Over at Quillo:Torque, the talented Jeremy Gordon is hosting a discussion about the merits of book trailers for authors.

Creators of book trailers need to be careful to evoke the mood and themes of the literary work, without hamstringing the reader’s visual associations by defining the look of each character. Who needs imagination when the word-image connections have already been set?

It’s an interesting topic and one I’ve pondered as a tool for author promotion. Jeremy’s right to point out the high costs of production. Not only that, but in the rather crowded channel of online videos how does one stand out or attract page views? If you attract views will it boost sales of the book or, like quirky tv ads, will it become more notable for the popularity of the trailer than the product it’s promoting?

For my mind, it’s about finding interesting ways to tell a story. (That’s what is most likely to make an impression and create that sought-after viral distribution.) This might be achieved through a short video, but it might just as easily be achieved through cheaper and ultimately more effective means. For example, check out Miranda July’s clever HTML presentation to promote her short story collection No one belongs here more than you. This little site was linked to all over the blogosphere and helped July achieve real momentum behind her book. She has even been able to update it, presumably for as little investment as she made to create the first one. One wonders if she’d spent $3000 on a book trailer if she would have achieved a similar result?