Last month, the WSJ published an article on how book publishers are using viral videos to promote new books. “Book Trailers” is the name that authors and publishers have given to these videos aimed at YouTube audiences and they are quickly becoming a normal part of the marketing cycle of a new book. Instead of making an expensive and time consuming book tour through various cities, why not grab a camcorder, sketch a few scenes on a storyboard and create a few minutes of film related to the plot or theme of your book? It is, in fact, something that every book publisher today is doing.
One of the world’s biggest publishing houses, HarperCollins, went even further and built a book trailer studio in their offices that will have the capacity to create 500 book trailers a year. This is a sign that established players in such an old-fashioned and non-technical industry like book publishing are recognizing and unleashing the potential of viral videos.
Perhaps one of the best examples out there for a successful book trailer is the short movie that came out of this idea for the book “The Shock Doctrine” by Naomi Klein. When she finished writing this book about the “secret and dark history of capitalism” and how governments have used the aftermath of every major crisis in history to induce radical political measures, she sent the book to Alfonso Cuarón, the Mexican award-winning director of Children of Men. Teaming up with him and his brother Jonás Cuarón, they created the short film/book trailer “The Shock Doctrine” that even landed a couple of film festival award nominations in Venice and Toronto. The book’s website ShockDoctrine.com is rich in social media elements and leverages the success of the book trailer, making it a central part of the online presence of the book and the author.The short movie itself is not an ad for the book, it’s more a short documentary that explains the central thesis of the book. Representing a good recipe for a viral video, “The Shock Doctrine” engages the viewer in the think process of the author and leaves him begging for more.
In this case, the attributes of an excellent filmmaker combined with an interesting thought proposition, resulted in a successful viral video effort that has more than 600,000 views in YouTube and contributed to drive sales for a traditional-media product: a book.