What Makes a Good Book Trailer?

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Photo by Jennifer Rocholl

BJ Novak’s literary debut, One More Thing, launched this week; but the trailer has been making the rounds online, drumming up interest, for weeks now. Yes, the trailer. Video trailers for books are common these days, and for good reason: It can be easier to grab someone’s attention in a couple minutes of video than with a page-long press release that gets buried in an inbox.

But as many in the book biz know, book trailers are often rather… well, blah. That’s why we wanted to share Novak’s, which is a riot:

Great, right? OK, fair enough — Novak obviously had a nice budget for this, and it helps to have superstar BFFs like Mindy Kaling on call for such projects. But what we love about it is that it does so much in such a tiny film. It sets a tone, establishes a voice, explains exactly what the book is (fiction, in short stories), and even takes a few tongue-in-cheek stabs at heading off likely misperceptions (that it might be a memoir, just like like Kaling’s, for example; or that it’s pretentious for a TV star — Novak’s face is well-known from The Office — to assume he can make the jump to author). Plus, it makes us laugh.

A fantastic trailer doesn’t have to be so involved, though. Here’s another favorite from the past year — David Sedaris, promoting Let’s Explore Diabetes With Owls:

So simple: Just a clip of Sedaris reading his words, in his own voice, with some basic animation. Proving the point, perhaps, that regardless of bells and whistles, what really matters is good writing.

Seen any great book trailers lately? Give us a shout on Facebook or Twitter and let us know what your favorites are.

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Speaking of books and film: Did you hear Lean In is going to be a movie? Well, Hollywood did it with He’s Just Not That Into You and What to Expect When You’re Expecting, so it’s certainly not the first nonfiction self-help / advice book to be turned to fiction onscreen. Should be interesting.

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