As recently as a year or two ago, the phrase “book trailer” conjured images of a library in a double-wide. But now the trailer is an essential part of book buzz-building, and Melville House Publishing has recognized this by organizing The 1st Annual Moby Awards to celebrate the best and worst of the medium. Publisher and award organizer Dennis Loy Johnson explains, “For a long time, Big Publishing has been wishing it was either the movie industry or the music industry — first writers needed agents, then they had to be young and beautiful, now they need to be in actual movies. It just all cried out for a spoof.”
But the trailers the panel of judges are considering are the real deal. So what makes a good trailer? Carolyn Kellogg, who edits the LA Times’s book blog Jacket Copy, suggests that “if the author is going to appear in the trailer, it may help if his face doesn’t look like the bottom of an ashtray.” And what role will they play in the promotion and consumption of books? Jason Boog, of Media Bistro’s book blog GalleyCat, thinks that book trailers will be an essential value-added component in the evolution away from traditional dead-tree media: “This content will become integrated with digital books eventually — enhanced eBooks should include author videos, trailers, and all the multimedia content you can find on the web.”
Though still in their infancy, book trailers have already had success building buzz — if not for the book, then at least for the form. When the reclusive Thomas Pynchon narrated the book trailer for Inherent Vice, everyone from the Wall Street Journal to Entertainment Weekly took notice. And earlier this year, the trailer for John Wray’s Lowboy, featuring Zach Galifianakis masquerading as the author, went viral.
So who will win a coveted Moby Award? We offer our picks from the shortlist below, and suggest a few that didn’t make the cut.
For Best Cameo in a Book Trailer: Zach Galifinakis in John Wray’s Lowboy