible Visible Gift”, which is the children’s fairy tale version of my “What Color Is Your Brain?” book. I always appreciate your thoughtful and thought-provoking posts.

  6. says

    When I first started reading this post, I was thinking “cool… I can leave a comment and plug my book trailer site…” and then I watched the trailer and was blown away. It really did cause me to well up. This is probably the best trailer I’ve seen, which is strange for me to admit as I usually go for spooky, action-packed, ghosts, vampires and all that stuff.
    Jonathan comes across as being the nicest guy … I’m going to check out his site and no doubt I’ll be adding his book, Uncertainty, to my TBR list.
    Thanks, Joanna. I always look forward to receiving your newsletters in my inbox as they are full of great advice for writers like me.
    Suzy Turner, Author of The Raven Saga
    (okay, okay… the trailer sites are http://yatrailerpark.com and http://chicklittrailerpark.blogspot.com)

    • Karen Inglis says

      Hi Joanna

      This is really lovely production and Jonathan seems like a lovely guy – but I didn’t realise it was about a book! At first I thought it was about a yoga studio and then about a children’s book he had written…I’m on a 2nd listen now and it’s only almost at 3 minutes that I’ve been told it’s a book. I think this would have worked better with the book mentioned up front and then the story told afterwards… and it could still have retained the unique atmosphere which, I agree, makes this video stand out…

      However, it looks as if I am in the minority here! K


  7. says

    I liked it. The story was powerful because of the loss described, and to me, it made him look like a nice person who cares about people and where their lives are going, not just a razzle dazzle marketer after my dollars. It would certainly make me want to check out his website and Twitter feed.

    But I seriously question this practice of putting out book trailers before the book is available. Perhaps I have undiagnosed ADHD 😉 but if I was going to buy this book it would probably be NOW. I’ll be thinking about something else tomorrow. *blushes*

    • says

      Hi Belinda – the book isn’t out but it can be pre-ordered on Amazon – so there is a way to act now. Plus of course, book trailers stand the test of time and keep on selling…

  8. Kannan says

    I think different people have different tastes. I agree it’s a well made video. But is it a great book trailer video? Not for me.

    A good book trailer in my humble opinion has to be short (less than 2 minutes), to the point and attention grabbing. This video was just too long (to be a trailer), and I found myself getting bored in the first 10-15 seconds of the video. I really didn’t feel like wanting to finish watching the video after that. Like some others have pointed out above, the author gives no indication in the first parts of the video that he is talking about a book. Perhaps this may be the right style for some. But perhaps not for everyone. My best wishes to the author of that book!

  9. says

    Loved the trailer, the music, the personal connection he makes with the viewer, but I didn’t realize it for a book, either, except for you saying it was…til the end of course. It did make me want to buy the book and I will. Thanks, Joanna

  10. says

    Add me to the list of folks “not in the tribe”. Here are the reasons I switched off after 10 seconds (although I tried to watch it, honestly):

    1. I don’t like folks showing themselves off. Show me the book, not yourself. If I read the book and like it, I’ll be interested in you, not the other way around.

    2. I’m a corporate cynic, and the video immediately invoked my corporate cynicism. Too many sellers are trying to go touch-feely to “connect to the hearts of consumers” and sell.

    3. LONG. Over 3 minutes of a guy talking at me about himself? Bye.

    I can go on. See, I can be polarizing, too :) because being polarizing isn’t difficult. Finding true ways to connect, on the other hand, is.

  11. says

    What a powerful and compelling book trailer… love that he shares his story- not the book. It draws you right in and makes you want to never let fear get in the way again- as well as run right out and get the book!
    Thanks for sharing this, Joanna- it will absolutely help me when I do a trailer for my new nonfiction book…. and I’m excited to give it a shot!

  12. says

    “So many of us hide behind screens and words, but people want to connect with people and video is a great way to connect.” – I agree with you on this idea. Often, readers would buy a book because they can find answers, especially with nonfiction, and the people who write the book are deemed as the experts in this field. So basically, they would want to connect with the people behind the book and look for more answers than simply relying on what the paper tell them.

  13. says

    Ugh! So NOT-in-the-tribe. The only reason I kept watching was because it was on your website. Using 9/11 to sell your book! Using your friends trauma and your friends’ kid to sell your book! Welling up in front of the camera — maybe it was genuine (maybe) but at some point he had to make the decision, ‘yeah let’s keep that part where I well up’. That’ll get ’em. Ugh, ugh, ugh!

    • says

      Classic! But I think that’s what makes this such a great example, because you’re in or you’re out. It’s very clear. I actually think you might like the book though :)

  14. says

    This was an amazing book trailer. I never watch book trailers, they’re so boring. But I found myself watching a full minute before I was like, oh this is another book trailer, why do I want to watch it? Mrs. Inglis made a good point about the book needing to be showcased in the beginning.

    I found recent movie trailers have been using this technique. Bravo on the who close up shots and the music and the acting. Really moving.

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