Wednesday, June 25, 2008

What Makes This Book Trailer So Effective?

If you missed yesterdays post, scroll down and take a quick read and check out the Duma Key Trailer. (The Jeopardy music is on)

Here’s the follow-up:

This trailer gets your adrenaline pumping. (grips your emotions) It’s exciting and suspenseful (since it is a mystery) and it leaves many questions unanswered (the curiosity factor in action).

So, in all of 32 seconds (a flash) we’ve just seen one of the best sales pitches, ever. It makes you want to run out and order the book. Why? Because suddenly, we want to find out what this is all about, but more importantly, we need to know how it will end. So far we’ve only seen a glimpse of the trouble to come. Bloodshed, a drowning, cadavers, and so on.

In mere seconds, we feel involved and we want to be a part of this story already. We want to see it unfold and we want to be swept away and scared by it. (For all of you thrill-seekers out there. Mostly somewhere around a 20 to 35 years-of-age demographic. And that means a book trailer like this would be advertised within those target markets, almost exclusively.)

Let’s Break it Down:

Notice how this trailer starts with an innocent, serene beach scene, framed by lovely palm trees. And then to top it off, that innocuous image is reinforced with the mellow sounds of Hawaiian strings. Oh…how peaceful and tranquil. Just another wonderful day at the beach.

The Headline reads: Need To Escape?

So far, the first few seconds seem quiet and relaxing enough…UNTIL blood starts to drip around the corners of the screen.

Next line: Then Take a Vacation You’ll Never Forget

You now have a powerful opening that juxtaposes two very different happenings. Calmness against bloodshed. Very effective. Now that they’ve got your attention, the blood goes from drips to covering the whole frame, little by little as the music becomes ominous, a sheet of blood covers the screen.

We know something awful is about to happen, or just did. But first, an introduction of the master of mystery and suspense.

The name (Stephen King) appears under water. This builds the suspense.

Next line: (Stephen King) Invites You To Get Away (As the music escalates and becomes even more ominous.)

And then, suddenly, everything goes blank, and just as quick, images of doom and gloom flash about:

A paintbrush mops blood across the screen
A pirate’s ship lost in turbulent seas
A doll’s face rolls its eyes ( a “Chucky” the killer doll, reminder or inference)
A ghostly cadaver takes a deep breath

And then, the Book’s Title is shown under water, drenched in blood, as was the author’s name a few frames before.

Suddenly…the music builds and then slowly comes crashing down and…BOOM. A shot of the book against some of the elements that will play out in the story:

Stormy skies, artists paintbrushes in a can, and so on.

Again…another build-up of music and…BOOM.

Visit Duma Key…Return Trip Not Guaranteed

A short pause and then…the date the book debuts.

Fade to black.

You’ve got to admit that this is highly effective marketing. Notice how in a short 32 seconds, they’ve managed to stir-up emotions and questions inside of you that all of a sudden, you want answers to. And how do you get those answers? You buy the book, of course. BTW, those short 32 seconds create a false sense of urgency and impulse that further escalates your desire to dig deeper and see how this story will play out.


That’s what all book trailers are supposed to do right? Sure. But instead, what we usually see is the opposite. Most Book trailers want to show and reveal too much. Therefore taking out all the suspense and mystery that the book has to offer. They answer too many questions, so there’s nothing left for you to find out. Nothing for you to wonder about. Big mistake.

Your book trailer or better yet, Book Teaser as it is more appropriately called should do just that. It should tease you and entice you and motivate you to take action, because now you want to know more about what you’ve just seen. They’ve whet your appetite and you’re hungry for more information, more thrills, more fun. You now want to be a part of the story. You want to buy the damn book. And you want it Now!

And BTW, the NOW factor is another marketing technique. Otherwise known as “buying on impulse”, before your emotions cool off and you loose interest, or get side-tracked and forget the whole damn thing. They want you to buy NOW, not later, because later, may be too late for them to make the sale, close the deal, or in layman’s terms, cash-in. Ca-ching!

That’s why they try to get at your deepest emotions because that’s where they reach deep inside you and make you go gah-gah over their products. So they hit you hard, and you become attached to the message and they blind-side your sense of reason and rape you…and…Oh…the horror -- the horror! And…uh…well you get the idea.

It can get any sillier than that folks.

Here’s the whole enchilada wrap-up:

Find something in your story that hooks readers and use that in your book teaser. Don’t have a hook in your story. It’s never too late. Come up with one, weave it into your MS and then use it…everywhere.

In the Duma Key teaser, the hook is… Are you ready for this?

Drum roll please…

And you thought I was going to repeat the same old thing but in short bulleted sentences. Right?

Drum roll again please…

And the hook in the Duma Key teaser is…
…that life is like a box of chocolates? Scratch that, right idea, wrong movie.

Let’s try that again:

And the hook in the Duma Key teaser is…

…that life is uncertain? There you go. You never know what can happen. Just when you thought everything was fine and dandy, and the water was so blue and so still…


It’s all over. A great metaphor for life is what it is. And that’s the subtle, but effective hook. That’s why you crave to know more, because you were not expecting something that horrible to happen -- but it did. That’s also known as misdirection, something you learn in writing your terrific prose along the way. Especially if you write in the mystery and suspense genre.

But wait, there’s more.

That’s right, all these rules of suspense and mystery don’t only apply to that particular genre. Remember that all stories must contain some level of suspense, otherwise you won’t have a very interesting and engaging tale to tell.

So, in other words, every teaser must incorporate these elements, whether they are romances, literary tomes, cowboy and Indian westerns, and so on, and so on..

Like the devil, the element of surprise is always in the details.

Okay, I had another teaser set-up for tomorrow’s post, but for some reason the link is not working so we’ll have to scratch that part until further notice.

Stay tuned for more.

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