The statistical necessity of creating a trailer

A Q&A with Headline senior marketing manager Vicky Cowell about making the book trailer for The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jen E Smith (January 2012)

1. Trailers are becoming a standard part of a book marketing campaign - how do you make a trailer stand out from the pack?
The role of a book trailer has transformed over recent years from needing to simply tell a story via video to selling the whole experience of reading the book in question. With the abundance of brilliant digital content available at consumers' fingertips book trailers have to go that extra mile to completely engage readers and help them connect to the book, often in a very short time. High production values are important too, though this doesn't have to mean spending a lot of money. It's about setting the right tone for a book so that readers know what to expect. How you promote the trailer is also important in getting it noticed.

2. What are the benefits/challenges of working with the US publisher? (Statistical will be published by Little Brown in the US)
Working with the US publisher has been highly beneficial. Not only does it allow us to share costs but we've also talked about different ideas and the project is richer as a result. It also enables us to have an international trailer launch which is fun for our readers. There are challenges too, in making sure our visions for the trailer match up, but this is all part of the creative process.

3. How important are trailers as a selling tool?
Trailers offer us a great opportunity to sell our books in an instant to a wide range of audiences. At an early stage before publication we can use trailers to show the trade and media our enthusiasm for the book and create a starting point for the buzz and conversation which is so vital for many books. Our trailer for When God Was A Rabbit is a great example of this, particularly on Amazon where it made it into the hallowed top 10 most watched videos list after paperback publication. It's money-can't-buy promotion and it's great to see book buyers showing their support by watching our videos.

4. How do you go about condensing a 200 page book into a 1 minute trailer?
It can be hard to storyboard a trailer as often the best trailers are for books where you don't have a simple story to tell, and telling the story verbatim would spoil the book - this is where selling the essence of a book is important - you need to show readers enough to pique their interest but keep them intrigued so that they hopefully go on to buy the book and share the content with their friends.

5. How hard was it to cast Statistical's two protagonists, Hadley and Oliver?
Casting Oliver and Hadley was relatively straightforward as we had very good guidance from the author about clothing, hair colour and character style. However it's not always easy. Film rights often stipulate for example that characters' faces can't be shown in book trailers so there are other considerations when casting.

6. What's the next step?
For Statistical we're planning a range of creative publicity and marketing activity to get the trailer out to our audience, including competitions to win proofs when you watch the trailer, newsletters and seeding via key social media. We've actually created two trailers this time, one for Oliver and one for Hadley, and we'll be using Facebook as the link between the two to encourage readers to watch both and talk about which one they've seen. Online retailer sites are also really important in getting the trailer to market so we'll be making sure the film is added to our book pages wherever possible.